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The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement | [David Brooks]

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica - how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature.
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Publisher's Summary

With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and best-selling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life.

This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica - how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred - we have learned more about the human brain in the last 30 years than we had in the previous 3,000.

The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind - not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain's work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.

Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the "odyssey years" that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.

©2011 David Brooks (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    John Neff Utah, USA 06-28-12
    John Neff Utah, USA 06-28-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    67
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable (w/ exception for some language)"

    I enjoyed the content of this book. I found the narrative engaging, with substance behind it that explains human limitations and behaviors. I was very disappointed that the "F" word had to be thrown in multiple times, presumably for emphasis. I found this offensive and can not therefore suggest this book to family members. Yet, I enjoyed learning more about human interactions.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rose pyronneau BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, US 06-18-11
    rose pyronneau BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, US 06-18-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "horrible"

    I expected more. I wasted my money which I have very little of. I saw the author on GPS and he had a hard time discussing the book. Fareed said it was a good book and i fell for it. I only gave it one star because I didn't know how not to give it zero

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvette Binalong, Australia 06-13-11
    Yvette Binalong, Australia 06-13-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    97
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "lost puff"

    Brilliiant start and great concept but not sustained through entire lifespan of the main characters. The trajectory of their lives into old age was one dimensional and an anticlimax as though the author had run out of puff and just wanted to get it over and down with.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 06-05-11
    Jan 06-05-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    2
    2
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    0
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    "Not bad just not good"

    I was excited to get the book but was disappointed in it. I found it quite mediocre and really received little or no new information. I think it may deserve 3 stars but really, I find, most people over rate books and I failed to see any thing new or interesting here.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julio Amsterdam, Netherlands 04-21-11
    Julio Amsterdam, Netherlands 04-21-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    3
    3
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    "Facts will put you to sleep"

    If you are looking for a book with lots of facts then you found one. If you want an enjoyable listening without being put to sleep don't buy this book. There are no exercises included in this book as one of the other review mentions it.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    peter Houten, Netherlands 04-07-11
    peter Houten, Netherlands 04-07-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "The soft side of coercion"

    The form is interesting: a mixture of a personal story about 2 people and propaganda promoting the coercive power of some people over other people to further the latter's welfare.
    Even after bailouts prove government is there to transfer money from the poor to the rich and after US soldiers in Afghanistan blowing up an unarmed 17 year old farm boy that was no threat to them and end up playing card with the victims finger, this author still believes. He still believes you can hire some people, give them guns and laws and coercive power over others and a list of things to do: the betterment of social structures and welfare of the poor
    and he still thinks that principle can work.
    Sure lot's of things went wrong with government, but that was because there was a split between two government parties that want big gvt power and little gvt power (did you ever meet the gvt official that actually reduced gvt power?) The author changes all that by tacking on the terms 'energetic' and 'dynamic' to it.
    This way, those who can coerce with impunity for the good of mankind will show their 'soft side'

    6 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Danzig New York, NY USA 04-12-11
    David Danzig New York, NY USA 04-12-11 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gripping, touching, and informative"

    The publisher's description of this book as "the story of how success happens . . . told through the lives of one composite American couple" turns out to be just a peculiar way of saying, "this is a novel." And it is a gripping, captivating, deeply touching novel. And instead of being a typical fictional story where characters do inexplicable things that they would never do in real life, such as throwing an giant pearl into the ocean or whatever, these characters' thoughts, feelings, and actions are explained through lengthy and fascinating discussions of the latest studies and theories of social science, which are certain to offer you, the reader, great insight into your own life and your relationships with others.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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