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
"An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory." (Kirkus)
This is a superb book and I have no reservation in giving it 5/5 across the board.
The ability to weave the powerful results of rafts and rafts of research results in sociology, behavioural science, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology and more into a captivating story.
I have one complaint. The US-centric view causes David Brooks in one part to write (p348) about living in "New York, China or Africa". This is nauseating. At best, New York is a state - but generally spoken about as a city. China is 1.5bn people with widely varying conditions, circumstances, cultures and environments. The same goes for Africa: 1.0bn people living in 54 countries. Please stop talking about Africa as a single place.
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed this, and my mom and sister each bought it and liked it too. Great way to present interesting information, 5 stars.
An amazing book.
David takes theory about brain function and social interaction and intergrates into the lives of characters that you become invested in.
I found myself crying at one stage - while listening to a popular science book!
Since my listening to "The Social Animal", several of my friends have bought the book on my suggestion... all had a similar reaction.
Not political at all and well put together kept me involve the entire time. Compares to the books by Malcolm Gladwell, but with more of a constant story line.
Reminds me of Freakanomics and Outliers
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I almost stopped listening in the first part because I thought the story was dull and uninspiring, but I was determined to get through it and I am very glad I did. Have patience with it. It pulls together many scientific / sociological studies into one fictional story. I have thought about it and brought it up in conversation many times since reading it.
I read this book a while ago, but I remember it being a good summary of a lot of the other psychology books I had read. It encapsulates a lot of research and puts it into a very human perspective. Quite enjoyable to listen to.
I loved this book. I teach college composition and research writing and would love to use David Brook's clever, insightful, and research-driven text to show the purpose of research.
Brooks writes an engaging story of 2 people followed from inception (literally) to death (literally). In that saga, he incorporates what science has to tell us today about nature and nurture. My daughter-in-law is due to have her first child 2 months from now and i found the chapters on birth and infancy to be quite fascinating. I was also quite taken with Brooks first person accounting of death. Not something you read (hear) every day! The narration is excellent. Admittedly, there are some boring chapters but there's a trade off between information and story line. Go for it.
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