The Road to Character

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Click on image for Read in PDF (Review purpose only)
Click on image for Read in PDF (Review purpose only)


“I wrote this book uncertain I could continue with the road to character, but I wanted at the least to know what the street looks like and ways in which other people have trodden it.”—David Brooks

With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that contain brought a lot of readers to his New York Times column with the exceptional previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and ways in which we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he specializes in the deeper values which should inform our everyday life. Responding to what he calls the culture in the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues,” people who exist principally of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, concentrating on what kind of relationships we now have formed.

Looking to some with the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle along with a sense of their particular limitations, they’ve got built a solid inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the requirement to suppress elements of herself in order that she could be an instrument in the larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion from the poor, learned like a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence plus the logic of self-discipline, the desire to distrust oneself at the same time waging a noble crusade.

Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character has an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and make an effort to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.

“Joy,” David Brooks writes, “is usually a byproduct seen by people who are targeting something else. But it comes.”

Praise for The Road to Character

“Brooks’s gift—as he could put it as part of his swift, engaging way—is for producing obscure but potent social studies research accessible and in some cases startling. . . . [The Road to Character is] a hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story. . . . In the age in the selfie, Brooks needs to exhort us to a semiclassical a sense of self-restraint, self-erasure, and self-suspicion.”—Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

“[Brooks] emerges to be a countercultural leader. . . . The literary achievement of The Road to Character is inseparable from your virtues of their author. As the reader, happened only want to find out about Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine. You also want realize Brooks makes of Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine.”—Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

“Original and eye-opening . . . At his best, Brooks is really a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling coming from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave a concept bigger than the sum of the parts.”—USA Today

“A powerful, haunting book that actually works its way below your skin.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

“Elegant and lucid . . . a pitch-perfect clarion call, issued avoid preachy hubris but from your deep place of humility, for awakening on the greatest rewards of living . . . a necessary read to use entirety.”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

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