The Road to Character

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • David Brooks challenges us to rebalance the scales between the focus on external success—“résumé virtues”—and our core principles.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE ECONOMIST
 
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his 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 how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives.

Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.

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

“Joy,” David Brooks writes, “is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes.”

Praise for The Road to Character

“A hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story.”The New York Times Book Review

“This profound and eloquent book is written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance.”—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon

“A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin.”—The Guardian

“Original and eye-opening . . . Brooks is a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave an idea bigger than the sum of its parts.”USA Today
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A thought-provoking exploration of the four major commitments in life that fundamentally shape our identities--from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Road to Character.

Most of us, over the course of our lives, will make four big commitments: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. Our personal fulfillment depends on how well we choose and execute these commitments. Joy comes when we fuse them into one coherent whole, with each of these commitments fortifying and strengthening the others. In The Committed Life, David Brooks looks at people--from Dostoyevsky to Holocaust survivor Etty Hillesum to African educational entrepreneur Fred Swaniker--who have lived joyous, committed lives, and who have embraced the necessity of dependence. He gathers their wisdom on how to choose a partner, how to pick a vocation, how to live out a philosophy, and how we can begin to integrate our commitments into one overriding purpose.

In short, this book is meant to help us all lead more meaningful lives. But it's also a provocative social commentary. We live in a society, Brooks argues, that celebrates freedom and choice, that tells us to be true to ourselves, to march to the beat of our own drummer at the expense of surrendering to a cause, rooting ourselves in a neighborhood, and binding ourselves to others by social solidarity and love. We have taken individualism to the extreme degree--and, in the process, we have torn the social fabric in a thousand different ways. The path to repair is through making deeper commitments.

The Social Animal gave us a tale of human nature. The Road to Character traced the history of a great moral tradition--a riveting examination of morality in our time, but with The Committed Life, Brooks turns his mind to what happens when we put commitment-making at the center of life, producing one of Brooks' most personal and revolutionary books yet.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Apr 14, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780679645030
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Self-Help / Personal Growth / General
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"You'll not only break the ice, you'll melt it away with your new skills." -- Larry King

"The lost art of verbal communication may be revitalized by Leil Lowndes." -- Harvey McKay, author of “How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”

What is that magic quality makes some people instantly loved and respected? Everyone wants to be their friend (or, if single, their lover!) In business, they rise swiftly to the top of the corporate ladder. What is their "Midas touch?"

What it boils down to is a more skillful way of dealing with people.

The author has spent her career teaching people how to communicate for success. In her book How to Talk to Anyone (Contemporary Books, October 2003) Lowndes offers 92 easy and effective sure-fire success techniques-- she takes the reader from first meeting all the way up to sophisticated techniques used by the big winners in life. In this information-packed book you’ll find:

9 ways to make a dynamite first impression 14 ways to master small talk, "big talk," and body language 14 ways to walk and talk like a VIP or celebrity 6 ways to sound like an insider in any crowd 7 ways to establish deep subliminal rapport with anyone 9 ways to feed someone's ego (and know when NOT to!) 11 ways to make your phone a powerful communications tool 15 ways to work a party like a politician works a room 7 ways to talk with tigers and not get eaten alive

In her trademark entertaining and straight-shooting style, Leil gives the techniques catchy names so you'll remember them when you really need them, including: "Rubberneck the Room," "Be a Copyclass," "Come Hither Hands," “Bare Their Hot Button,” “The Great Scorecard in the Sky," and "Play the Tombstone Game,” for big success in your social life, romance, and business.

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Peter Singer is often described as the world's most influential philosopher. He is also one of its most controversial. The author of important books such as Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, and The Life You Can Save, he helped launch the animal rights and effective altruism movements and contributed to the development of bioethics. Now, in Ethics in the Real World, Singer shows that he is also a master at dissecting important current events in a few hundred words.

In this book of brief essays, he applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalized, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and what is the value of the pale blue dot that is our planet. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer’s thoughts on one of his favorite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast.

Now with a new afterword by the author, this provocative and original book will challenge—and possibly change—your beliefs about many real-world ethical questions.

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