On Paradise Drive by David Brooks
How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense

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The author of the acclaimed bestseller Bobos in Paradise, which hilariously described the upscale American culture, takes a witty look at how being American shapes us, and how America's suburban civilization will shape the world's future.
Take a look at Americans in their natural habitat. You see suburban guys at Home Depot doing that special manly, waddling walk that American men do in the presence of large amounts of lumber; super-efficient ubermoms who chair school auctions, organize the PTA, and weigh less than their children; workaholic corporate types boarding airplanes while talking on their cell phones in a sort of panic because they know that when the door closes they have to turn their precious phone off and it will be like somebody stepped on their trachea.
Looking at all this, you might come to the conclusion that we Americans are not the most profound people on earth. Indeed, there are millions around the world who regard us as the great bimbos of the globe: hardworking and fun, but also materialistic and spiritually shallow.
They've got a point. As you drive through the sprawling suburbs or eat in the suburban chain restaurants (which if they merged would be called Chili's Olive Garden Hard Rock Outback Cantina), questions do occur. Are we really as shallow as we look? Is there anything that unites us across the divides of politics, race, class, and geography? What does it mean to be American?
Well, mentality matters, and sometimes mentality is all that matters. As diverse as we are, as complacent as we sometimes seem, Americans are united by a common mentality, which we have inherited from our ancestors and pass on, sometimes unreflectingly, to our kids.
We are united by future-mindedness. We see the present from the vantage point of the future. We are tantalized, at every second of every day, by the awareness of grand possibilities ahead of us, by the bounty we can realize just over the next ridge.
This mentality leads us to work feverishly hard, move more than any other people on earth, switch jobs, switch religions. It makes us anxious and optimistic, manic and discombobulating.
Even in the superficiality of modern suburban life, there is some deeper impulse still throbbing in the heart of average Americans. That impulse is the subject of this book.

About David Brooks

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David Brooks is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and he is a weekly commentator on PBS NewsHour. He is the author of the bestseller Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense.
Published June 2, 2004 by Simon & Schuster. 320 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Yet Brooks can neither achieve brilliant comic heights achieved by the observer of “radical chic” and “The Me Decade,” nor back his viewpoint with the spine of sharp reporting that informs even Wolfe’s fiction.

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Kirkus Reviews

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For example, far from the stereotype of clusters of conformity long derided by intellectuals, today’s suburbs, he observes, contain “lesbian dentists, Iranian McMansions, Korean megachurches, nuclear-free-zone subdevelopments, Orthodox shetls with Hasidic families walking past strip malls on thei...

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Publishers Weekly

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More a way to look at what he sees as America's problems (e.g., our thirst for enormous gas guzzlers and super-sized soft drinks) with optimism than a series of suggestions of how to fix them, this book by the New York Times op-ed columnist tells readers it's okay to consume, consume, consume—so...

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Book Reporter

In discussing a certain well-known food store chain catering to socially and health-conscious consumers, Brooks notes: "The folks behind this enterprise have managed to come up with globally concerned stomach filler that tastes virtuously of sawdust ground from unendangered wood.

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of On Paradise Drive: How We Liv...

Entertainment Weekly

His central question: ''If middle America is so stupid, vulgar, self-absorbed, and materialistic, which it often is, then how can America itself be so great?'' You may have arguments with his answers, not to mention the question.

May 28 2004 | Read Full Review of On Paradise Drive: How We Liv...

Bookmarks Magazine

Brooks outlines three goals in On Paradise Drive: to describe life in America’s suburbs, to solve the mystery of motivation, and to extract conclusive proof to his fundamental question: "Are we as shallow as we look?"

Oct 21 2009 | Read Full Review of On Paradise Drive: How We Liv...

Spirituality & Practice

And here's a real eye-opener: "We have a huge mass of people who not only don't live in cities, they don't commute to cities, go to movies in the cities, eat in the cities, or have any significant contact with urban life.

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