The Social Animal by David Brooks
The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

58%

16 Critic Reviews

Mr. Brooks's tendency to attend only to information that supports his argument—the infamous confirmation bias—crops up often in "The Social Animal."
-WSJ online

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

With unequaled insight and brio, New York Times columnist David Brooks has long explored and explained the way we live. Now 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, told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica. Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to old age, illustrating a fundamental new understanding of human nature along the way: The unconscious mind, it turns out, is not a dark, vestigial place, but a creative one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made—the natural habitat of The Social Animal. Brooks reveals the deeply social aspect of our minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. He demolishes conventional definitions of success and looks toward a culture based on trust and humility. The Social Animal is a moving intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. It is an essential book for our time—one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.

BONUS: Includes new material.
 

About David Brooks

See more books from this Author
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 March 8, 2011 by Random House. 449 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Education & Reference, Science & Math, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 27 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Social Animal
All: 16 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 12

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jan 15 2011

An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Andy Beckett on Jun 01 2011

For all its faults, though, this book has a sense of curiosity, a warmth, and a happy ending rare in political literature. You can see why it's selling and being talked about. But there's no great breakthrough here.

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Guardian

Below average
on May 22 2011

The Social Animal is an odd beast of a book with a slightly arbitrary quality. It is never quite clear on what grounds Brooks has decided to explore...

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Guardian

Good
on May 04 2011

Lots of people are going to like all of this. It speaks to a much gentler vision of human nature

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Blog Critics

Good
on Apr 19 2011

...extraordinary in its expansiveness.

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WSJ online

Below average
on Mar 05 2011

Mr. Brooks's tendency to attend only to information that supports his argument—the infamous confirmation bias—crops up often in "The Social Animal."

Read Full Review of The Social Animal: The Hidden... | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Below average
on Jul 14 2011

Midway through, its characters devolve from protagonists to mouthpieces who deliver prescriptions for culture, business and politics.

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Examiner

Above average
on Mar 11 2011

It’s not that I don’t enjoy Brooks’ columns and television commentary, but the hot chocolate I also enjoyed in the bookstore café was just about as predictable.

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The Economist

Above average
on May 17 2011

...I should be a receptive audience for Mr Brooks. But...I found myself unexpectedly puzzled by his book.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
on Mar 08 2011

Perhaps because Brooks wants "The Social Animal" to be a popular book as well as a serious one, when he gets down to making political arguments, he doesn’t do so in a particularly rigorous way.

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USA Today

Above average
on Mar 17 2011

On topics like community and education, he's brilliant. But on others, like nurturing and aging, the material feels familiar. As for Brooks the novelist? Sleep easy, Jonathan Franzen !

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The Daily Beast

Above average
on Feb 27 2011

It doesn’t quite work as fiction, but the plot is just scaffolding designed to elucidate Brooks’s real preoccupation...

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Forbes

Below average
on Mar 10 2011

...Brooks supplies neither drama, high emotion, nor the mindbending metaphysics of aging without time. He serves up instead a shapeless story...so tedious, so lacking in passion and intensity...

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The New Republic

Below average
on Mar 02 2011

...he is emphatically not a novelist, and when he presents Harold’s manifesto the writing becomes flat and didactic.

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Science News

Above average
Reviewed by Bruce Bower on Apr 08 2011

Brooks...succeeds at describing research on social norms and cultural differences. On the other hand, his portrayal of decision making as an integration of countless past emotional judgments is a stretch, based on what’s currently known.

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Christianity Today

Good
on Jul 11 2011

... this book is funny, frequently wise, and almost always spot on in its set pieces on the ways of cosmopolitan elites.

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Reader Rating for The Social Animal
75%

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