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

59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743227384
ISBN-10: 0743227387
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For readers who are feeling glum about America and its place in the world, or those who despairingly look at our culture's cookie cutter, strip mall consumerism and flash-bang glitter, Brooks (Bobos in Paradise) offers a balm with his latest pseudo-sociological treatise. 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 long as they look toward the future while doing so. At times playful and sarcastic (though less funny than intended), the book jumps from statistical analysis to cultural observation to defense of Bush's foreign policy, all without much of a mooring in essential context or factual citation. This is deceptive optimism; one long essay insisting our society's problems are not so big, provided we talk about them in the right way. While engagingly written and insightful at points, Brooks's affirmation is unlikely to resound with anyone outside the conservative choir, and even less likely to spark change-or even a desire for change. Still, it's nice to feel loved-if not by the rest of the world, than at least by this author.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Woe the conservative who finds favor with the “liberal” press. After his breakthrough turn in Bobos in Paradise, Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, was the rare elephant in the living room that the Blue states could cuddle up to. While none of the criticism seems overtly motivated by politics, there is a tone of disappointment in most of the reviews. Brooks still has a way with his well-honed cultural skewer, although a tendency towards generalizations bothers many critics. The loudest grumbles are provoked by Brooks’s incessant need to go for the easy joke, many of which just aren’t funny. More importantly, critics raise questions about the relevance of his argument. It seems, for the moment, the zeitgeist has Mr. Brooks in its rear-view mirror.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227384
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #820,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Brooks is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and appears regularly on "PBS NewsHour," NPR's "All Things Considered" and NBC's "Meet the Press." He teaches at Yale University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the bestselling author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement; 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. He has three children and lives in Maryland.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#46 in Books > Self-Help
#46 in Books > Self-Help

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Jon on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I hesitate to write a review of this book given how politically charged the other customer reviewers have been thus far. Liberals seem to dislike David Brooks because he's a moderate conservative intruder into the sacred halls of the New York Times, and conservatives think he's a sellout. Neither opinion of the man has any real reflection on his work, and we are supposed to be reviewing the book, not the man.
That said, this book is genuinely funny and interesting (right up until the very last chapter, which reads more like a sociology primer than the witty social satire that preceeded it). Brooks is simply masterful with some of his turns of phrase. His descriptions of Grill Guy's High-Powered BBQ Grill purchase at Home Depot and the snooty professionals in the Inner Ring Suburbs almost had me in tears at points I was laughing so hard. For those that appreciate a sarcastic sense of humor and a witty use of words (and doesn't mind too much when some of that sarcasm hits dangerously close to home) this is your book. Ignore the overly political criticism from people who apparently haven't even read On Paradise Drive.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Madison Reader on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I generally agree with Amazon's reviewers, but this time the reviewer has completely missed the boat. Instead of arguing that our problems "are not so big, as long as we talk about them in the right way," in the words of the reviewer, On Paradise Drive provides blow after blow against our ultra-consumer, extra-large SUV, monster house, soccer mom, grill daddy culture. He does it with humor, sarcasm and subtle insight, so perhaps some reviewers have missed his point. Ultimately, Brooks takes a critical view of our middle and upper middle class way of life, while at the same time providing a bit of hope that perhaps our ultimate life goals aren't as shallow as a perfect lawn and a shiny stainless steel grill. Anyone who views this book as a conservative, Bush supporting diatribe has completely misread this work.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
David Brooks has a theory. The American people are not as shallow, greedy and self-absorbed as we appear to the rest of the world. There is no doubt that many of us are workaholics, own far more "stuff" than we really need and eat more than half of our meals in bland "chain" restaurants. In page after page in "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense" Brooks pokes fun at the way Americans of all classes, all occupations and all political persuasions go about living their everyday lives. He has pithy comments about the way we live, work and shop as well as the way we educate our young people. Many of his observations are "laugh out loud" funny.

Now given all of this evidence it is certainly not difficult to understand why so many people all over the world dislike us so much. David Brooks would refute those perceptions and argues that what really drives the American people is an abiding optimism for the future. He firmly believes that it is this eternal optimism that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. And he makes several fairly cogent points to support his argument. Among them is a list of many of the "doom and gloom" books written over the past 50 years. I must confess that I have read a great many of them myself. "On Paradise Drive" is a thoughtful, entertaining and extremely well written book. A nice change of pace for those who normally devour books on much more serious subjects. Recommended.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Eric K. Gill on August 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Asking a libertarian to review Brooks' new book is like asking a vegetarian to critique a Texas BBQ restaurant. At best, a reasonable person might admit that it smelled good from a distance. The first half of Brooks' new extended essay is witty and insightful. He nails today's urban-dwelling-bohemian-goth-asexual-socialist-graphic-artist poster child; he paints a realistic landscape of suburban grillmasters with their chrome-polised Lincoln Navigators, SuperSoccerMom wives and matching children named Ashley and Hayden; he captures the bus-riding "it's good to be dirt poor" intellects who cling to their college town climes while analyzing their way through grad school; he absolutely understands today's Volvo-driving exeuctive directors and liberal lawyers who, having succumbed to wealth, spend as much time debating Corian countertop choices as they once devoted to deeper issues like rainforests. Then Brooks meanders into an entire chapter about today's college students, sounding exactly like the hip professor who wants to hang with the cuties--who merely laugh at his Birkenstock heels and his bald spot while he walks away thinking highly of himself. That said, Brooks closes with thought-provoking words. He seems to "get" the average American's psyche, to whatever extent an average American exists; and contrary to Amazon's reviewer, Brooks is critical of Amercian consumerism. He ridicules our shallowness, our lack of culture and our complete absence of a collective historical context.Read more ›
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