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Comment: Has some highlighting. Clean, intact DJ. Tight spine.
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The Road to Character Hardcover – April 14, 2015

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,232 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

“David Brooks—the New York Times columnist and PBS commentator whose measured calm gives punditry a good name—offers the building blocks of a meaningful life.”Washingtonian
 
“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

“[Brooks] emerges as a countercultural leader. . . . The literary achievement of The Road to Character is inseparable from the virtues of its author. As the reader, you not only want to know about Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine. You also want to know what Brooks makes of Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine. The voice of the book is calm, fair and humane. The highlight of the material is the quality of the author’s moral and spiritual judgments.”—Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

“A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin.”—The Guardian (U.K.)
 
“This learned and engaging book brims with pleasures.”Newsday

“Original and eye-opening . . . At his best, 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

“David Brooks breaks the columnist’s fourth wall. . . . There is something affecting in the diligence with which Brooks seeks a cure for his self-diagnosed shallowness by plumbing the depths of others. . . . Brooks’s instinct that there is wisdom to be found in literature that cannot be found in the pages of the latest social science journals is well-advised, and the possibility that his book may bring the likes of Eliot or Samuel Johnson—another literary figure about whom he writes with engaging sympathy—to a wider general readership is a heartening thought.”—Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker
 
“If you want to be reassured that you are special, you will hate this book. But if you like thoughtful polemics, it is worth logging off Facebook to read it.”The Economist

“Brooks uses the powerful stories of people such as Augustine, George Eliot and Dwight Eisenhower to inspire.”The Times (U.K.)

“Elegant and lucid . . . a pitch-perfect clarion call, issued not with preachy hubris but from a deep place of humility, for awakening to the greatest rewards of living . . . The Road to Character is an essential read in its entirety—Anne Lamott with a harder edge of moral philosophy, Seneca with a softer edge of spiritual sensitivity, E. F. Schumacher for perplexed moderns.”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
 
“Brooks, author of The Social Animal, offers biographies of a cross section of individuals who struggled against their own weaknesses and limitations and developed strong moral fiber. . . . [He] offers a humility code that cautions against living only for happiness and that recognizes we are ultimately saved by grace.”Booklist
 
“The road to exceptional character may be unpaved and a bit rocky, yet it is still worth the struggle. This is the basic thesis of Brooks’s engrossing treatise on personal morality in today’s materialistic, proud world. . . . [His] poignant and at times quite humorous commentary on the importance of humility and virtue makes for a vital, uplifting read.”Publishers Weekly

About the Author

David Brooks is one of the nation’s leading writers and commentators. He is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and appears regularly on PBS NewsHour and Meet the Press. 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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 14, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081299325X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812993257
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Russell Fanelli TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have read David Brooks' column in my local paper for many years and have watched him on Meet the Press. He is a thoughtful and intelligent man. His new book, The Road to Character, is a brave, if not always successful, attempt to discover what is important and meaningful in a life well lived.

Brooks tells us in his introduction that his book is about "how some people have cultivated strong character. It's about one mindset that people through the centuries have adopted to put iron in their core and to cultivate a wise heart. I wrote it to save my soul." What is best about this book is Brooks' willingness to share with us his search for meaning and purpose in his life. Unfortunately, I was sometimes disappointed by the unevenness of the text.

Brooks starts out strong. His first chapter is called "The Shift." Brooks thinks that the American people have become self-centered. He tells us that this "leads to selfishness, the desire to use other people as means to get things for yourself. It also leads to pride, the desire to see yourself as superior to everybody else." Brooks recommends a more humble approach to life and living and reminds us that we are all built from "crooked timber." He quotes Immanuel Kant's famous line, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. " Our character must be built from the flaws which are an integral part of all of our lives.

From this good start, Brooks begins to give us historical examples of people who built exemplary lives from their "crooked timber," and he starts with Frances Perkins, who graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1902 and who eventually became a trusted advisor to Franklin Roosevelt and his Secretary of Labor for twelve years.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I read this book I kept thinking of my 84 year old grandfather. I kind of felt like he was sitting at the table talking to me about the way things used to be. These types of conversations are not a bad thing at all and most of the time they seem comforting. As I read this book I kept reflecting upon my own life and where I stacked up in comparison towards humble or the center of attention seeker. What kept the book interesting was the part history lesson part character lesson based upon the life events of the person being written about.

This book starts out talking about what is valuable in society and where the focus lies today and where it was after WWII. There are some stark differences between today and yesteryear. Some of these changes like technology that make life easier but back then it seems that people were more humble, had manners and everything wasn’t about them. Most of the people discussed in this book were brought up at the turn of the 1900’s.
Here are the people written about in the book Frances Perkins, Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, George Marshal, A. Philip Randolph, Mary Anne Elliot, Augustine & Samuel Johnson,

Here was the main theme of the book:

The push for being the center of attention seems to have distorted the moral compass of society and their own sense of “good”. The events, trials and struggles we face in life tend to shape up for the good or the bad depending upon the choices we make when at the crossroads of difficult decisions. At some point we gain the fortitude to stick with one type of decision based upon what has been learned in previous adverse situations. Character is built on the tough decisions to be made plus life’s experiences.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have opted for a "3" rating, which may be a little harsh for this well-written book, but that's because I found myself vacillating between enjoying parts of this book while disliking others. The book opens well with an interesting comparison of resume virtues vs eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are the accomplishments and skills we put on our resumes; eulogy virtues are the characteristics that are at the core of your being. Brooks then describes this contrast as Adam I vs Adam II and goes on to cite various examples of how our society has been taken over by resume virtues and Adam I beliefs and actions. He compares a football player's over-enthusiastic response to a touchdown with the more humble reactions to the US victory in WWII.

I enjoyed this opening discussion as well as several of the examples of individuals who had found their "vocation" (rather than "career") often through a circumstance in their life which propelled them toward it. Many times, their calling found them. I liked the emphasis on humility and the importance of being a good person not just doing good deeds. I also enjoyed reading about the Triangle Factory Fire and other incidents which pointed certain individuals toward their ultimate destinies. I truly admire the values he promotes and was pleasantly reminded of my father's generation which lived many of those values through WWII and other historic events.

But as I continued to read the book, I started to get a sense of "back in the good old days" nostalgia that implies (or blatantly states) that somehow suffering is the key to nobility and a good person.
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