The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

Front Cover
Random House, 2011 - Psychology - 424 pages
22 Reviews
With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, 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. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica—how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain's work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.

Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “odyssey years” that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.

The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, 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.

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Review: The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

User Review  - Adela-diana Almasi - Goodreads

I just finished this book a couple of weeks ago and overall, this book was a disappointment. It's the kind of book that seems awesome, fun and insightful at the beginning and then just goes downhill ... Read full review

Review: The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

User Review  - Marcus - Goodreads

There's a lot about this book that could have gone really wrong. In fact, it's the perfect recipe for disaster. I can imagine the pitch to the publisher, "I'm going to tell a fictional story whose ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)


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.

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