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

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 2, 2004 - Social Science - 320 pages
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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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - carterchristian1 - LibraryThing

I watch Brooks regularly on the public television program on Fridays and really like him. Then came a 3 hour interview that intensified this feeling. Conservative or not (and he was a Buckley protege ... Read full review

On paradise drive: how we live now (and always have) in the future tense

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Brooks, a NY Times op-ed columnist, the author of Bobos in Paradise, and a self-described comic sociologist, here accomplishes an admirable feat: he thoughtfully constructs a critique of American ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction The Great Dispersal
1
Chapter One Out for a Drive
15
Chapter Two Thyroid Nation
65
Bimbos of the World
86
Chapter Four The Spiritual Wind
111
Chapter Five Growing
127
Chapter Six Learning
153
Chapter Seven Shopping
186
Chapter Eight Working
213
Chapter Nine A History of Imagination
246
Bibliographical Essay
283
Acknowledgments
287
Index
289
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About the author (2004)

David Brooks writes a biweekly Op-Ed column for The New York Times and appears regularly on PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and NPR's All Things Considered. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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