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On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense Paperback – 15 Aug 2005


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On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense + Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There + The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; New edition edition (15 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227391
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 751,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SH_ VINE VOICE on 10 Oct 2004
Format: Hardcover
At last an American who for 97% of the book gently and humorously dismantle their cultural quirks, with amazing insight and thoroughness.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 52 reviews
115 of 124 people found the following review helpful
A Great Sequel to Bobos in Paradise 12 Jun 2004
By Jon - Published on Amazon.com
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.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Accurate description of contemporary America 29 Jun 2005
By Madison Reader - Published on Amazon.com
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.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
It's really the future that motivates Americans 25 Aug 2004
By Paul Tognetti - Published on Amazon.com
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.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A Bit Rare but the BBQ Sauce is Tasty 6 Aug 2004
By Eric K. Gill - Published on Amazon.com
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. At the same time, Brooks professes a curious admiration for Americans' tendency to see the glass, if not always half full, at least within reach of a fresh pitcher -- even when we're stuck on some desert highway in our monster SUVs with their NiCAD-operated DVD players in the backseat, where Ashley and Hayden are too preoccupied to notice that the Navigator has run out of gas. Brooks theorizes it is exactly our blind faith in the future that unites Americans when we are struck by enemies, or at least it has always united us in the past. Whether our Western-frontier mentality and our often-quoted "cowboy posturing" will survive our deepening attachment to mega-malls and bankruptcy (financial, cultural and spiritual) reamains to be seen. However, contrary to Amazon's review, Brooks' does not profess to believe that it will. Like most Americans, he merely maintains hope.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
"A" for effort 16 Jun 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
More insightful than all the remaindered collections of Maureen Dowd's columns, Brooks' book will not be to everybody's tastes. There is indeed a thin line between love and hate, and Brooks nimbly dances along that tightrope, sometimes leaning to to one side or the other, as he views America's suburbs through a rose-colored glass darkly. But he ultimately (and wisely) chooses an optimistic outlook, which infuriates the worryworts of the left to no end.
Brooks may not always get every little factoid right, but who else in cosmo places like New York and Seattle is even bothering to try? They're all too busy staring at their navels to see the rest of our nation. 10 points to Brooks for at least getting off the island and getting out there, into the misty wilds of contemporary suburbia.
As for Michael Kinsley's alleged "evisceration" of Brooks' book, it barely broke Brooks' skin. Kinsley accuses him of -- gasp! -- being a liberal. He also accuses Brooks of not being black-and-white enough in his assessments, i.e., of engaging in -- horror! -- nuance. Excuse me, but since when did these become sins in the eyes of the cosmopolitan set, and how come I never got the memo?
Kinsley's envy of Brooks' success is palpable, but then what do you expect from a dried-up former wunderkind who sold his soul to Microsoft and hasn't had a single interesting idea since he edited the New Republic decades ago? He reminds me of nothing so much as bitter old Mr. Potter in "It's A Wonderful Life," muttering his malice toward that young, energetic whippersnapper George Bailey.
Some call Brooks' book shallow. These are people who believe that repeating exhausted cliches like "the Emperor has no clothes" is an example of depth. You also won't like this book if you believe that calling someone a "right wing propagandist," a "neo-con," or (better yet) "Frodo" is an actual insight.
But I actually burst out laughing when I realized that at least four of the one-starred reviews below were posted by New Yorkers. How many of them do you think are angry NYT reporters who resent Brooks getting a column before they did? And note to "St. Louis" -- Brooks grew up in Pennsylvania, not Manhattan.
Brooks occasionally overrreaches, but he never fails to entertain. Truth is something greater than the sum of facts, and Brooks gets the greater part right. If you have a sense of humor and a modicum of interest in "those people" who dwell in suburban America, then you will love this book. If you don't have a sense of humor, sorry, I can't help you.
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