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The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens Paperback – 5 Jan 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780720378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780720371
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 4.4 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The book everyone's talking about --The Guardian

A fascinating study of the unconscious mind and its impact on our lives... --The Economist

Brooks gets inside the head, explains how the brain works... it s like frieze-framing a novel and discussing the motivation of the characters. Fascinating... --The Evening Standard

At Westminster they should be listening hard. --The Times

A spirited and engaging book, true in its ambition and liveliness... it offers a sense of the very real limits of the assumptions that we westerners bring to life, and the possibility of radically better, more 'realistic' ways of living. --The Observer

A well-written and engaging tour d'horizon of much of the literature on brain development, male-female relationships and what factors cause people to live happy live... Readers will learn a great deal. --The Washington Times

David Brooks is one of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time, known for, among other things, his playful dissections of the lifestyles of the American elite. Here he is chasing bigger game. The Social Animal is about the modern life of our species. It explores attachment, parenting, schooling, love, family, culture, achievement, marriage, politics, morality, aging, death and much more... Brooks is a sharp, clear and often very funny writer. --The Washington Post

Sensational... The book is appealing in many ways, not the least of which is Brooks' ability to synthesize vast amounts of research and present it in a fashion that calls to mind the hilarious social satire of Tom Wolfe... it aims to change our understanding of how we function and conduct our lives. At the least, it will deepen your regard for the marvel that is the human brain. --The Philadelphia Inquirer

An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Truly the best road map for living one's life that I have ever read... It should absolutely be on the required reading list of every MBA program... Trust me, this is a book of 'large ideas'. --Kansas City Business Journal

Brooks has done well to draw such vivid attention to the wide implications of the accumulated research on the mind and the triggers of human behaviour. --The Economist

Brooks splices the science and the narrative with skill **** --The Scotsman

It has a sense of curiosity, a warmth rare in political literature --Guardian

Fascinating... in this unusual book, the micro physical is joined to a gentle macro philosophy: "The deeper the social relationships a person has, the happier he or she will be." --Irish Times

Interesting, readable and persuasive --Independent on Sunday

Brooks splices the science and the narrative with great skill; you get to know these people, and like bits of them and dislike other bits. It's good --William Leith, Evening Standard

Brooks gets inside the head, explains how the brain works... it s like frieze-framing a novel and discussing the motivation of the characters. Fascinating... --The Evening Standard

At Westminster they should be listening hard. --The Times

A spirited and engaging book, true in its ambition and liveliness... it offers a sense of the very real limits of the assumptions that we westerners bring to life, and the possibility of radically better, more 'realistic' ways of living. --The Observer

A well-written and engaging tour d'horizon of much of the literature on brain development, male-female relationships and what factors cause people to live happy live... Readers will learn a great deal. --The Washington Times

David Brooks is one of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time, known for, among other things, his playful dissections of the lifestyles of the American elite. Here he is chasing bigger game. The Social Animal is about the modern life of our species. It explores attachment, parenting, schooling, love, family, culture, achievement, marriage, politics, morality, aging, death and much more... Brooks is a sharp, clear and often very funny writer. --The Washington Post

Sensational... The book is appealing in many ways, not the least of which is Brooks' ability to synthesize vast amounts of research and present it in a fashion that calls to mind the hilarious social satire of Tom Wolfe... it aims to change our understanding of how we function and conduct our lives. At the least, it will deepen your regard for the marvel that is the human brain. --The Philadelphia Inquirer

An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Truly the best road map for living one's life that I have ever read... It should absolutely be on the required reading list of every MBA program... Trust me, this is a book of 'large ideas'. --Kansas City Business Journal

Brooks has done well to draw such vivid attention to the wide implications of the accumulated research on the mind and the triggers of human behaviour. --The Economist

About the Author

David Brooks has millions of readers worldwide from his New York Times column. His influence has only grown since the publication of his book Bobos In Paradise. In a recent profile, New York magazine called him the essential columnist of our time. He lives with his family in Washington DC.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Half Man, Half Book on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a book that looks that the sciences that concern the human mind and behaviours.

But it is written looking at a couple of fictional characters called Harold and Erica, and pauses at points in their lives to consider the sciences behind the assumptions.

The science parts are therefore very good, written with clarity at the current best understanding of the way the brain works and the way society and people function. I did find the fictional account of the couple a little bit twee, and was not always relevant.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Nichols on 7 Aug. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Firstly, for those who hope they are buying a novel, let it be quite clear that David Brooks only adopted this approach so that he could the better hang the flesh of such knowledge he has acquired about the nature of man on a familiar skeleton ! For all intents and purposes this is non-fiction.

It is not the worse for using such a subterfuge. However, I expect great things when I read a publisher's blurb that "this book will have a broad social impact and change the way we see ourselves and the world." Frankly I do not believe this work lives up to such promise !

I do not agree with people who have suggested it is badly written or poorly edited. I imagine nevertheless that English readers (and I am writing on Amazon.co.uk) will find American spelling and American politics and sport a little too intrusive. Also there are American expressions like "policy wonk" that might or might not one day become as familiar to us as a "silver bullet", but are not so yet !

The book is about social life, culture and psychology; about people's IQ and their socio-economic status. It is also about how to lead a happy and successful existence. Some of the detail is fascinating, some is predictable to the point of being boring. While David Brook's modesty is commendable there is also too much boring attribution to people like "the great business sage Peter Drucker" or "the great anthropologist Clifford Geertz". It goes on ad infinitum : "the marriage expert John Gottman", the neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni, the Austrian physician René Spitz, and believe me, I am omitting some of the best !

When you have read this book you will be able to distinguish between natural and behavioural sciences; level 1 and level 2 cognition; your head will be buzzing with words like 'underdebate' and 'protoconversation'; you will know about paradigm shifts and mental feedback loops, but I doubt whether your life will be changed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. WEST-SOLEY TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mostly drivel, with a (very) few nuggets of real interest. Starts off well enough, backed up by recent social-psychological research, but soon descends into a twee fairytale, which serves as little but a vehicle for the author's rightist standpoints. After racing through the first couple of chapters and thinking 'this isn't bad at all', I really struggled to stomach the rest of the book (though battle on I did!). What a shame he couldn't carry on as he started!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with other reviewers, I found this to be one of the best books I've read on such matters/of similar "genre". However, the book does become somewhat of a chore to read in the final 1/3rd as the developments become a political rant over how the USA operates in terms of electoral campaigns, but doesn't have as much background as the rest of the book does. The back cover states "This is the happiest story you will ever read", however I disagree as **SPOILER ALERT** Harold and Erica do not have children, and the book concludes with Harold's death. Not much was given to the reason for them rekindling their love after their marriage was on the brink of divorce either, so I felt that could have had a little more explanation.

All in all though, a fascinating read, one of the best yet. I would thoroughly recommend it, even for the pertinent observations Brooks so eloquently conveys masterfully through the style of a biographic novel.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Outsider on 1 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
David Brooks is a regular columnist for the New York Times who takes a conservative slant. As such, I have grown to dislike him and disrespect his apologetic point of view for loopy right wing views. But the Social Animal starts off brilliantly, bringing Brooks my respect, but ends up downright loopy.

Brooks uses fictional people's lives to illustrate what we know about the unconscious mind. To begin with, this is very well done - he uses a lot of Daniel Kahneman's ideas (see Thinking Fast and Slow)and other respected source material to tell the stroy. His fictional couple - Harold and Erica - start off interesting - and develop into conservative archetypes so untypical of anyone on the Planet Earth that Brooks shoots himself in the foot and out the other side. Think I'm kidding?

Erica is a Chinese-Mexican woman (so many of them around, right?) who leaves the ghetto to become an ace student, senior management consultant entrepreneur, corporate CEO and eventually Presidential Chief of Staff. Typical, right? She has no children and never has had any. Her WASP husband is very upper middle class, works with the consultant Erica, falls in love with her, becomes a Historical Society curator, then turns to writing History books.

These two become pawns for Brook's social point of view - that being an up the bootstraps pulling, self made minority is deeply wonderful, once Erica realises that culture gives you more advantages than money. Women should be encouraged to achieve anything in the workplace, but home will be abandoned, as will your poor husband. Harold is a Brooks surrogate, and he sounds like such a wanker, you'd like to punch him for being a weak schmuck.

So a pretty good premise is soured by the author's real, conservative agenda and narrow world view. And the critics raved!
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