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Ambitious Journalistic Product
on 7 August 2011
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.