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The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement Paperback – Jan 3 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Jan. 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979374
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“Provocative and fascinating . . . seeks to do nothing less than revolutionize our notions about how we function and conduct our lives.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“[A] fascinating study of the unconscious mind and its impact on our lives . . . 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

“Multifaceted, compulsively readable . . . Brooks’s considerable achievement comes in his ability to elevate the unseen aspects of private experience into a vigorous and challenging conversation about what we all share.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Brooks surveys a stunning amount of research and cleverly connects it to everyday experience. . . . As in [Bobos in Paradise] he shows genius in sketching archetypes and coining phrases.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Authoritative, impressively learned, and vast in scope.”—Newsweek

“An enjoyably thought-provoking adventure.”—The Boston Globe

“An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred revew)

About the Author

David Brooks writes an op-ed column for The New York Times. Previously, he has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and an op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal. He is currently a commentator on PBS NewsHour and contributes regularly to Meet the Press and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is the author of 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. His articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, Commentary, The Public Interest, and many other magazines. David Brooks lives in Maryland.


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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?'" -- Romans 9:20 (NKJV)

David Brooks' thesis is that our interactions with others, beginning with our parents, shape us in many ways that we fail to notice . . . even while the powerful influences occur. The book briefly cites many dozens of studies to help establish that point.

A straight recitation of the studies, arranged by topic, would make for pretty dull reading. To offset that problem, Mr. Brooks creates two fictional lives to make the information less abstract and more interesting. Harold comes from a socially enriched family background while his wife, Erica, experiences less family support as a child.

In the parts of the book where the fictional story balances the scientific studies, this storytelling method works pretty well. Toward the end of the book, the fiction is overwhelmed by the science and you may feel as if you are getting more information than you wanted in some cases.

If you regularly read about scientific studies in these fields, this book may seem very superficial to you. If you read very little on these topics, you'll probably welcome the way that Mr. Brooks has made a lot of information more readily available to you in easy-to-absorb form.

Here are the chapter topics and the fictional contexts:

1. Decision Making (how Harold's parents fell in love)
2. The Map Meld (how married couples put their lives together)
3. Mindsight (interaction of baby Harold with his parents)
4. Mapmaking (young Harold's mind and perceptions expand)
5. Attachment (young Harold's emotional connection to his parents)
6.
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Format: Hardcover
Author-journalist David Brooks of the NY Times has written a fictional anecdotal description of a young couple's lives as they come together, grow into marriage and pursue very different careers. Both Harold and Erica, while highly intelligent and motivated in their own right, are portrayed as characters who are greatly influenced by a unique set of complex cross-currents of social influences working on their respective lives. Their emerging sensibilities result in them becoming what Brooks calls 'social animals'. Backing up each phase of this fascinating narrative is credible evidence from recent academic studies showing us that human beings are not innately social but seek the critical skills required to adapt to its challenging demands: cooperation, compromise, self-discipline, practice, sacrifice, organization, listening, et cetera. In the end, it is not the people with the high IQs that usually achieve the American dream but those who, over time, allow society to help shape their core set of values. We may be born as rugged individuals who naturally seek our own sense of purpose, but along the way we come under some very strong social forces in the form of institutions, persons, and groups that can ultimately determine how we work, love, recreate, interact, and critique. What Brooks has done here is give us an excellent insight into how character is moulded as opposed to genius being assumed. I recommend this book for the case it makes for seeing people as being as much a product of their social environment as their native intelligence.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book for the nonprofessional trying to make sense of the craziness in human behavior and beliefs we see on the news (and in debates). While there were statements that I would have deleted when editing, on the whole I couldn't put it down. It filled out my appreciation of the power of the unconscious mind (you know, the part of the mind to which meditating gives space by quieting the conscious mind). Frankly, the story of Erica and Harold sprinkled through the book provided color and application that kept me reading. Now I want to read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Brooks has done a magnificent job of weaving together the story of the everyday lives of Harold and Erica all the while educating the reader with the behind the scenes science of why Harold and Erica do what they do and guiding the reader to the realization that they do the same things. His wit is sharp, insightful and hilarious. It was a thoroughly enjoyable journey into the myriad of sights, sounds, tastes and feelings of what makes our relationships so darn special.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Combining history, philosophy and psychology with past and present research, Brooks makes a compelling
argument for what currently ails the western world. Beyond application, however, this book simply provokes thought about how we make decisions; our hidden biases, so-called free choices, and social interaction. I heartily recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful book. Very well written. It's kind of like a university education in one book, but so much easier. Can't wait to start on his next book, Character.
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