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

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  534 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Take a look at Americans in their natural habitat: guys shopping for barbecue grills, doing that special walk men do when in the presence of lumber; superefficient soccer Ubermoms who chair school auctions, organize PTAs, and weigh less than their kids; and suburban chain restaurants, which if they merged would be called Chili's Olive Garden Hard Rock Outback Cantina. Are ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 25th 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 989)
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Edmundo
Social commentary by an NPR personality who might rightly lay claim to being the new Studs Terkel... pretty darn well written if a bit self-consciously pedantic at points. Most of the book comprises a litany of the problems of contemporary society: greed, narcissism, anomie, over-parenting, moral relativism, etc etc. He makes it clear that we are living in a man-made hell of a sort- as my daughter so wryly put it: "The only acceptable form of suicide today is to let your soul die while your husk ...more
Greg
David Brooks is one of the most pragmatic interpreters of the modern world. In “On Paradise Drive” he attempts to explain modern middle-class America and his sprawling borderless frontier is as far removed from the soulless literary terrain of John Cheever as the Land of Oz. He makes merciless fun of all our modern pretentions, our strivings for perfection. His conclusion in the end, however, is not that we’re the mere shallow bimbos of the world, but that we do many of the things we do because ...more
Kim
According to the blurb, this book is "comic," but patronizing Canadian smugster David Brooks is about as funny as MAD TV. His unoriginal, "wry" insights into middle-class American life are so lame and self-satisfied they make me puke.

It's a shame because whenever he stops trying to amuse, he makes some interesting arguments. His idea is that outwardly dull, unimaginative middle-Americans in the suburbs are actually enlightened engines of progress who we all ought to worship. Or something like th
...more
Brent
Mar 15, 2011 Brent rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: hmmm
I read David Brooks's books twice -- once quietly to myself and then out loud to whomever is sitting next to me. As a huge fan of Bobo's in Paradise and a resident of one of the suburbs that he explores in the book, I was very excited to hear what Brooks had to say about America's exurbs and suburbs (all five varieties that he catalogues). While I enjoyed the book, I can't help but be mildly disappointed by the shallowness of some of his observations (Guys like grills! Women like shoes!) as well ...more
Karen
Laughed out loud many times. But author did go on a little too long. I skimmed the chapters on shopping and working because I knew what he was going to say and did not pick up any great "zingers." I knew he was stereotyping at times, but that was OK for humor he intended, I just wonder if western Europeans who read this book would be offended and think that their countries have just as many of the "exceptional" qualities he describes. Also, I wonder if people in poverty filled neighborhoods in t ...more
Kim
I think of the three great David Brooks books -- Bobos in Paradise, The Social Animal, and On Paradise Drive -- Paradise Drive is the weakest. It is the least provocative and Brooks admits to have done little original research. Having said that, the data points and statistics and facts are interesting, if merely confirmatory of what we know to be the characteristics of our contemporary middle-class society.

The UberMom section was observational but I didn't come away with an understanding of why
...more
Daniel
This book is about the American dream. Most talk on that idea starts with the thesis “there is an American Dream” and then moves to specific examples. OPD is unique in that it starts in the fray of reality and poses questions like, “does America’s vast prosperity denote an inner deficiency?” and “is there something more than bald materialism going on in the growth of sub and ex urban America?”

He’s sneaky to proceed inductively like this. As I read his examples of wealth and prosperity in middle
...more
Larry
1st: apologies for my high school essay writing style!

I don't want to regurgitate what you can read on the book flap, or summarize, as other people have done quite well in their reviews already.

Sometimes when I tell my friends that I'm reading David Brooks, they say, "Oh, that conservative guy that write for the New York Times." The funny thing is, I've read some of his op-ed pieces, and I've heard him on NPR, and I'm not sure why he is labled as conservative. He seems pretty pragmatic and middl
...more
Tracey
"America hungers for success, and manifestly is a success, and at the same time suspects that worldly success will be its undoing."

To start this collection of observations, Brooks explores the types of communities in Modern America - starting with the urban "culture-based industries" of the hipster, continuing on to the "crunchy suburbs" (hipsters with kids). Next is the inner ring, combining cocooning with telecommuting, then the suburban core - where the golf concept of "par" seems to rule, f
...more
Emily
"On Paradise Drive" doesn't present much new information but is a pleasant, well put together read anyway. David Brooks spends most of the book arguing that overworked, consumerist American culture is empty and pathetic. He explains how the striving of the American Dream is rooted in the founding of America-- that it has always been a land of fantasy and the dream of opportunity; that the pioneer once strove for more land, healthier livestock while today's suburban family strives for more money, ...more
Kurt Xyst
A surprisingly interesting read. I'm one of those Dems that tends to like how Brooks approaches things, but I didn't know what to expect from him over 280 pages. He does a laudable job of describing and interpreting middle-American life and engaging with the constant critiques of suburbia. Especially ringing is his deft treatment of college students and their formation by the great national Achievatron. (For those in higher ed, that alone makes the book worthwhile.) Philosophically, Brooks gives ...more
Marissa Morrison
Early in this book, Brooks tries to comically sketch different types of Americans (suburbanites, exurbanites, etc). Either I'm completely ignorant of what my fellow Americans are like, or these characterizations are neither accurate nor funny.

I will admit that I didn't read the middle section of this book, where Brooks gives his perspective on how Americans deal with things like shopping and higher education. These topics don't particularly interest me, and I'm not sure that I'd trust Brooks's
...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Woe the conservative who finds favor with the "liberal" press. After his breakthrough turn in Bobos in Paradise, Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, was the rare elephant in the living room that the Blue states could cuddle up to. While none of the criticism seems overtly motivated by politics, there is a tone of disappointment in most of the reviews. Brooks still has a way with his well-honed cultural skewer, although a tendency towards generalizations bothers many critics. The loudest gr

...more
Troy
I read this as part of 'The Paradise Suite' - the book's re-release with 'Bobos in Paradise', his previous book. Together, the two works represent Brooks' attempt at explaining what it means to be a contemporary American, in socio-economic terms. It is a tough topic that many (of whom Brooks' spares few in citing) have taken on, and which Brooks does well with.

On Paradise Drive takes on the ideas of American exceptionalism and consumerism, broadly. At times I feel Brooks is too generous or too o
...more
Meagan
I have great respect for David Brooks and appreciate his clear and thoughtful voice. And yet, this book seems somewhat pointless. Brooks's humor kept me reading for a while, but his analysis of modern society didn't offer anything I didn't already know. Perhaps I'll stick with his columns for now.
Malin Friess
David Brooks has more energy and creativity than I can possibly handle in 285 pages. He takes a witty look at the suburbs (Home Depot, Olive Garden, PTA, over achieving students, bumper sticker parents) and more. And times he is incredibly harsh and describes our suburban culture as incredibly shallow, materialistic, and (we are bimbos or bobos) for endlessly chasing after the perfect car, perfectly green lawn, and the perfect vacation. But at other times Brooks praises the suburban culture for ...more
Kent
from Claire for Christmas 2008

Another interesting read from David Brooks. His humor is pretty good, and his ideas are very good, and his summary is excellent. But I'm not sure if all the many pages he uses to set up his conclusion is necessary or simply padding.

He uses a lot of current American behaviors then tries to defend them by reaching back to Walt Whitman and earlier to describe how people were concerned about America and Americans 150+ years ago. If this was noticed as unique in human hi
...more
Cate
Mar 06, 2008 Cate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in sociology and pop culture.
This is in similar style to Brooks' work "Bobos in Paradise" where he takes a socio-comedic look at middle class American life. The last chapter is the most interesting, where he reflects on what really drives American capitalism--imagination. Americans live in the future--or the promise of the future--which allows us to live in some crappy situations, but hope for much, much more. Brooks ends the book with the following lines, which I think sums up the condition, "Americans have a nobility synd ...more
Shira
This books consists of three things:
-Brooks' poorly supported and somewhat contradictory view of American exceptionalism, which was said better by frontier theorists a century ago.
-Observations repetitive of Bobos in Paradise
-Brooks constantly telling you how his book is satirical criticism and is meant to be funny. But it really wasnt funny--nowhere near the level of Bobos in Paradise.

My favorite part of the book is in the intro, in which Brooks thanks his wife whose plans for a new addition of
...more
Ellen
I didn't care for this book. It's a non-fiction look at the sociology of American society, which is a fascinating subjtect, and according to the back of the book, David Brooks uses humor in his examination of how and why Americans live as they do. I like sociology, I like humor, what could be bad? Well, I didn't find Mr. Brooks's writing particularly funny and none of the points that he made were very earthshaking. He didn't make any deep points and I didn't particulary enjoy reading what he had ...more
Sarah Gorman
The first few chapters were very entertaining.. I liked that. Then he went into his theories and they were slightly interesting but they didn't stand out-- he was lacking. He used language so well in the beginning, the descriptions of the different kinds of people were very vivid. It would have been a much more intriguing book if he could have kept his tone exciting when he spoke of his ideas.. I mean, they're his ideas! The beginning outshined the end-- sometimes thats okay but this book was b ...more
Carl
This book really shines in its first half when David Brooks piles on the wry observations of American demographics. I loved the knowing stereotyping of crunchy Vermonters, compulsive Blackberryers, and the friends-with-benefits modern college crowd. Brooks really has a knack for observing our culture and sharing basic truths about all segments of our society. The book really drags on when it becomes historical and academic. I found myself racing through these sections so they'd be over quicker. ...more
Benjamin
A little too thick on certain sections of satire for my taste. But, a thoughtful take on present day America and how it is preoccupied with thoughts of tomorrow. The last chapter summarizing everything "A History of Imagination" was the best one.

"In Saul Bellow's novel The Adventure of Augie March, one of the characters says to Augie, "You have a nobility syndrome. You can't adjust to the reality situation."

But Brooks feels that this drive for future achievements is not so bad and does perhaps
...more
Ronald Wise
An informal demographic analysis of America, beginning with a brief, humurous tour from the inner cities to the suburbs. Of particular interest to me were his impressions of current child-rearing, and the attitudes of today's college population. Though he occasionally supported his statements with interesting statistics, I remained skeptical of some of his conclusions regarding transcendant American traits. I learned of this book through an interview with Brooks on KUOW's Weekday on 21 June 2004 ...more
Whitney
The first part of this book reads like a less-amusing version of the Pemco commercials here where they "profile" different "Northwest" types. I know Brooks is trying to be a "comic sociologist" but I feel like it's pretty easy to tell which profile he identifies with, given the mean-spiritedness that pervades the other stereotypes. Plus he doesn't even get the neighborhoods right. Pioneer Square as Seattle's "hip bohemian" hood? Maybe in the 1970s. He then goes on to describe Capitol Hill to a T ...more
Gerald Thomson
I know this book is suppose to be about the effects of moving to the suburbs, but it ends up being more about the attitudes of Americans since the founding of the country. I walked away from this book feeling very proud to be a part of this country. Brooks points out all the irrational thinking and contradictions that go with the pursuit of the American Dream, but he also shows the wonderful side of our freedom that allows people to excel, to help others and to attempt to change the world for go ...more
Sean
A sociological study of what it is to be American. At times the sarcasm is laid on so heavy you wonder if there is any point but if you keep with it you see a deeply researched and detailed book of what makes up the American way. You start noticing some of the same observations and you yourself start to see what it is to be of this country. Usually these books are written from some one from outside this country but it's nice to see this perspective from some one who lives in the milieu of Americ ...more
Staci Woodburn
This was lots of fun, but slightly less so that his first book: Bobos in Paradise.

Brooks is great with words and I found it irresistible to read passages out loud to my husband, but the book lacks cohesiveness and is much a compilation of his articles with additional material and witty examples thrown in. There is a distinct frivolity to this books and he obviously indulges himself in rants much to the pleasure of the reader. I don't agree with much of what he says, but I do enjoy reading him.
Kate
Enjoyed this book maybe even more than Bobos in Paradise. Brooks has a lot of insight into American culture. Some of it is sad to me, but a lot of it simply true. And I identify with a lot of it, too...how often do we read a home magazine not simply to get some ideas, but because we in some way have a dream of a whole world and experience represented by the pictures in the magazine. Lots to think about.
Rebecca
I used to think that to live in the suburbs would be a terribly disappointing destination until I read this book. This is a social commentary and helped me realize a lot of things especially that the suburbs are the perfect place for me...and, they were right. I am now very happily living in suburbia. Non-fiction.
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David Brooks is a political and cultural commentator. He is currently a columnist for The New York Times and a commentator on PBS NewsHour. He has previously worked for Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly and National Public Radio.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
More about David Brooks...
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There The Road to Character The Paradise Suite: Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing

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