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The Road to Character

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  20,992 ratings  ·  2,081 reviews
“I wrote this book not sure I could follow the road to character, but I wanted at least to know what the road looks like and how other people have trodden it.”—David Brooks
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our dai
Hardcover, First Edition, 320 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Random House (first published March 10th 2015)
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John Andrew Definitely one worth discussing. Answering your questions in turn: Yes, yes and yes! Brooks is a deep thinker, and insightful observer of life and the…moreDefinitely one worth discussing. Answering your questions in turn: Yes, yes and yes! Brooks is a deep thinker, and insightful observer of life and the things that make it worth living. Most people are attracted to people who exemplify traits of good character, but few people spend a lot of time or effort trying to improve their own character. Brooks packs the first part of the book with wave after wave of deep, thought provoking insights. After a deep dive into the lives of several historical figures, he summarizes the most important lessons learned in the last chapter. My opinion is that the middle chapters are too long and detailed, and that's the reason I didn't give it 5 stars. I do plan to go back to it again and again to pursue growth in my own character, which is, I believe a worthwhile pursuit for everyone. This book fills a much-needed and underserved niche in every library.(less)

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Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm sure dedicated trend-watchers must view reality TV, political scandals, and the eternal Kim-n-Kanye peep show with unalloyed dismay. Especially for social conservatives, yoked with a sense of moral obligation to the larger society, they must feel an especial impulse to intervene, to stand athwart the downhill slalom they perceive society following, and holler "Stop!" Bill Bennett felt that impulse twenty years ago. The feeling is older than dirt.

David Brooks has represented the voice of mode
Karen Germain
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I spotted David Brooks' latest non-fiction book, The Road to Character, while I was browsing new books available on NetGalley. It looked like something that I might enjoy and perhaps even find to be inspirational. Thank you to Random House for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT - In The Road to Character, New York Times Columnist David Brooks profiles a range of people spanning several eras that he considers to have a strong sense of character. These are mostly ver
Elyse  Walters
I love David Brooks! His book "The Social Animal" was fabulous, and so is this new book, "The Road to Character".

Right from the start--its interesting. He explores the difference between the resume virtues and the eulogy virtues. The eulogy virtues are deeper --exist at the core of our being. (type of character we are) -- yet many of us have thought more about the resume --strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how we develop a profound character.

Throughout the book he exa
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
In this book David Brooks gives what might be considered the longest, and best, commencement speech ever. He speaks personally, yet universally also. He is not just talking to college-leavers but to any of us ready to embark on a new quest in our lives. He takes the reading, experience, and thought of a lifetime and presents us with what he considers to be more important than the pursuit of happiness: the pursuit of goodness, character, morality. Happiness comes as the byproduct of a moral life, ...more
Kressel Housman
David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times and author of this and several other books, has become a baal teshuva (Orthodox Jew). I knew that going into the book, but because it draws from such varied sources, I’m not sure I would have figured it out on my own, but the values here are definitely Jewish. The bulk of the book is made of short biographies of exemplary people, but before I go into those, I must explain the viewpoint of the book overall.

The very first chapter draws from The Lon
Paul Garns
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
David Brooks calls for a cultural shift away from the "Big Me" meritocracy of seeking status and climbing the social ladder, and back in the direction of modesty, self-effacement, and public virtue. Less Kardashians and more regular old good people who lead lives of quiet self-respect, who are secure in their own inner character, and who don't have to broadcast their good deeds to feel important or to get ahead. It's good cultural criticism from one of our finest public intellectuals. ...more
Laura Noggle
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018, no
As a big fan of Ryan Holiday, I jumped into the book a little prematurely after seeing it on this list: If You Only Read A Few Books In 2018, Read These. Even if I had read more reviews before starting, I'm not sure I would have been prepared for the drudgery and sermonizing that awaited.

One might say reading this book is a "character building experience"—as it is long, dry, and painful. In all fairness, the opening and closing of the book were not bad. It's the middle of the book, made up of e
Timothy McCluskey
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While I do not share David Brooks' political views, I do like this book. He is cogent on the lack of deep attention to moral development in our current culture. He is on to something. His approach draws from the lives of a cross section of thinkers, leaders, and parents weaving a tapestry of a moral and a meaningful life.

His style could be better and at times it appears to be a sermon but that does not detract from his argument. Brooks writes that the narcissism -the me generation- is the new n
Carol Storm
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I like David Brooks. I watch him every week on PBS Newshour, and he always seems like such a pleasant man. He wears the most tastefully expensive suits, his cultivated voice is always low and soothing, and his discreetly coiffed silver hair is always perfect.

When I opened this book, I was charmed by the depth of his learning and his admiration for so many amazing men and women of past eras. How can you not love an author who pays tribute to football great Johnny Unitas and Victorian novelist Ge
Jun 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing and poorly set up

I think people's reaction to this book will depend on what they buy it for and hope to get out of it before they even open page one.

We read this for my book club, and it was hard to slog through for me. The premise of Brooks' philosophy has its genesis in earlier work by Joseph Soloveitchik, who believed that there are two creation stories in Genesis because there are two sides to man, an external achievement-focused one and an internal one, which Brooks calls the
Brian Knight
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the journey toward character from several different historical characters. Each chapter David Brooks shares a different person's story. His desire is to point out the different thought processes about character from other time periods... specifically moral realism versus moral romanticism. He develops an argument toward the imbalance within our own time period. Definitely worth a read... even if just for the great stories. ...more
David Brooks doesn't profess to always follow the road to character, but he wanted to know what it looked like. Thus, his motivation for studying people throughout history who made an effort to build their character and follow a moral code of conduct that wouldn't change based on circumstance, their desires, or the fashion of the day.

The book starts with an eloquent introduction. Brooks outlines his thesis that humans have an internal struggle between "Adam 1" (the purest, moral self) and "Adam
James Smith
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Quick take on David Brooks' *Road to Character*: sort of sad we live in a society that needs this book. But we need this book. The real trick? Getting those who *need* to read it to *want* to read it.

Watch for my review in The Hedgehog Review.
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: betterment
This book is basically a collection of essays about people from the past whom he admires. It's basically how the 'virtuous' lived in The Good Ole Days™. He extols "eulogy traits" over "resume traits" but each of these people has quite the resume. If the presidency is on your resume, you don't even need a resume anymore.

He writes about various people and their lives in a more-or-less biographical fashion from birth to death, which is quite repetitive. He also bends over backwards to make their li
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, arc
The introduction and first chapter of this book are both amazing. I mean, I was underlining passages left and right. Brooks is a wonderful writer and very insightful. I thought his summary of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchick's Adam I and Adam II argument (from Soloveitchick's book, Lonely Man of Faith) was thoughtful and easily accessible. There is no doubt that Brooks is most successful when he takes what he knows and what he has read and draws general conclusions and insights about life. I actually ...more
Kevin McAllister
Oct 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
While I do admire the amount of research David Brooks must have put into writing this book, I simply do not agree with his conclusion. And I rather disliked the condescending tone of the book. Thanks for the advice Dave, but no thanks. I've found my own road to character and it suits me just fine. ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I very much like and respect David Brooks; however, this book is not one of his shining accomplishments. I question why he felt a need to write this book. I saw his book review interview on Charlie Rose and I think Brooks is personally struggling with his character after a career as a conservative political pundit and his recent divorce. His universe may be off kilter in his life and being.
Hence this book attempts to define the two characteristics of what makes a person: Adam I being your resum
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who are keen to consider & reevaluate their life, choices made in the past & future goals
The Road to Character by David Brooks is a book that deals with what might be termed behavior modification but which is better-phrased as character enhancement, examining what a collage of rather famous individuals did to overcome their own personal inadequacies. In so-doing, the book examines the difference between what the author lists as resume virtues and eulogy virtues.

Within the framework of resume vs. eulogy virtues, David Brooks counsels the reader that the former is embodied by Adam I,
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think I read this book at just the right time of my life. I heard David Brooks speak at the Sixth & I Synagogue last week and have been entirely inspired by his approach to the question of character. I have been taking a break from my career and reflecting on what my life is all about. He nails it. It is the journey we take to be better human beings - what he calls "eulogy virtues" instead of public successes - the "resume virtues". I think the philosophy he puts forward and the examples of pe ...more
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I like David Brooks, one of the few conservative pundits writing for the “New York Times.” Similar to Thomas Friedman – they both tend to go off on god-awful tangents – Brooks is an excellent writer, and his newest book, “The Road to Character,” is a gem. His premises: we need to rebalance the scales between our “resume virtues” – achieving wealth, fame, and status – and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being, such as kindness, bravery, and honesty. Analyzing the persona ...more
Focus on the deeper values that should govern our lives

In today’s world, it seems that every day someone a new self-help book is published, that will guarantee you to improve your life. The secret of … or the six steps to … it will probably be called, and the author is usually someone who was very succesful and now, finally, is ready to teach you his secret.

Well, the Road to character is not such a book. It is actually quite unpretentious and elegantly simple. Looking at the world’s greatest th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Kaufmann
Excellent book, borderline 5-stars. This is not a "self-help" book. It starts from the premise that our moral ecology has shifted since the end of the Second Wold War from the "little me" to the "Big Me," from self-sacrificing and self-disciplined to self-centered. It is a serious attempt to look at what traits and virtues comprise "character", and what instills those characteristics. These are the virtues and characteristics that I saw more of when I was growing up, and that I have long felt ha ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
A painfully preachy and disappointing book, particularly from an author who was in the process of leaving his wife of 28 years and beginning a relationship with his research assistant, who is 22 years younger than he is. That could be overlooked if the book weren't extremely rambling and filled with examples of horribly flawed people whose flaws Brooks seems to entirely overlook when it's convenient for his point (whatever that might have been), or concentrate on when he thinks it makes his poin ...more
Scott (on temporary hiatus)
The Road to Character was hit or miss, with a slow pace and sometimes long-winded chapters.

But . . . when it worked, it worked. Author Brooks focuses on a cross-section of notable individuals - I especially liked the chapters on Frances Perkins, Dwight Eisenhower, A. Philip Randolph, and George Marshall - and delves into their backgrounds to examine what established and defined their traits / moral strength. Not all included were saints, but many generally worked for the greater good in a larger
Zhiyar Qadri
Sep 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
A very morally biased and distorted approach to character... The examples found in the book as mostly about glorifying self-deceptive traditional ideas about morality and character with no logical basis for them.
If you have a bit of skepticism in you, stay away from this book....
*gave it a chance of 213 pages yet, it didn't make any sense...
Saurabh Shrivastava
Dec 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
By the time you finish reading a line, you forget how it started... This book can put anyone to sleep :)

It was among one the recommended books by Bill G this year... This explains why I can't be a multi billionaire like him :P
I feel sort of dumbfounded. It is an incredibly bizarre thing to read someone come to Jesus in a manner both extremely oblique and extremely public. When you think about David Brooks, though, a man whose job is punditry, it makes more sense. Brooks' job is to know something before anything can actually be known about it. He can't talk about himself, because he talks about ISSUES and history and TOPICS, and he has to talk about whatever way before there is time for reflection. This it makes sense ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Summary: David Brooks explores the issue of character development through the hard-won pursuit of moral virtue, exemplified in the moral quests of people as diverse as Augustine and Bayard Rustin, Frances Perkins and Dorothy Day.

I’ve long followed The New York Times op-ed pieces of David Brooks. Brooks often has seemed to me to be a quiet, reasoned voice speaking against the prevailing cultural winds. I wrote recently about the qualities of charity and cogency in public conversation and have lon
Daniel Wong
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
David Brooks walks us through the minds, lives and inner struggles of a collection of outstanding and inspiring leaders and thinkers in history. He comments on how narcism pervades our present generation and how the culture of “Big Me” is inherently perpetuated by our society’s value and focus on the mastery of an individual's “resume virtues” (ie: exam scores, community service hours, professional achievements, etc.). When emphasized, these are the characteristics that often provides the ticket ...more
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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.

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