The Social Animal

A Story of How Success Happens

by David Brooks

  • Published: 05 May 2011
  • Price: £14.99
  • Format: paperback
  • Format: Ebook
  • Extent: 448p
  • ISBN: 9781780720371
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  • Buy it now from Waterstones

This is the happiest story you’ve ever read. It’s about two people who led wonderfully fulfilling lives. They had engrossing careers, earned the respect of their friends, and made important contributions to their neighbourhood, their country, and their world.

The odd thing was, they weren’t born geniuses. They did okay in IQ tests but had no extraordinary physical or mental gifts. They were fine-looking, but they weren’t beautiful. Nobody would have picked them out at a young age and said they were destined for greatness. Yet they achieved this success, and everyone who met them said they had blessed lives.

How did they do it?

Meet Harold and Erica, representative of you and me. In this captivating fable of modern life, New York Times columnist, David Brooks follows their story from birth to old age and explores the forces that expand and limit their choices in life. Why our interest and passions develop, how we decide whom to marry, why emotion trumps IQ, and how the vast power of the unconscious, where most of the mind’s work takes place, plays such a fundamental role in the lives we end up leading.

“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

About David Brooks

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. New York magazine called him "the essential columnist of our time" in a recent profile. He lives with his family in Washington DC.