Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
The Road to Character
Cover of The Road to Character
The Road to Character
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • David Brooks challenges us to rebalance the scales between the focus on external success—"résumé virtues"—and our core principles.

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE ECONOMIST

    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 daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives.
    Looking to some of the world's greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.
    Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.
    "Joy," David Brooks writes, "is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes."
    Praise for The Road to Character
    "A hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story."The New York Times Book Review
    "This profound and eloquent book is written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance."—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
    "A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin."—The Guardian

    "Original and eye-opening . . . Brooks is a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave an idea bigger than the sum of its parts."USA Today
  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • David Brooks challenges us to rebalance the scales between the focus on external success—"résumé virtues"—and our core principles.

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE ECONOMIST

    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 daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives.
    Looking to some of the world's greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender. Civil rights pioneers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin learned reticence and the logic of self-discipline, the need to distrust oneself even while waging a noble crusade.
    Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.
    "Joy," David Brooks writes, "is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else. But it comes."
    Praise for The Road to Character
    "A hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story."The New York Times Book Review
    "This profound and eloquent book is written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance."—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
    "A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin."—The Guardian

    "Original and eye-opening . . . Brooks is a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave an idea bigger than the sum of its parts."USA Today
  • Available formats-
    • Kindle Book
    • OverDrive Read
    • EPUB eBook
    Languages:-
    Copies-
    • Available:
      0
    • Library copies:
      1
    Levels-
    • ATOS:
    • Lexile:
    • Interest Level:
    • Text Difficulty:

    Recommended for you

     
    Awards-
    Excerpts-
    • Chapter 1 Chapter 1
      The Shift

      On Sunday evenings my local NPR station rebroadcasts old radio programs. A few years ago I was driving home and heard a program called Command Performance, which was a variety show that went out to the troops during World War II. The episode I happened to hear was broadcast the day after V—J Day, on August 15, 1945.

      The episode featured some of the era's biggest celebrities: Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, and many others. But the most striking feature of the show was its tone of self—effacement and humility. The Allies had just completed one of the noblest military victories in human history. And yet there was no chest beating. Nobody was erecting triumphal arches.
      "Well, it looks like this is it," the host, Bing Crosby, opened. "What can you say at a time like this? You can't throw your skimmer in the air. That's for run—of—the mill holidays. I guess all anybody can do is thank God it's over." The mezzo—soprano Risë Stevens came on and sang a solemn version of "Ave Maria," and then Crosby came back on to summarize the mood: "Today, though, our deep—down feeling is one of humility."

      That sentiment was repeated throughout the broadcast. The actor Burgess Meredith read a passage written by Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent. Pyle had been killed just a few months before, but he had written an article anticipating what victory would mean: "We won this war because our men are brave and because of many other things—​-because of Russia, England, and China and the passage of time and the gift of nature's materials. We did not win it because destiny created us better than all other people. I hope that in victory we are more grateful than proud."

      The show mirrored the reaction of the nation at large. There were rapturous celebrations, certainly. Sailors in San Francisco commandeered cable cars and looted liquor stores. The streets of New York's garment district were five inches deep in confetti.1 But the mood was divided. Joy gave way to solemnity and self—doubt.

      This was in part because the war had been such an epochal event, and had produced such rivers of blood, that individuals felt small in comparison. There was also the manner in which the war in the -Pacific had ended—-with the atomic bomb. People around the world had just seen the savagery human beings are capable of. Now here was a weapon that could make that savagery apocalyptic. "The knowledge of victory was as charged with sorrow and doubt as with joy and gratitude," James Agee wrote in an editorial that week for Time magazine.

      But the modest tone of Command Performance wasn't just a matter of mood or style. The people on that broadcast had been part of one of the most historic victories ever known. But they didn't go around telling themselves how great they were. They didn't print up bumper stickers commemorating their own awesomeness. Their first instinct was to remind themselves they were not morally superior to anyone else. Their collective impulse was to warn themselves against pride and self—glorification. They intuitively resisted the natural human tendency toward excessive self—love.

      I arrived home before the program was over and listened to that radio show in my driveway for a time. Then I went inside and turned on a football game. A quarterback threw a short pass to a wide receiver, who was tackled almost immediately for a two—yard gain. The defensive player did what all professional athletes do these days in moments of personal accomplishment. He did a self—puffing victory dance, as the camera...
    About the Author-
    • David Brooks is one of the nation's leading writers and commentators. He is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and appears regularly on PBS NewsHour and Meet the Press. He is the bestselling author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement; 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.

    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      March 9, 2015
      The road to exceptional character may be unpaved and a bit rocky, yet it is still worth the struggle. This is the basic thesis of Brooks's engrossing treatise on personal morality in today's materialistic, proud world. Brooks (The Social Animal) draws on the dichotomy in human nature proposed by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchick in his 1965 essay "The Lonely Man of Faith," which divides humanity between the external, social-based "Adam I," and internal, moral "Adam II." On this basis, he tackles sin, promiscuity, and the "central" vice of pride. He also formulates a "Humility Code" as a pathway to a secular type of holiness. Brooks puts forward exemplary figures who recognized their inner weaknesses and overcame those flaws through love of God, family, country, and vocation. They include governmental figures like Gen. George Marshall and President Dwight Eisenhower; Catholic social worker Dorothy Day; theologian St. Augustine; "humanist" writers George Eliot, Samuel Johnson, and Michel de Montaigne; and civil rights leaders A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. Brook's poignant and at times quite humorous commentary on the importance of humility and virtue makes for a vital, uplifting read.

    • Kirkus

      March 1, 2015
      New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks' view, show us the light. Given the author's conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks' pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual's life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the "Adam I and Adam II" construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who "wants to have a serene inner character." At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character's shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf-these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one-even those he profiles-is anywhere near flawless. The author's sincere sermon-at times analytical, at times hortatory-remains a hopeful one.

    • Library Journal

      November 15, 2014
      We tend to reward the most obvious successes--and hence the best self-promoters--but does that make for a better society? "New York Times" columnist Brooks, whose books include the No. 1 "New York Times" best seller"The Social Animal", asks us to resist the "Big Me" ethos. With an 11-city tour.

      Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

    • Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review "David Brooks's gift--as he might put it in his swift, engaging way--is for making obscure but potent social studies research accessible and even startling. . . . [The Road to Character is] a hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story. . . . In the age of the selfie, Brooks wishes to exhort us back to a semiclassical sense of self-restraint, self-erasure, and self-suspicion."
    • Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon "David Brooks--the New York Times columnist and PBS commentator whose measured calm gives punditry a good name--offers the building blocks of a meaningful life."--Washingtonian "This profound and eloquent book is written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance."
    • Michael Gerson, The Washington Post "[Brooks] emerges as a countercultural leader. . . . The literary achievement of The Road to Character is inseparable from the virtues of its author. As the reader, you not only want to know about Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine. You also want to know what Brooks makes of Frances Perkins or Saint Augustine. The voice of the book is calm, fair and humane. The highlight of the material is the quality of the author's moral and spiritual judgments."
    • Newsday "A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin."--The Guardian (U.K.) "This learned and engaging book brims with pleasures."
    • USA Today "Original and eye-opening . . . At his best, Brooks is a normative version of Malcolm Gladwell, culling from a wide array of scientists and thinkers to weave an idea bigger than the sum of its parts."
    • The Economist "David Brooks breaks the columnist's fourth wall. . . . There is something affecting in the diligence with which Brooks seeks a cure for his self-diagnosed shallowness by plumbing the depths of others. . . . Brooks's instinct that there is wisdom to be found in literature that cannot be found in the pages of the latest social science journals is well-advised, and the possibility that his book may bring the likes of Eliot or Samuel Johnson--another literary figure about whom he writes with engaging sympathy--to a wider general readership is a heartening thought."--Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker "If you want to be reassured that you are special, you will hate this book. But if you like thoughtful polemics, it is worth logging off Facebook to read it."
    • The Times (U.K.) "Brooks uses the powerful stories of people such as Augustine, George Eliot and Dwight Eisenhower to inspire."
    • Publishers Weekly "Elegant and lucid . . . a pitch-perfect clarion call, issued not with preachy hubris but from a deep place of humility, for awakening to the greatest rewards of living . . . The Road to Character is an essential read in its entirety--Anne Lamott with a harder edge of moral philosophy, Seneca with a softer edge of spiritual sensitivity, E. F. Schumacher for perplexed moderns."--Maria Popova, Brain Pickings "Brooks, author of The Social Animal, offers biographies of a cross section of individuals who struggled against their own weaknesses and limitations and developed strong moral fiber. . . . [He] offers a humility code that cautions against living only for happiness and that recognizes we are ultimately saved by grace."--Booklist "The road to exceptional character may be unpaved and a bit rocky, yet it is still worth the struggle. This is the basic thesis of Brooks's engrossing treatise on personal morality in today's materialistic, proud world. . . . [His] poignant and at times quite humorous commentary on the importance of humility and virtue makes for a vital, uplifting read."
    Title Information+
    • Publisher
      Random House Publishing Group
    • Kindle Book
      Release date:
    • OverDrive Read
      Release date:
    • EPUB eBook
      Release date:
    Digital Rights Information+
    • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

    Status bar:

    You've reached your checkout limit.

    Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

    Close

    You already have this title checked out.

    Want to go to your Checkouts?

    Close

    Recommendation Limit Reached.

    You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 5 titles every 10 day(s).

    Close

    Sign in to recommend this title.

    Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

    Close

    Enhanced Details

    Close
    Close

    Limited availability

    Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

    is available for days.

    Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

    Close

    Permissions

    Close

    The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

    Close

    Holds

    Total holds:


    Close

    Restricted

    Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

    Close

    You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

    To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

    Close

    Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

    There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

    Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

    Close

    You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

    Close

    This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

    Close

    An unexpected error has occurred.

    If this problem persists, please contact support.

    Close

    Close

    NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

    Close
    Buy it now
    and help our library WIN!
    The Road to Character
    The Road to Character
    David Brooks
    Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
    A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
    Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
    Close
    Close

    There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

    Close
    Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

    You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

    If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

    The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

    You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

    Accept to ContinueCancel