Biography

David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. He is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics and foreign affairs.

He holds several prestigious positions as a commentator:

  • Bi-weekly Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times
  • Regular analyst on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered

David's newest book, The Road to Character, “explains why selflessness leads to greater success. He tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed, and how we can all strive to build rich inner lives, marked by humility and moral depth. In a society that emphasizes success and external achievement, The Road to Character is a book about inner worth.”

His previous book, The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens, uses the story of a fictional American couple to explain the importance of neuroscience and sociology in understanding America's politics, culture, and future. His other books, Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive are in a style he calls "comic sociology" — descriptions of how we live and "the water we swim in" that are as witty and entertaining as they are revealing and insightful. Bobos in Paradise was a New York Times bestseller.

David is currently teaching a course at Yale University. He holds honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University, Occidental College, among others. In 2010, Brooks became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

David Brooks has worked at The Weekly Standard, joining the magazine at its inception and serving as senior editor. He has been a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for nine years in a range of positions, including op-ed editor.

Credentials

  • Jackson Senior Fellow, Yale University
  • Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
  • Weekly political commentator, PBS NewsHour
  • Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Regular commentator on NPR
  • Former writer, editor or columnist for Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, The Weekly Standard, and other major print media

Topics

These are topics that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest the speakers range and interests.

David tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Politics Today

The Social Animal

  • The Road to Character



    In The Road to Character David Brooks, best-selling author of The Social Animal and New York Times columnist, explains why selflessness leads to greater success


    New York Times #1 Bestseller
    Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Economist

    You could say there are two kinds of virtues in the world, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your CV, the skills that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They're what get talked about at your funeral and they are usually the virtues that exist at the core of your being — whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful, what kind of relationships you formed over your lifetime.

    In this urgent and soul-searching book, David Brooks explores the road to character. We live in a culture that encourages us to think about how to be wealthy and successful, but which leaves many of us inarticulate about how to cultivate the deepest inner life. We know that this deeper life matters, but it becomes subsumed by the day-to-day, and the deepest parts of who we are go unexplored and unstructured. The Road to Character connects us once again to an ancient moral tradition, a tradition that asks us to confront our own weaknesses and grow in response, rather than shallowly focus on our good points. It is a focus David Brooks believes all of us — including himself — need to reconnect with now.

    Telling the stories of people through history who have exemplified the different activities that contribute to a deeper existence, Brooks uses the diverse lives of individuals such as George Eliot, Dwight Eisenhower and Augustine to explore traits such as self-mastery, dignity, vocation and love. He hopes that through considering their lives it will fire the longing we all have to be better, to find the path to character.

    Random House (April 21, 2015)


    Praise

    Profound and eloquent ... written with moral urgency and philosophical elegance
    — Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree

    A powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin ... worth logging off Facebook to read it
    — Oliver Burkeman Guardian

    Everyone concerned about the good life should read this book
    — Tim Montgomerie The Times

    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 — New York Times Book Review

    [Brooks] emerges as a countercultural leader ... The literary achievement of The Road to Character is inseparable from the virtues of its author ... The highlight of the material is the quality of the author's moral and spiritual judgments
    — Michael Gerson Washington Post

    Website

    The Road to Character

  • The Social Animal

    A Story of How Success Happens



    With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life.

    This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica—how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.

    Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “odyssey years” that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.

    The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time, one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.

    Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 3, 2012)
    Random House (March 8, 2011)


    Reviews

    ReviewThe Guardian
    “The Social Animal”The Washington Post

    Praise

    Amazon Guest Reviewer: Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute.

    David Brooks has written an absolutely fascinating book about how we form our emotions and character. Standing at the intersection of brain science and sociology, and writing with the wry wit of a James Thurber, he explores the unconscious mind and how it shapes the way we eat, love, live, vacation, and relate to other people. In The Social Animal, he makes the recent revolution in neuroscience understandable, and he applies it to those things we have the most trouble knowing how to teach: What is the best way to build true relationships? How do we instill imaginative thinking? How do we develop our moral intuitions and wisdom and character? Brooks has always been a keen observer of the way we live. Now he takes us one layer down, to why we live that way.
    — Walter Isaacson

    "Authoritative, impressively learned, and vast in scope."
    Newsweek

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

    "[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

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

    "Provocative and fascinating . . . seeks to do nothing less than revolutionize our notions about how we function and conduct our lives."
    The Philadelphia Inquirer

    "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

  • On Paradise Drive

    How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense



    "As diverse as we are, as complacent as we sometimes seem, Americans are united by a common mentality, which we have inherited from our ancestors and pass on, sometimes unreflectingly, to our kids." "We are united by future-mindedness. We see the present from the vantage point of the future. We are tantalized, at every second of the day, by the awareness of grand possibilities ahead of us, by the bounty we can realize just over the next ridge." "This mentality leads us to work feverishly hard, move more than any other people on earth, switch jobs, switch religions. It made us anxious and optimistic, manic and discombobulating." Even in the superficiality of modern suburban life, there is some deeper impulse still throbbing in the heart of average Americans. That impulse is the subject of this book.

    Simon & Schuster; Revised ed. edition (June 2, 2005)
    Simon & Schuster (May 25, 2004)


  • Bobos in Paradise

    The New Upper Class and How They Got There



    Do you believe that spending ,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending ,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? If so, you might be a Bobo.

    In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," David Brooks coins a new word, Bobo, to describe today's upper class — those who have wed the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise to the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. Their hybrid lifestyle is the atmosphere we breathe, and in this witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age, Brooks has defined a new generation.

    Simon & Schuster Ltd; New edition edition (20 Aug 2001)
    Simon & Schuster Ltd; 1st edition (9 Sep 2000)


  • "The Road to Character" | Politics and Prose
  • Humility in the Time of 'Me'
  • Jobs as Vocation: Finding Meaning in Our Work | Aspen Ideas Festival
  • The Social Animal | TED
  • What is Emergent Thinking? | BigThink
  • On the Road to Character | Intelligence Squared
  • Should you live for your résumé ... or your eulogy? | TED

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The Art of Gracious Leadership
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7 Ways to Find Meaning at Work
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Religion's Wicked Neighbor
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The Green Tech Solution
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The Structure of Gratitude
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Hearts Broken Open
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What Is Your Purpose?
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The Moral Bucket List
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The Moral Injury
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Conflict and Ego
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The Problem With Meaning
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Why Elders Smile
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The Working Nation
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Rhapsody in Realism
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The Art of Focus
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The Big Debate
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The Philosophy of Data
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How People Change
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The Age of Possibility
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The Party of Work
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