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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Road to Character by David Brooks

I read this book on the recommendation of my parents,w ho read it for a book group.  I generally like the author's column in the New York Times, although I do not often agree with him.  He is the conservative wing of the op/ed staff, and I am politically more aligned with Bernie Sanders.

This book, which explores what Brooks defines as the two pillars of character, the first being someone who strives to achieve material wealth and notoriety and the other being someone who has moral fiber.  He states that he has been personally more focused on the former, but thinks that this has been an error, and spends much of the book focusing on the later.

Brooks uses the lives of several well known people to illustrate his points.  He suggests that handy tools in the forging of character include suffering, love, humility, vocation and obedience. “Character is a set of dispositions, desires and habits that are slowly engraved during the struggle against your own weakness,” he writes. His world is one in which he assumes acclaim and material wealth is everyone’s moral dilemma. Any reference to how economics – the lack of money or status – shapes character is myopically absent.  I thought this was thought provoking but a bit smug and not his best work.

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