Book Review -The Road to Character by David Brooks

I chanced upon this book while randomly browsing through an article in Forbes which listed the favorite books of certain Business leaders  . This one was on Indra Nooyi’s list  . What she said about the book was intriguing and that ‘s what compelled me to pick up this book It’s a very , very good book .

The Road to Character will force you to stop and reflect upon the pillars of your own character , the very core of your value system . David Brooks in this book forces you to reflect on the balance between your “Resume Virtues” and “Eulogy Virtues” .  Resume Virtues – Social Status, fame , wealth and the like . Eulogy virtues are the quiet , basic , the rock of your character –Kindness, integrity , courage ,equanimity . .This he achieves by taking the readers through the lives of some of the world’s greatest leaders . David Brooks explores their lives , to establish that one defining streak of the character that paved the way for their greatness  . He also deftly builds the background and one would see the presence of a supporting figure , a mother ,a father , a partner who lays the foundation of that character virtue by way of the upbringing or presence in the lives . In the process he lays bare their inner struggles and conflicts . and shows the reader how their hour of darkness was dispelled by the brilliance of self-realization .

For example Dwight Eisenhower’s mother was instrumental in emphasizing the virtues of self-restraint vs impulsive behavior . For labor activist Frances Perkins, it was the suppression of tendencies of self-aggrandizement to further greater issues .

It inspires the reader to move away from “Show and tell” culture , self-obsession and narcissism that afflicts our generation The book definitely succeeded in making me reconsider my priorities . The style is sermonizing & Biblical at times . But because the content created such a deep impact I chose to overlook it . Language is eloquent.

It’s easy to either love this book or hate it . Like I said we are also a generation that do not take kindly to advice . Secondly there is also a push towards religion . I believe Character can be independent of religion . Thirdly , if the above create a disinterest , then one would find the pace to be sluggish !!

Well  , since I liked the book I would recommend it !!!

Some pearls

“Self-respect is not the same as self-confidence or self-esteem. Self-respect is not based on IQ or any of the mental or physical gifts that help get you into a competitive college. It is not comparative. It is not earned by being better than other people at something. It is earned by being better than you used to be, by being dependable in times of testing, straight in times of temptation. It emerges in one who is morally dependable. Self-respect is produced by inner triumphs, not external ones.”

“The self-effacing person is soothing and gracious, while the self-promoting person is fragile and jarring. Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time, but egotism is a ravenous hunger in a small space—self-concerned, competitive, and distinction-hungry. Humility is infused with lovely emotions like admiration, companionship, and gratitude.”


One thought on “Book Review -The Road to Character by David Brooks

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