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On Paradise Drive

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


David Brooks (View Bio)
Hardcover: Simon & Schuster, 2004; Paperback: Touchstone, 2005.

On Paradise Drive

"On Paradise Drive again uses social anthropology and astute observation to classify the American people. With a range of source materials -- from Ralph Waldo Emerson to suburban restaurant chains -- Brooks, an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, portrays the country's national character and its sense of limitless possibilities." — The New York Times

"Writing broad social criticism may seem easy enough in a culture ripe with strip malls, cul-de-sacs, oh-so-hip urban neighborhoods and faux urban neighborhoods that seem to have been created just for our lampooning pleasures. But not everyone has the guts and the gifts to contextualize them. Mr. Brooks does. And though he often writes in the schmoozy vein of stand-up comedy, beneath the rat-a-tat-tat of his funny, skewering judgments one can find a coherent — and compelling — theory of life in America today.... The book evolves from a tour of strip malls and food preferences to a tour of the American spirit. It is intoxicating and it is good.... With this fine book [Brooks]...shows how we are more than what we acquire — or hope to." — The Washington Times

"With the sharp wit and penetrating eye that made his last book, BOBOS IN PARADISE, such a great read, Brooks observes and dissects the middle- and upper-middle class natives of the exurbs.... The tour-guide commentary has us laughing as we see our neighbors, and cringing when we recognize ourselves.... Exhilarating.... Brooks is hilarious — and devastatingly accurate." — San Diego Union–Tribune

"Wickedly funny, dead-on social commentary.... This is a fun book.... Full of close and witty descriptions.... Sharp and snappy." — Seattle Times

"The book's overarching theme is itself quite American: The belief that mobility and optimism are the birthright of all American, a solemn (if unwritten) promise as old as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Brooks believes these principles sincerely and admirably. Having read his book, I second his thesis: America is a blessed nation. Paradise Drive is on the horizon." — Campaigns and Elections

"That Brooks has not lost his penchant for bemused social taxonomy is amply demonstrated in the books' first chapter, which takes us on an imaginary drive that begins in a prototypical urban core." — Washington Post Book World

"Partly a binge on curious demographics, another part celebration of America's religion of success, and a happy-go-lucky skewering of suburban types. Like a Borscht Belt comic transported to the Blackberry era, Brooks deploys a unique phraseology to describe stock suburban characters and the ideologies that inform their parenting, education and spirituality." — Rocky Mountain News

"Often amusing, routinely entertaining.... Engaging and...provocative. And Brooks can be hilarious.... Rhythmically impeccable, quotable prose." — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"New York Times op-ed columnist Brooks, whose BOBOS IN PARADISE (2000) anatomized 'the new upper class,' now sends up and celebrates America's middle class in all its vulgarity and yearning.... His account considers what life is like in the several varieties of suburbia; why Americans race so feverishly through life; and whether our purported shallowness is grounded in reality. At the root of American life from its beginnings, he finds, is a pursuit of perfection.... Brooks surveys how middle-class Americans' aspirations manifest themselves in child-rearing, college life, shopping and working.... A genial ode to America that only a snooty French deconstructionist could fail to find amusing and enlightening." — Kirkus Reviews

"Highly entertaining.... ON PARADISE DRIVE is as light as a souffle but deals with the weighty issue of what it means to be an American. It does so with genial good humor, but also with surprising wit and erudition." — Winston-Salem Journal

"For readers feeling glum about America and its place in the world, or those who despairingly look at our culture's cookie cutter, strip mall consumerism and flashbang glitter, Brooks offers a balm with his latest pseudo-sociological treatise.... Playful and sarcastic.... Engagingly written and insightful." — Publishers Weekly

"David Brooks is utterly charming.... Brooks's articulation of [his] ideas is so nuanced, sophisticated, surprising, and funny that agreement seems beside the point. One simply marvels at the exuberance of the exposition. In this way, Brooks realizes the goal, not only for his 'comic sociology' but also for his political journalism, of producing in the listener or reader the same explosion of endorphins that great novels or poems do." — Seattle Weekly

"Brooks's writing has a smart-alecky, P.J. O'Rourke quality; his tone is light, never pedantic.... Brooks...is clever and discerning and defining the American psyche.... As the pastures beyond our cities morph into ever more convoluted entities, expect Brooks to be there to chronicle these changes and shine a light on America with all its vices." — New York Press

"Brooks's strength as a writer is the way he delivers his truths, wrapped in wry humor growing increasingly funnier until the reader recognizes himself as the target. He leaves no middle-class citizen unscathed." — Roanoake Times & World News

"Brooks...goes deep and does funny proud in ON PARADISE DRIVE, his smart-aleck, peculiarly defensive celebration of the American character.... ON PARADISE DRIVE is engaging, and Brooks can be hilarious." — Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

"Brooks, whose BOBOS IN PARADISE anatomized 'the new upper class,' now sends up and celebrates America's middle class in all its vulgarity and yearning.... Brooks...accomplishes an admirable feat: he thoughtfully constructs a critique of American middle-class suburban culture while entertaining the reader with clever, laugh-out-loud observations (it's Jerry Seinfeld meets Modern American Sociology 101).... Brooks puts middle-class America on the analyst's couch and concludes that we are not as shallow as we seem.... A persuasive and inspiring thesis." — Library Journal

"Brooks wields a sharp critical knife.... Along the way he throws off enough laugh out loud insights to fill a shelf of academic tenure books." — ASAP

"Brooks turns his eyes to glittering new cities being created in middle-class and upper-middle-class suburbia.... Hilarious...[a] pleasurable read." — Los Angeles Times

"Brooks takes readers on an often-hilarious road trip through America, making stops at each of the neighborhoods that make up an urban-to-suburban continuum that he says overlays almost every metropolitan area on the continental United States. He uses equal-opportunity satire to portray each subgroup's vision of the American dream and, in the process, draws conclusions about what it is that makes Americans so different from the rest of the world.... Brooks uses the same mixture of fondness and dead-on ridicule in PARADISE that he did in BOBOS." — San Diego Union–Tribune

"Brooks gives us an engaging tour of suburban life, moving from the urban center outward toward the new exurbs, with lots of stops along the way for witty observations.... Brooks may make you think twice about the type of car you drive, the type of grill you have in your backyard, what it means that you're vacationing and dining in your favorite spots, how well you fit into his demographic breakdown. But reading this smart, insightful book will make you enjoy your vacation more." — New Orleans Times-Picayune

"As he did in his justly acclaimed debut, BOBOS IN PARADISE, Brooks blends Tom Wolfe-style reporting with sharp cultural analysis in a clear, unpretentious voice.... In this book, he has descended into the cave of everyday America...and returned with much treasure." — The Kansas City Star

"An exquisitely nuanced look at several varieties of the suburban experience... . Extremely readable, and, in Brooks's hands, comic sociology can be screamingly funny. His imagery is fresh and original, and his data are endlessly fascinating." — Commentary

"A worthy sequel to BOBOS, ON PARADISE DRIVE: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense is engaging, consistently entertaining.... Brooks is a master satirist." — New York Observer

"A rich observational piece and a critique of how we fashion life in the United States.... [Brooks's] research captures everything from the proliferation of 'starter castles' to an explanation of why we're not universally loved by those from other countries. You get the sense that he's nailed it when you read a paragraph, feel a pinch of 'Oh, I do that,' and then mentally wander off to ponder why it is you do what you do. Brooks's work is thought-provoking." — The Roanoake Times

"A lively, deft, and breezy answer to the question that vexes the Big Map Makers: Who are we? Who are we really? — " — National Review

"A hysterically funny and easy read.... What Mr. Brooks finds — after describing contemporary American life and searching for insights from the past — is that Americans are a sublime combination of the crass and material with the transcendental, because we live in hope, always looking to the future and what comes next." — Dallas Morning News

"[Brooks's] distinctive combination of wisdom and wisecracks, now available to readers of this newspaper, was perfected in his previous book, BOBOS IN PARADISE, a funny examination of the 1960's generation as it negotiates the twin perils of aging and prosperity. His new book, ON PARADISE DRIVE: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense, applies the Brooks technique to the whole darn country. He starts by slicing and dicing the population into categories and subcategories, each with its own values and habits and sartorial preferences. Then he turns around and puts us all back together again, reinterpreting his previous examples of our differences as evidence of our essential similarity. It's a bravura performance and always entertaining." — The New York Times Book Review

"[Brooks is] a clever and insightful inspector of the American scene. His earlier book, BOBOS IN PARADISE, was a well-deserved best-seller. ON PARADISE DRIVE is just as funny and perceptive. His brand of comedy is like that of all truly amusing people. He does not tell jokes; instead, he describes things in amusing ways, usually to make a point." — The Wall Street Journal

"[Brooks has] lost none of his eye for telling detail, none of the edge on his lacerating insights into the quirks and pecadilloes of middle-class Americans.... As a 21st-century observer, Brooks has few equals." — Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"[An] illuminating new book." — The New York Sun

"[A] fresh voice on this much worked-over subject." — The New Republic

"One indication of the originality of David Brooks's newest books can be found in the difficulty booksellers may encounter in determining its placement in their stores.... [It] could be called a work of social science or cultural anthropology (the tribe examined being our own). Advertising honchos, marketing gurus, political consultants and pop culture addicts would do well to check out Mr. Brooks's theories for insights that might help identify what sells a candidate, or a candy bar, in the United States of the early 21st century. Then again, you could put this one on the shelf next to Michael Moore and Al Franken, and call it political humor, social criticism, cultural satire.... In the same way that Malcolm Gladwell, in THE TIPPING POINT, pulled off the virtuoso accomplishment of making whole cloth from threads as diverse as the resurgence in popularity of Hush Puppies shoes and the breakthrough idea responsible for the success of 'Sesame Street,' Mr. Brooks has pulled together a vast range of source material — from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Power Point presentations to Cigar Aficionado magazine — to create a picture of the forces that have shaped our national character.... Mr. Brooks makes meaning out of a seemingly unrelated but vastly entertaining assemblage of images of American life.... Oddly, it's an endearing portrait that he paints of us. You get the sense, reading Mr. Brooks, that despite his devastatingly keen ability to skewer so much of what goes on in America, at some fundamental level he has affection and respect for so-called ordinary Americans." — The New York Times

"Imagine a witty, sharp-as-nails social observer and writer who really could explain that distinctive turn-of-the-millennium American character. Someone who could carve out in funny and painful ways the common thread that unites the majority of Americans. David Brooks is that person and more.... Brooks takes a brave stab at defining the culture at large, and does a remarkably admirable job. Americans are driven to fill their hours and minutes with activity, Brooks says, to spend as if their lives depended on it and then to move in search of a blissful tomorrow. It's this search for this secular paradise, this utopian future, that's at the heart of all those manic, comic and endless American quirks Brooks details so brilliantly..... He's funny, and that's a big part of his charm.... But Brooks's accomplishment goes beyond his writing schtick.... No one does it like Brooks. He has the ability to involve his readers, not just in the engaging and structured discourse of the writing. He also makes those readers find themselves in his book." — Buffalo News

"Brooks can make you think and laugh out loud.... He doesn't disappoint the summer armchair vagabond.... It's easy to find yourself in his comic descriptions, as Brooks offers hilarious sendups of every demographic group and lifestyle imaginable.... Beyond the satiric humor, Brooks ponders the nature and character of the American Dream, bolstering his analysis with help from various philosophers, essayists, sociologist, and pollsters. ON PARADISE DRIVE describes a country where everybody's still moving Westward, (and upward), and reinventing themselves on hope. His is a world where frontiers dominate, and the future — ever just around the bend — is as present with those of us today who drive Humvees as it was for our forebears who drove Conestogas.... A tour of the American psyche and its myriad manifestations of some considerable and satisfying force. Like his previous bestseller, BOBOS IN PARADISE, many of us, even if not 'bourgeois bohemians,' will enjoy the ride." — Christian Science Monitor

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