Road to Character by David Brooks explores how culture has shifted over the centuries, and how the opinions of people with character have changed. Brooks presents the theory that all humans have 2 parts to them. Adam 1 which is essentially our work personality, and Adam 2 which is our home personality. Brooks presents several aspects of a character like love, struggle, and dignity. Over the 10 chapters, Brooks writes a bit of a biography about 10 different people in history. Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath are just a few. The biographies are filled with research that gives a well-rounded picture of the person being discussed, but the snapshot presented of each life is centered around a specific character trait. Whether it be Eisenhower’s ability to control his temper or Day’s struggle with religion, that is written about, the characteristics presented to give an understanding of not only how why each aspect of a character is worth exploring, but how hard each person worked to develop it.
Brooks said in an interview with CBS This Morning that he wrote this book after studying a character for himself. I think that the truth is that most people in their life will begin to wonder if they are a person of character. We forget that character is developed, and this book is a wonderful reminder of that. I also enjoyed the variety of individuals Brooks wrote about. Each chapter was a history lesson in addition to characteristic exploration.
This book is written for the intellectual learner. I don’t think the average high school student would track with all the details or the way the chapters flow. That being said, this is a great book. Brooks is as easy to read as he is to listen to in an interview.