David Brooks was my guest in the second hour of Monday’s show, taking about his new and engrossing book The Road To Character.
It is a remarkable series of mini-biographies about men and women who ought to be emulated: who teach us how to live. As a spent my senior year in college with Montaigne as a daily companion –I wrote my thesis on his essay on “Friendship”– I was perhaps a little susceptible to Brooks’ chapter on Augustine and Montaigne, but what I learned about Francis Perkins and George C. Marshall standing alone would have made the book worth reading even if the French essayist had not appeared towards the end, paired with Samuel Johnson. I think you will agree. Don’t miss the conversation.
HH: As promised, the New York Times’ David Brooks joins me now to spend an hour talking about his brand new bestseller, The Road To Character, and a marvelous book it is. David, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
DB: It is a great pleasure to be with you again.
HH: Now are you a Game of Thrones guy, because I was just playing the GOT music there.
DB: I am afraid I am not a Game of Thrones guy.
HH: All right, I didn’t think so. I thought when we were at Meet The Press that last time, you admitted as much. But I found an admission in The Road To Character which is truly shocking. You have actually read Ear. Pray. Love?
DB: All the way though. I’m the only man in America who read that book.
HH: You are the only man. Well, I described this, this weekend, to someone as Joseph Epstein meets Tim Keller. And I think you’ll probably like that, right?
DB: Yeah, those are two great people to be like.
HH: Well, you quote them both in the course of the book, but for the benefit of the audience at the beginning, this is about resume virtues and eulogy virtues. It’s about Johnny Unitas V. Joe Namath. It’s about Samuel Johnson V. Michel Montaigne, and Marshall V. Patton. I could go on and on, but I want to begin with really a tough question, David. In the Introduction, Roman Numeral XIII, “I wrote it to be honest to save my own soul.” What does that mean?
DB: Well, you know, I wasn’t in a sort of midlife crisis. If that was the case, I would have been fine with the car. The Porsche would have done it for me. But you know, we all try to be better. We all try to get better. And I would occasionally run across people who radiate an inner light, people who are just patient and calm and good, the sort of people who just show up for people. And you meet them, and when you see them, you’re just sort of amazed at how they’re so good, they’re just so joyful, they’re so happy, they’re so grateful for life. And my reaction always is, you know, I’ve achieved more career success than I ever thought I would, but I haven’t achieved that. And I don’t even know how you get that. I want to know how you go from being, you know, the normal mess most of us are in adolescence, to being a person of integrity, character, joy and spiritual tranquility. And so the book is about people who did that. And I just want to know how you do it. Continue Reading