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The disillusionment of David Brooks

The Ezra Klein Show

May 2, 2019

98 minutes

2013 was David Brooks’s worst year. “The realities that used to define my life fell away,” he says. His marriage ended. His children moved out. The conservative movement was undergoing the crack-up that would lead to Donald Trump, and to Brooks’s excommunication.

For Brooks, the past few years have been a radicalization. His new book, The Second Mountain, is an effort to work out a more service- and community-oriented definition of the good life. But on a deeper level, it’s a searing critique of meritocracy, of productivity, and, as I try to get him to admit in this podcast, of capitalism itself. But is Brooks really willing to embrace what that critique demands?

If you liked the “Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle” episode a few weeks back, you’ll love this one.

Book recommendations:

Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris 

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