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The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens, By David Brooks

Nothing succeeds quite like analysing success

The Social Animal is an unusual synthesis of storytelling and science.

It's a fictionalised biography of two people, Harold and Erica, who meet and fall in love and lead happy and successful lives – Harold as a lecturer and historian, Erica as a businesswoman and political strategist.

But the biographical sections are intercut with dispatches from biology, philosophy and the social sciences, to explain how and why Harold and Erica succeed. David Brooks's aim is to demonstrate the point that it's the unconscious that drives us, with the conscious mind providing rationalisations after the event; and to suggest the implications for social policy that findings about human nature have. The tone is a little journalistic, but it's interesting, readable and persuasive.