The Road to Character

Discover profound insights on character development in "The Road to Character" book by David Brooks. Explore the journey from résumé virtues to eulogy virtues, as this thought-provoking work navigates the path to a deeper and more fulfilling self. A timeless guide for those seeking meaning and purpose in life.
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“The Road to Character” is a thought-provoking and introspective book written by renowned author and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Published in 2015, this book delves into the concept of character development and explores the idea that true fulfillment and meaning in life come from cultivating inner virtues rather than focusing solely on external achievements.


In “The Road to Character,” David Brooks contrasts two types of virtues: “Résumé Virtues” and “Eulogy Virtues.” Résumé Virtues are the skills and qualities that contribute to external success, such as wealth, status, and career achievements. On the other hand, Eulogy Virtues are the internal qualities that define us at our core, such as kindness, integrity, and empathy.

Brooks argues that modern society often prioritizes résumé virtues over eulogy virtues, leading individuals to pursue external success at the expense of developing a rich and meaningful character. He introduces the idea of the “crooked timber of humanity,” suggesting that humans are inherently flawed and face an ongoing struggle to overcome their weaknesses and nurture their virtues.

Throughout the book, Brooks shares biographical sketches of individuals who exemplify deep character development. Drawing from historical figures, religious leaders, and everyday heroes, he explores how these individuals navigated the challenges of life to build enduring moral and ethical character.

One of the key concepts in the book is the differentiation between “Adam I” and “Adam II.” Adam I represents the external persona driven by ambition and achievement, while Adam II symbolizes the internal self, focused on character and moral depth. Brooks encourages readers to invest time and effort in developing Adam II, as it is the foundation for a more fulfilling and purposeful life.


“The Road to Character” has received widespread acclaim for its profound insights and engaging storytelling. Critics and readers alike have praised David Brooks for his ability to blend philosophy, psychology, and real-life narratives to create a compelling exploration of character development. The book’s relevance to contemporary society and its call to prioritize inner virtues over external success resonated with many.

Some reviewers have appreciated the way Brooks weaves together the stories of historical figures and individuals from various backgrounds to illustrate the universal struggle for character development. Others have commended the book for its thoughtful reflection on the challenges of modern life and its emphasis on the importance of humility, resilience, and empathy.


“The desires to be a success can lead to a life that is easily distracted by social climbing, personal status, and a relentless pursuit of external achievements. True fulfillment comes from cultivating an inner character that stands the test of time.”
— David Brooks, “The Road to Character”

“We live in a culture that encourages us to showcase our résumé virtues, but it’s the eulogy virtues—our character and how we treat others—that truly define our legacy.”
— David Brooks, “The Road to Character”

“It’s in the struggle against our weaknesses that we find our truest selves. Character is not given to us, but is something we build over time through intentional effort and self-reflection.”
— David Brooks, “The Road to Character”


Q : Who is the target audience for “The Road to Character”?
A : The book is intended for a broad audience, including individuals seeking personal growth, those interested in character development, and readers interested in philosophical explorations of human nature.

Q : How does the book approach the concept of success?
A : “The Road to Character” challenges the conventional notion of success, suggesting that true fulfillment comes from cultivating inner virtues rather than solely focusing on external achievements.

Q : What sets this book apart from other self-help or personal development books?
A : David Brooks’ approach distinguishes itself by blending storytelling, philosophy, and psychology to create a nuanced exploration of character development. The emphasis on historical examples and the universal struggle for virtue adds depth to the narrative.

In conclusion, “The Road to Character” is a compelling exploration of the human struggle for virtue and meaning. David Brooks challenges readers to reconsider the true sources of fulfillment and provides a roadmap for navigating the path to a deeper and more meaningful self. With its engaging narratives, thought-provoking concepts, and universal relevance, this book continues to inspire individuals on their journey toward a life of character and purpose.