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Politics, Culture, and the Way We Live Now

Election years offer a convenient opportunity for collective soul-searching in American society. As we ask ourselves what we want in a candidate, we — consciously or not — prioritize our positions on a variety of moral, economic, and political issues. As we do this individually, it is also worthwhile to reflect on the evolution of the culture and society in which we live. In so doing, we stand to gain insight not only into politics, culture, and the interplay between the two, but also into the forces that shape the way that we think and act as individuals.David Brooks’ visit to the Athenaeum is in the spirit of this inquiry.
Brooks is a prominent author, political commentator, and op-ed columnist for the New York Times whose articles have touched on a wide range of socioeconomic issues, pop culture, and political debates. Originally a self-described liberal who wrote a parody biopic on William F. Buckley, Brooks’ thinking underwent a gradual transformation in the 1980’s, due in part to his contact and debate with Milton Friedman in 1983. His more recent opinion pieces have run the gamut from the Iraq War, to gay marriage, to the culture wars in America between the Left and Right. His writings and commentary have established Brooks as a prominent, distinctive conservative voice on political and social issues.

Apart from his work for the Times op-ed page, which he joined in September 2003, Brooks has worked as a reporter and op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. A graduate of Chicago University with a degree in history, Brooks also recently taught as a visiting professor at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. His recent books, Bobos in Paradise: the New Upper Class and How They Got There (2000) and Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense (2004), offer incisive social commentary on the peculiarities and patterns evident in modern American culture. The Athenaeum and the Salvatori Center are pleased to welcome David Brooks for an evening of similarly insightful commentary at a time of flux, uncertainty, and excitement in American political culture.