David Brooks wants to be friends

Seated in a booth at Equinox, a generically posh restaurant across the street from his office in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, David Brooks seems shy for a public figure—someone who would rather talk about his heroes Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton than himself. At other tables, men in suits talk in loud voices; Brooks talks in a soft voice, and is wearing a gray sweater, no tie. His media persona, the ubiquitous commentator you see on television, popping up after State of the Union speeches to analyze the president’s performance, is nowhere in evidence. The self-assured columnist we read in the Times has been supplanted by a nervous author preparing for the reception of his new book, The Social Animal. A mint copy had just arrived that morning with no blurbs on the back, only a brief description of the contents adapted from the text. “I don’t think blurbs do much good. I just wanted to explain the book.”

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