The Second Mountain

The Quest for a Moral Life

    • 4.1 • 195 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Everybody tells you to live for a cause larger than yourself, but how exactly do you do it? The author of The Road to Character explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world.

“Deeply moving, frequently eloquent and extraordinarily incisive.”—The Washington Post

Every so often, you meet people who radiate joy—who seem to know why they were put on this earth, who glow with a kind of inner light. Life, for these people, has often followed what we might think of as a two-mountain shape. They get out of school, they start a career, and they begin climbing the mountain they thought they were meant to climb. Their goals on this first mountain are the ones our culture endorses: to be a success, to make your mark, to experience personal happiness. But when they get to the top of that mountain, something happens. They look around and find the view . . . unsatisfying. They realize: This wasn’t my mountain after all. There’s another, bigger mountain out there that is actually my mountain.

And so they embark on a new journey. On the second mountain, life moves from self-centered to other-centered. They want the things that are truly worth wanting, not the things other people tell them to want. They embrace a life of interdependence, not independence. They surrender to a life of commitment.

In The Second Mountain, David Brooks explores the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. Our personal fulfillment depends on how well we choose and execute these commitments. Brooks looks at a range of people who have lived joyous, committed lives, and who have embraced the necessity and beauty of dependence. He gathers their wisdom on how to choose a partner, how to pick a vocation, how to live out a philosophy, and how we can begin to integrate our commitments into one overriding purpose.

In short, this book is meant to help us all lead more meaningful lives. But it’s also a provocative social commentary. We live in a society, Brooks argues, that celebrates freedom, that tells us to be true to ourselves, at the expense of surrendering to a cause, rooting ourselves in a neighborhood, binding ourselves to others by social solidarity and love. We have taken individualism to the extreme—and in the process we have torn the social fabric in a thousand different ways. The path to repair is through making deeper commitments. In The Second Mountain, Brooks shows what can happen when we put commitment-making at the center of our lives.

April 16
Random House Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

MacMonkeyTx ,

Pperfectly summarized the crossroads of 2020

This book perfectly summarized the crossroads that was 2020—and how we can each choose better. It spoke to a deep longing in my soul and explained why I cannot reach so many who are simply pursuing things and merit badges.

SolerieuNicolas ,


Sad and pathetic realizations page after page. Not that I disagree with the ideas I found the author fairly immature and cliché in his process. He gets brownie points for his honesty and eloquence but I don’t think this deserves a book. If you want to hear something like this just talk to your neighbor, give compassion and attention to real people rather that loosing a couple hour on this.

Bruce Greenberg ,

The Second Mountain

This book provided a clear and concise roadmap to living a joyful and fullfilled life. It also provided the best argument in favor of a spiritual belief system that I’ve ever read. Read this book. Thank you David Brooks for sharing your journey and insights. I found the truths shared in this book to be profound.

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