There's a lot about this book that could have gone really wrong. In fact, it's the perfect recipe for disaster. I can imagine the pitch to the publisher, "I'm going to tell a fictional story whose purpose is to briefly summarize each of of more than 50 popular books and bring the disparate ideas together in a way that supports an over-arching, but somewhat nebulous, thesis that humans are primary social and rarely rational. Oh and I'm going to throw in some literature, pop culture, religion and philosophy in just for good measure." If that idea crossed my desk, I don't think I'd care that it was from David Brooks, there's no way I'd believe it could work.And yet... it does. The Social Animal probably won't change they way you live and it probably won't even change your ideas on politics, economics, philsophy or psychology even though it dives into all those areas. What it will do is give you a great jumping off point for further though and research. The underlying story of Harold and Erica is sometimes shallow, but ocassionally poingant. More importantly, it serves its purpose of providing continuity, structure and sometimes a humorous platform for all the ideas in the book.It's nothing new for a journalist or full-time writer to take a few ideas coming from scientists or "real" researchers and write a soon-to-be-forgotten pop-sci book, but The Social Animal stands apart both for the breadth of the ideas it contains and for the enjoyable way that they're presented.