Listen: David Brooks on defining moral character

David Brooks
David Brooks
Courtesy David Burnett 2011

(This conversation originally aired on May 4, 2015.)

"As the counterculture has consumed the culture — with hipsterism marketed at Urban Outfitters, pre-, non- and extramarital sex a firmly established social expectation and a haze of pot smoke covering entire states — countering the culture takes on a different meaning," writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post.

With his new book, "The Road to Character," David Brooks -- New York Times columnist, PBS "NewsHour" commentator and serial mensch -- emerges as a countercultural leader. His goal is the recovery of "a vast moral vocabulary and set of moral tools, developed over centuries and handed down from generation to generation." His method is to profile "heroes of renunciation" -- a diverse group consisting of men and women, minorities and whites, gay people and straight, aristocratic and blue-collar, generally shaped by tragedy and driven to make unsparing demands on themselves.

New York Times columnist David Brooks talked with MPR News' Kerri Miller about his new book "The Road to Character."