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Coming Apart Audiobook

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that have historically joined our social classes.

In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—a divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.

The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. This divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.

The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America.

Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He first came to national attention in 1984 with Losing Ground. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife in Burkittsville, Maryland.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Cox and Murray, Inc. (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A timely investigation into a worsening class divide no one can afford to ignore.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[Charles Murray] argues for the need to focus on what has made the US exceptional beyond its wealth and military power… religion, marriage, industriousness, and morality.” (Booklist)

“This is an immensely important and utterly gripping book…Coming Apart is a model of rigorous sociological inquiry, yet it is also highly readable. After the chronic incoherence of Occupy Wall Street, it comes as a blessed relief. Every American should read it. Too bad only the cognitive elite will.” (Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard and fellow of the Hoover Institution)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (254 )
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4.0 (206 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Sand 08-11-12
    C. Sand 08-11-12
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    "Dividing America Along Lines of Virtue"

    This is probably one of the most important social science books in decades. What binds us together as Americans? What gives us the tools to succeed? Religiosity, Industriousness, Marriage and Respect for Law are the four characteristics that Murray examines using over 50 years of data. He shows how America is dividing into upper and lower classes, and how the change in culture and the college sorting machine are, in large part, responsible for this division. It's an important book and doesn't say what you might guess.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Dr. William W. Schlaepfer 08-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting concepts but too many statistics"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Maybe, I liked the concept of delving into divisions in American society that have arisen during the past 50 years - but became bored over the countless statistics that permeated the delivery of the message


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Coming Apart?

    The broad concepts


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The statistics - some of which were rather marginal in support of the concepts


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    The division of society into Belmont and Fishtown were overdrawn and missed the nuances and also the differences that occur within the respective divisions.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerry 04-16-12
    Gerry 04-16-12

    Amateur history buff

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    "Not suitable for audio"
    What did you like best about Coming Apart? What did you like least?

    This book has some interesting content but due to the large number of charts and accompanying statistics it makes it rather unsuitable as an audio book. If you want to try this I'd recommend reading the book or ebook.


    Was Coming Apart worth the listening time?

    No.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fran Murphy Kensington, MD USA 08-20-12
    Fran Murphy Kensington, MD USA 08-20-12 Member Since 2015

    frannim

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    "Making sense of the Changing Face of America"
    What made the experience of listening to Coming Apart the most enjoyable?

    The Comparisons between "Belmont" the more advantaged and successful fictional town and the more downbeat lifestyles of "Fishtown" were a good method of explaining how our country is growing more divided.


    Which character – as performed by Traber Burns – was your favorite?

    Burns is a great narrator and helps make the content easy to absorb. What is most upsetting about the America Murray portrays is that it is a natural evolution of the things we have always valued, like the role of education in pulling Americans apart.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    having the lives we always wanted is tearing America apart


    Any additional comments?

    Alas to truly understand this book you probably should be consulting a hard copy. There are lots of statistics which are hard to keep in your mind as the narration moves along. Murray's theories are interesting and there does not seem to be a political bias behind them because he is a libertarian.I didn't think I would agree with the premises in this book but it is hard to disagree with the two Americas and how we got here that Murray reveals.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff 12-23-15
    Jeff 12-23-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Murray puts the S in Sycophant"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Perhaps if someone else wrote this book it could have been better. Murray uses primitive "statistics" combined with the web-delivered census data to try to convince us that smart, white people naturally attract each other, breed and all live in the Northeast and send their kids to Harvard. Unfortunately, he doesn't even begin to understand the most basic ideas of statistics yet he goes on to enlighten us all with his brilliant conclusions from genetics, social science, geography and history to name a few.


    Has Coming Apart turned you off from other books in this genre?

    It has turned me off to ANYTHING by Charles Murray. I don't see how anything he has written could even remotely be considered controversial given his total lack of even fundamental understanding of anything he writes about. The worst part though is the sickening, sticky-sweet way he shows he is the worst kind of sycophant for the Ivy League.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I didn't really care about the narrator. He was irrelevant except that he was reading garbage.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Coming Apart?

    I would cancel the whole flipping project and give back all the readers and/or audio book listeners their money if I could. The sad thing is that the pseudo-intellectual way Murray presents his work will certainly hook people who are smart enough to be dangerous and buy into the myth of the smartest people going to Ivy League schools. Do yourselves a favor and pass on this book and the completely debunked myths that it try to put in your brain.


    Any additional comments?

    I've pretty much summarized my thoughts. Not only am I disappointed in the book I am ashamed of myself for having bought it. I will not ask for a refund because I did, in fact, buy it and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I have, however, deleted it from my computer, devices and audible account so that it does not somehow get sticky-gross sycophant juice all over everything else.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-19-15
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 03-19-15 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "AMERICAN HOMOGENIZATION"

    Both “Coming Apart” and “Quiet” are disquisitions on America that have an apparent appeal to a consuming audience. “Coming Apart” points to a belief that America has become an aristocracy of education and money. “Quiet” makes the sociological case that human beings are either extroverted or introverted and that extroverts rule American government and business because they talk the most, and argue the best. Both books infer american cultural homogenization.

    If Murray is right about the homogenization of American management and Cain is right about being misled by too much extroversion and not enough introversion, maybe America is “Coming Apart”. On the other hand, maybe Murray and Cain are just selling books.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Shawn A. Frasier Bountiful, Utah USA 03-06-14
    Shawn A. Frasier Bountiful, Utah USA 03-06-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A Must Read for Every American Citizen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    May not leave you feeling upbeat about our nation, but essential to read and understand for anyone who cares about the future of the republic and how to prepare for the future. It will affect how you educate yourself and plan for your children, where you live and your career plans. Stellar research and carefully-reasoned conclusions. 1963 began what is likely the end of America as we think it is, what we wish it to be, as well as any quaint notions we may harbor about our society.


    What other book might you compare Coming Apart to and why?

    Mark Steyn's End of America comes to mind, as does Huxley's Brave New World


    Have you listened to any of Traber Burns’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    First one. Excellent narration.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The prologue on the world of 1963 and how different our society is today.


    Any additional comments?

    Can't stress too strongly that everyone should read and understand this book. It may require the fortitude of a college course, but the rewards are bountiful.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah New York, New York 03-03-14
    Noah New York, New York 03-03-14
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    "Important and uncomfortable."
    What did you love best about Coming Apart?

    Murray has a thesis - that the upper middle class is evolving into a healthy culture while the working class descends into unhealthy lifestyles - and he defends that thesis convincingly and successfully. This book goes beyond liberal and conservative, and strikes at the ugly heart of something bad that is happening to America.


    What other book might you compare Coming Apart to and why?

    No other book I've read made me realize so starkly that something was deeply wrong with my culture.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The interview with the single mother in "Fishtown" was heartbreaking.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it's too long for that.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Norgama 07-16-12
    Norgama 07-16-12 Listener Since 2010
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    "a must for a sociology major"
    What disappointed you about Coming Apart?

    too many stats, no real story line


    What could Charles Murray have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    discuss more cause and effect of our society structure


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Traber Burns?

    He was fine


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Coming Apart?

    the entire part 1


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-31-12
    Carolyn Milwaukie, OR, United States 03-31-12 Member Since 2007
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    "I would hve preferred an abridged version."
    Would you try another book from Charles Murray and/or Traber Burns?

    Yes.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would have preferred an abridged version of this audiobook. I was occasionally instructed to refer to a figure (presumably a graph, chart, or table) which was irrelevant to me as a listener. Also, when explaining his findings, the author would give percentages of the population who fit into this category or that category. I would have preferred the author to just say that, based on his review of the statistics, these are his assumptions and believes. Then I could have been spared all the statistics. Of course, those people who are interested in the statistics could have purchased the book or an unabridged audio version.


    What about Traber Burns’s performance did you like?

    He did a good job.


    Could you see Coming Apart being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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