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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 | [Charles Murray]

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

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.
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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

4.1 (197 )
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  •  
    Fran Murphy Kensington, MD USA 08-20-12
    Fran Murphy Kensington, MD USA 08-20-12 Member Since 2004

    frannim

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    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 Member Since 2015
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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
  •  
    Norman Auburn, CA, United States 03-21-12
    Norman Auburn, CA, United States 03-21-12
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    "Fails to Ask the Real Questions"
    Do you have any additional comments?

    You have to appreciate Murray's desire to speak the hard truths and that is definitely the strength of his book. However, he's a policy man in the end, and much of what he presents is crippled by his avowed libertarianism. For example, he argues that working class men have lost the desire to be

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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