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Publisher's Summary

Beginning in the 1950s, America entered a period of unprecedented social reform. This remarkable book demonstrates how the social programs of the 1960s and ’70s had the unintended and perverse effect of slowing and even reversing earlier progress in reducing poverty, crime, ignorance, and discrimination. Using widely understood and accepted data, it conclusively demonstrates that the amalgam of reforms from 1965 to 1970 actually made matters worse.

Why? Charles Murray’s tough-minded answers to this question will please neither radical liberals nor radical conservatives. He offers no easy solutions, but by forcing us to face fundamental intellectual and moral problems about whom we want to help and how, Losing Ground marks an important first step in rethinking social policy.

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 doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife in Burkittsville, Maryland.

©1984 Charles Murray (P)1989 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Without bile and without rhetoric it lays out a stark truth that must be faced." ( Business Week)
"A great book." ( Wall Street Journal)
“A remarkable book. Future discussions of social policy cannot proceed without taking the arguments and evidence of this book into account.” (James S. Coleman, University of Chicago)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Yes

This book is so important. I'm going to be subjective and say it's probably one of the most important that I've finished in my quest for a more complete understanding of why our country is the way it is today in regards to our societal decay amongst minorities. It's all meat, all potatoes. I had no intention whatsoever of learning about who LBJ was, what he was like, or the way he treated people. I honestly don't care. I wanted to know specifically what social policies he championed and their affects. This book delivered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 04-05-13

A great book ruined by a terrible recording

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Nobody - this is completely unlistenable

What did you like best about this story?

Charles Murray's incisive unpacking of statistics is able to illuminate broad social trends in ways that laymen can understand.

What didn’t you like about Robert Morris’s performance?

Recording levels are much too high! The audio regularly peaks, going from inaudible to painful in the same sentence. Worse, there is someone else in the room talking!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No, this was unprofessional and embarrassing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bill
  • United States
  • 01-23-13

A real eye-popper

What did you love best about Losing Ground?

What a great book. I enjoyed the pace of the narration, not too fast or slow, understandable. About the book: Having lived through the events depicted, I found myself feeling as though I was tied down, watching a small child crawl slowly to the edge of a cliff, helpless to save him. I'm now listening to his book "Coming Apart".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting material poorly read

If you don't like statistics this book isn't for you. That said, "Losing Ground" is a very compelling sociology book and a great argument against big government programs that make liberals feel good but do little to improve the plight of the poor and under-privileged. However, as an audiobook it falls short. Mostly because it lacks the graphs making it difficult to digest the data being analysed, but also due to distractions in the performance. Robert Morris reads this books as though he is completely bored with it. At times he shows inflection but overall it is a flat read.

Mr. Morris' read, however, is quite tolerable compared to his sound engineer. Throughout the book we can hear the engineer answering the phone or conversing with visitors and perhaps giving Morris cues. At some points I could understand some of what he was saying, especially when he answers the phone (no ring just, "hello"). He is never silent for more than a few minutes, I think I timed a 30 minute stretch where his voice was not heard. This I found to be an intolerable situation and the reason I could not enjoy the book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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TERRIBLE AUDIO QUALITY!

Where does Losing Ground rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great book, decent reader, clusterfuck of a recording.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Losing Ground?

Trying to be a human compressor in order to interpret the spoken word.

Would you be willing to try another one of Robert Morris’s performances?

yes, so long as he used a different recording engineer and/or studio

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Enlightening book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very poor voice acting

Either the reader is a problem or the audio quality is very bad. Someone needs to retool or just re-record this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • stephen
  • CHICAGO, IL, United States
  • 04-07-17

Recording makes it difficult to listen to

This is an old recording and poor quality at that. I couldn't hear many words at the end of sentences as they just kind of drop off--a combination of the reader's style and low-quality production. The material itself is fascinating and seems as fresh today as when it was written in 1984. I wanted to listen to this after reading Robert Caro's series on LBJ, to here one view on how the Great Society reforms of the 1960s played out. Murray makes a compelling case that reforms enacted to help the poor had the opposite effect of what was intended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • DS
  • 11-19-12

classic Murray

Always an interesting and thought provoking read, Murray turns economic and social policy on it's head and we all know it will never happen because the real politicians don't have the courage.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Important Story - Bad Reader

This reader is extremely hard to follow. It sounds as if he keeps on backing away from the mic and then getting back closer to the mic again. Overall he sounds like he's whispering and most of his words are garbled.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply Modify Statist Education

I have read that there are "moderate" libertarians, and Mr. Murray seems to be just such a one. His statistical analysis of the poor black population, in the time period involving the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s is thorough. Unfortunately, he returned numerous times to the milieu of the U.S. educational system; this he did without once decrying its "compulsory" nature.

Overall this is an excellent audiobook, and Robert Morris did a great job reading the text.