Coming Apart

Coming Apart

The State of White America, 1960-2010

Book - 2012
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Random House, Inc.
Coming Apart - an acclaimed bestseller that explains why white America has become fractured and divided in education and class.

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—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. That 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.

Baker & Taylor
A critique of the white American class structure argues that the paths of social mobility that once advanced the nation are now serving to further isolate an elite upper class while enforcing a growing and resentful white underclass.

Baker
& Taylor

The controversial best-selling author of The Bell Curve presents a sobering critique of the white American class structure that argues that the paths of social mobility that once advanced the nation are now serving to further isolate an elite upper class while enforcing a growing and resentful white underclass, with culturally disastrous potential.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Crown Forum, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307453426
0307453421
Branch Call Number: 305.800973 M
Characteristics: 407 p. :,ill., charts ;,24 cm

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StarGladiator
Jul 20, 2017

Many problems with Murray's work, too many assumptions. First, it is predicated on his fanciful notion that some sort of meritocracy exists in America; doesn't exist between or among various racial categories. As Rothstein's The Color of Law proves unequivocally, the wealth discrepancy between whites and blacks can be solely ascribed to home ownership and the ban on black home ownership in 20th century America.
The variances between white socioeconomic levels still cannot be ascribed to meritocratic reasons until that time an actual meritocracy comes into existence.
Forty-seven years ago there was a series of articles published in The Atlantic magazine [cannot recall the sociologist/author, think his name was Jensen???] which factually proved that the greatest indicator and predictor of success in America was the family one was born into.
I would admit to Murray's sloppy thinking on the day that I see George W. Bush's AFQT scores, which has been denied all my FOIA requests. Since Bush attended enlisted basic training awhile before me, yet miraculously and mysteriously graduated as an officer [!?!?!?!?], and would later - - without ever attending USAF flight school - - be listed on ANG rosters as both an officer [!?!?!?!] and a pilot, is highly indicative of any lack of meritocratic process in America. Could the submediocre John McCain have possibly gotten into the Naval Academy without his war criminal daddy, Admiral McCain, pulling strings????
The late Richard Holbrooke, who flunked the Foreign Service Officer's Exam, and flunked the Army OCS entrance exam, and barely scraped through journalism school, only got into the foreign service - - which he clearly did not qualify for - - due to family connections to Dean Rusk. Each and every time a qualified white person [and other categories, of course, but this author is focusing on whites] was barred from a position due to this nepotistic preference system.
Which exists to this day . . . how many countless corporations did I work at as a contractor which had corporate laws forbidding nepotism, yet practiced it religiously? Far too many . . .
Any inferior American white can be employed as a BPO specialist [the traitor who offshores your job repeatedly] but be unable to qualify as an engineer, programmer, scientist, technican, et cetera!

a
AHylaEHoldorf
Jul 18, 2017

I've got no problem with Murray's look at white people in their natural environment. What's troubling, and deserving of further study, is the assertion that an emerging body of knowledge shows how class inequality is distorting Americans' genetic health. If this is true—if reduced mobility is accreting genetic advantages to the upper class—then libertarians like Murray, liberals and conservatives need a broad, shared campaign against generational inequality as a threat both to our democracy and our public health.

t
TheSandoz
Jun 02, 2017

This book analyses class in the US from 1960s onwards. It consists of three parts: one dealing with the new elite class, one with the new lower class, and the third part drawing some kind of conclusion.
In a nutshell, the core thesis is that a new elite class which is isolated from "mainstream" America, while at the same time a new lower class has emerged in which the core values of industriousness, centrality of marriage, religiosity and honesty have been ditched. According to Murray, the problem is that:

The new upper class still does a good job of practicing some of the virtues, but it no longer preaches them. It has lost self-confidence in the rightness of its own customs and values, and preaches nonjudgmentalism instead.
...
Personally and as families, its members are successful. But they have abdicated their responsibility to set and promulgate standards.

It is the first book by Murray that I read, and I think it is a very good read. The style is engaging, and it is packed with factual information.

For some reasons why there's a breakdown in societies globally and increasing separation of people into upper and lower classes with fewer in the middle, read Rana Foroohar's "Makers and Takers" which details the financializing of capitalist economies, particularly the United States, caused by powerful industry lobbyists for the investment bankers influencing politicians to allow merging of Commercial Banking with Investment Banking, giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy, etc..

h
HANSI_O
Oct 23, 2014

Im trying to puta hold on Coming Apart,by Charles Murray.You seem to have made changes to the system.I want it at Bay Ridge during November at latest.John Morrison

b
bookwormjeph
Sep 08, 2014

An in depth analysis of the state of the USA in 1960 and the differences in 2010. It focuses mostly on the breakdown of communities and society in general and the hollowing out of the middle class. There are likely similarities here in NZ as regard the gap between the rich and poor. The author is open about where he is coming from in regards to his personal politics- he is all for less government, no welfare system etc. He explains the foundation of the American society, how it was laid and the intentions of the founding fathers. He also states this is what makes the US unique and different from other people. This is delivered with a tinge of arrogance and a sense of superiority at times. Look beyond this though and he does lay out a fairly balanced book.

t
tsawwassen
Oct 31, 2012

Charles Murray paints a very disturbing picture of a growing underclass in America which is brutally honest.

When you look at the mass media you see an actual glorification of this underclass everywhere that would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago.

Two TV shows come to mind.

Shameless (US version) and Sons of Anarchy.

Sons of Anarchy is nothing more than the glorification of a criminal biker gang that deals in drugs, extortion, and murder on an almost daily basis.

The moral universe here has been turned upside down because these criminals are portrayed as somehow noble and in the end they get away with their nefarious behaviour and are triumphant in it.

Can you seriously see this on TV in America at any other time in it's history.

On this dimension Murray is totally accurate.

One criticism of Murray however is that he sees America from the distorted prism of the Ivy League, specifically Harvard University.

In one section of the book he talks about visiting a box factory many years ago and being amazed at the complex machines and organization of the place.

He then goes on to say that he has never been in a factory or blue collar setting before or since.

His perception of the world is distorted from his ivy tower.

How does he think that food ends up on his table, and does he consider the vastly complex manufacturing and supply lines that give him every consumer good imaginable from his view over the commons of Harvard University.

Business Administration was clearly not his major.

d
delfon
Oct 26, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/books/review/charles-murray-examines-the-white-working-class-in-coming-apart.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

RedDragon77 Oct 16, 2012

This is a book about white America? seriously! This is a whole book about an issue without a solution? So what is the point/

d
danielestes
Sep 26, 2012

Coming Apart shines an uncomfortable spotlight on the deep-rooted and often controversial problem of social class in 21st century America.

Contrasted here are two distinct lifestyles, the super-affluent and the impoverished under-class, and their differences are a lot more complicated than a simple widening of the income inequality gap. This disparity of social (and physical) separation is greater than ever. And note that the author specifically focuses on white Caucasians because the sample size from both groups is large enough for accurate statistical comparison.

The findings, illustrated through a series of charts and graphs, are disheartening, but should not be too surprising. Some would argue this is a result of not investing enough time and money into eradicating poverty, but I no longer believe that's the correct action. Fixing a problem like this will require something more—a fundamental shift in attitude and character of the citizenry. I'm not sure what this would look like or if it's even possible.

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