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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Charles Murray

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3651329,724 (3.94)3
Member:AfroFogey
Title:Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
Authors:Charles Murray
Info:Crown Forum (2012), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Social commentary

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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray (2012)

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Excellent book reviewing the state of white America, comparing the difference between 1962 and 2007. By examining the economic and social differences between two towns, one the lowest percentile, the other the highest, the reasons for the economic divergence between the highest and lowest economic strata are exposed. According to Murray, the founding virtues of white society are: Marriage; Honesty; Industriousness and Religiosity. The decline of these virtues in "Fishtown" doccument the fall of lower class white society in America. By adhering to these virtues, the residents and their children of "Belmont" prospered. Sticking completely within the white communities, Murray demonstrates that as marriage and vocation within the society decline, community virtues of participation and religion also falter, causing a cascade of problems that limit opportunities and ambition.
An excellent book with short comments, this is not a good book to sit and read in one swoop, but to savor and think about as he develops his thesis and presents his documentation. There is some math and tables shown to demonstrate his points, but they are fairly easy to understand, especially when they are alarming and unexpected. Highly recommended. ( )
  hadden | Jul 8, 2016 |
Easily one of the most interesting books I've read in ages. I didn't agree with all of his conclusions, but the questions raised are certainly thought provoking. ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
I found this book to be full of stereotypes and thinly supported over generalizations. I lost interest by the third chapter but continued to skim through it. I finally gave up and did not finish the last 4 chapters.
  Lynsey2 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This was an interesting book for the point of view, which I do not wholly agree with. Then again, that is one reason I picked it up.

Murray has a steep hill to climb, and I do not think he is successful: he puts all his faith in culture/society being able to solve problems, taking a dim view on the effect of economics or the beneficial effect of government. This, together with his apparent view that if we were all just 'better' people then things would be better, makes this hard to believe.

To be sure, he points out some things that I think are worthy of looking at: many, many people are increasingly isolated, we are all strangers, and this fraying of social structure makes life more uncertain, higher risk, and increases unfairness and inequality because social bonds between what would be (or are) different classes are broken.

He makes some uncomfortable assertions that one has to at least consider: if wealth and privileged is (socially) heritable, then so must be poverty and disadvantage; and that -at least in part- is self-perpetuating. A central theme for him is that poor, uneducated people make more poor, uneducated people, without any 'help' from e.g. oppression. Uncomfortable... but reasonable... to an extent. (He *repeatedly* waves off economic causes for just about everything, while once and a while giving it a little nod as something that might have some effect sometimes.)

And then he just skips over things. He discusses falling real earnings, increasing part-time work, decreasing full-time work, dissatisfaction, etc. all within, for the most part, a few tens of pages. But he steadfastly refuses to consider any link between these other than a decay of culture.

I still give it three stars because I do feel like, without being the first, he points out many issues. I read this, to a certain extent, as an antidote to always seeing economics, income disparity, etc. pointed to as the root of all evils. While Murray has not convinced me in the least that society (or a lack of a certain kind of society) is the root of all evil, he does remind me that complex problems have complex causes. ( )
  dcunning11235 | May 21, 2014 |
For Ed Feulner, with thanks for my start! Warmest regards, Charles Murray
  efeulner | Mar 28, 2014 |
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In "Coming Apart," Murray seems to have learned a little bit from the racial controversies that greeted his earlier work. Now he sets out to show how similar forces are at work among white people. But his premise and arguments in this book are no less skewed or more persuasive.
added by lquilter | editSalon.com, Joan Walsh (Jan 30, 2012)
 
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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.

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