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From the bestselling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that historically have joined our 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—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.
CHARLES MURRAY is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He first came to national attention in 1984 with Losing Ground. His subsequent books include In Pursuit, The Bell Curve (with Richard J. Herrnstein), What It Means to Be a Libertarian, Human Accomplishment, In Our Hands, and Real Education. 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.
"I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s 'Coming Apart.'”
--David Brooks, The New York Times
"Mr. Murray's sobering portrait is of a nation where millions of people are losing touch with the founding virtues that have long lent American lives purpose, direction and happiness."
--W. Bradford Wilcox, The Wall Street Journal
"'Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010' brims with ideas about what ails America."
-- The Economist
“a timely investigation into a worsening class divide no one can afford to ignore.”
“[Charles Murray] argues for the need to focus on what has made the U.S. exceptional beyond its wealth and military power...religion, marriage, industriousness, and morality.”
--Booklist (Starred Review)
"Charles Murray ... has written an incisive, alarming, and hugely frustrating book about the state of American society."
--Roger Lowenstein, Bloomberg Businessweek