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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.
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 has prepared a public-use Excel file containing the data on SuperZips and the rest of America’s zip codes that he discusses in his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010.
MURRAY ON ‘COMING APART’
“As recently as half a century ago, Americans across all classes showed only minor differences on the Founding virtues. When Americans resisted the idea of being thought part of an upper class or lower class, they were responding to a reality: there really was such a thing as a civic culture that embraced all of them. Today, that is no longer true. Americans have formed a new lower class and a new upper class that have no precedent in our history. American exceptionalism is deteriorating in tandem with this development.”
— “Belmont & Fishtown: On diverging classes in the United States,” The New Criterion, January 2012
“When Americans used to brag about ‘the American way of life’—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity. Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled.”
— “The New American Divide,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2012
PBS NEWSHOUR QUIZ
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT ‘COMING APART’
“I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s ‘Coming Apart.’ I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.”
— David Brooks, The New York Times
“It’s a fabulous book.”
“Charles Murray’s big new study getting great attention. COMING APART. Class divide, not class war. Strongly recommend.”
— @rupertmudoch on Twitter
“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
“Step forward Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, whose new book, Coming Apart, offers by far the best available analysis of modern American inequality — and a much-needed antidote to the campaign for a European America.”
— Niall Ferguson in The Daily Beast
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