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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

highly recommended

i'm not sure why an author has to be "self-aware" as opposed to "self-absorbed" to write on a topic (i can find several examples of excellent books by authors who are most likely self-absorbed). in addition, how a reviewer boasts a solid conclusion to that effect is be...
i'm not sure why an author has to be "self-aware" as opposed to "self-absorbed" to write on a topic (i can find several examples of excellent books by authors who are most likely self-absorbed). in addition, how a reviewer boasts a solid conclusion to that effect is beyond self-righteousness. most likely an effect of being in an elite bubble that Murray wonderfully describes in the book. otherwise, how does a person say something subjective - unless he is a professional psychologist - as calling someone self-absorbed in an assured way as to seem objective? because he assumes he is right about everything, thus making him an elite. perhaps not in status, but in his own mind.

the "Tom Wolfe" reviewer also uses the word "obviously", without backing his assertions up with any amount of proof or argument whatsoever. i found this to be another example of the absolutely obvious nature of the reviewer's self-righteousness.

the statistics and conclusions in this book are incredibly rational with subjective nuances about human nature in tact. i will leave the potential reader with one example that does not necessarily require statistics or more proof than we've all seen with our own eyes: Murray comes to the conclusion that children brought up (gasp!) in two-parent homes do better in life.

Murray also brings up several points regarding the pursuit of happiness as it was originally intented in what he calls "the American Project". in so doing, he uses basic definitions of happiness as opposed to "unhinged hedonism" some may associate with happiness in modern times.

the book brings up excellent points about how culture is affecting destructive or what he calls "unseemly" behavior that results from a society with less codes of honor or morals. one such example he provides is an "unseemly" severence package for a failed CEO. Murray points out that these packages are NOT illegal but are morally reprehensible. in other words, Murray concludes that a society that loses it's moral bearings erodes itself from the inside.

even if one disagrees with Murray's conclusion(s), it will provide the reader with a facinating read for those interested in the social sciences, or even human nature in general. [one can preview Murray's presentation and summary of the book on booktv's website - i believe only the elite would find Charles Murray "self-absorbed" because they can never admit they are wrong or argue on topic]

posted by FrontPorchReview on February 20, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

stats right conclusions wrong; as usual

Tom Wolfe should be ashamed to have his name associated with this book. Mr. Wolfe was self aware enough to know that the subjects he chose to write about were nothing but a small piece of the puzzle. Not so Mr Murrey. In true self absorbed rather than self aware fash...
Tom Wolfe should be ashamed to have his name associated with this book. Mr. Wolfe was self aware enough to know that the subjects he chose to write about were nothing but a small piece of the puzzle. Not so Mr Murrey. In true self absorbed rather than self aware fashion, much like David Brooks, he takes very good statistics and comes to all the wrong conclusions. I had such high hopes.

Read it for the statistics. Read it for the unintentional exposure of how people like Mr. Murrey think. But, despite the subtitle, do not take it seriously as a true sociology report. It is not. His premise that the 'new rich' have isolated themselves to the point they do not understand what goes on outside their "bubble" is true. Obviously he has.

posted by 2145 on February 4, 2012

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  • Posted February 4, 2012

    stats right conclusions wrong; as usual

    Tom Wolfe should be ashamed to have his name associated with this book. Mr. Wolfe was self aware enough to know that the subjects he chose to write about were nothing but a small piece of the puzzle. Not so Mr Murrey. In true self absorbed rather than self aware fashion, much like David Brooks, he takes very good statistics and comes to all the wrong conclusions. I had such high hopes.

    Read it for the statistics. Read it for the unintentional exposure of how people like Mr. Murrey think. But, despite the subtitle, do not take it seriously as a true sociology report. It is not. His premise that the 'new rich' have isolated themselves to the point they do not understand what goes on outside their "bubble" is true. Obviously he has.

    9 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2012

    Interesting points, dry presentation.

    This book was my first reading experience in the field of social sciences. After reading it, I now know why I am not a sociologist.
    The facts that Murray presented in Coming Apart concerning the shifts and changes that have taken place in American society over the last fifty years were very interesting, and he put into words and numbers trends and movements that I have vaguely sensed but never fully understood before.
    However, the sheer amount of detail he included was overwhelming, to say the least. Three hundred pages of detail, followed by another hundred pages of appendices. Everything was presented in an orderly manner with plenty of explanation and interpretation of the data, but I couldn't help thinking as I read, "You could have made the same point just as powerfully in about 1/3 the words".
    As I said, I'm not a sociologist, so there could be elements of the book that I failed to appreciate. However, as a reasonably good reader, I found Coming Apart to be simply too overloaded with dry details. The points the author made were interesting, though, and I for one wouldn't mind reading a condensed version of this book if one were to be published.

    I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required; my opinions are my own.

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