Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: A Book with Class

     Crown Publishing recently furbished a complementary copy of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray in exchange for an honest book review. Murray takes a look using statistics at what has become of new upper class and the new lower class. It is not our imaginations that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer; I am not referring just to economics. The new class divisions are shaping American culture without a shadow of a doubt. The striking polarity between the new upper class and new lower class is blatantly clear and increasingly further apart.
     Before the 1960s class distinction was not a matter of life. Sure there were classes, but the lifestyle of those classes was not nearly so different as in modern times. Unless you were part of the old wealth, your next door neighbor though they may have earned a more handsome annual salary was not going to live a life that different from yours. So, why the change? What has been the catalyst to widening polarity? According to Murray, the upper new class has been born out of four factors: demand for brain power, wealth, the college sorting machine and homogamy- think "like attracts like" and then they breed.
     The new lower class is suffering as more children are born out of wedlock, raised in single-parent homes and live in areas where the collapse of the American way of life is most predominantly seen. Murray then goes onto show how at the heart of the American way lies marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity. With a plethora of charts and graphs the readers will find the numbers disheartening and unfortunately a fairly clear picture of what is occurring in America will emerge. In the last part of Coming Apart he surmises what our future may hold as a nation.
     Let me point out that the title Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 may be a tad misleading. It is not a racist or biased look at the American population. However, Murray looks at the statistics of the white population, as they are used as the reference point in other studies that compare white rates to those of other people groups. Later, he does add in other ethnicities and the numbers are startlingly almost identical in the charts.
     From the very first page Murray had my attention. Every chapter stood alone as interesting and readable, piquing my curiosity and stimulating many questions. It is a rather long book in the sense that you cannot and should not gloss over the pages quickly. All  300-plus pages are chock full of information that is necessary to digest the gist of the book. With that said, my review certainly cannot do this volume justice. I realized there is a certain dichotomy we live with every day, though in our own bubbles it is easy and may be best to overlook it. Coming Apart points out the dichotomy and dissects it into understandable bits. Coming Apart is a book that can open your eyes to the divergence of the American population so that you may have a better understanding of what is happening in your own country and community at large.

Purchase your own copy of Coming Apart from Amazon.


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