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

The Accountability Plateau cover

This new book from libertarian scholar Charles Murray, which
has already
sent
the chattering class into
overdrive
, frames—and decries—how our society has strayed from the traditional
American values of religiosity, honesty, marriage, and industriousness. Part
one of his analysis explains the formation of a new filtered upper class, an
educated and wealthy elite, severely cut off from others in society, both
geographically and culturally. Murray’s
data-filled tables and graphs show that this new class is likelier to be
married and regularly attend religious services, and is less apt to have
children out of wedlock. Part two maps the “new lower class”—the growing
American counterculture comprised of those who eschew the four cultural norms
that Murray sees as defining the “American way of life”—which then perpetuates
the income-linked
achievement gap
. (To ground this analysis in class, not race, he deals
specifically in this book with the country’s white population and its cultural
breakdown.) Part three explains why this rift matters: Murray’s main concern is that these two
worlds lack an arena for interaction. His arguments—notably that graduates from
elite schools tend to marry one another, make more money, live in “SuperZips”
(zip codes saturated with elite residents), and afford their children better
opportunities—have implicit ramifications for education. What’s unclear is
whether Murray
believes that better schools can help to heal the rift.

Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America,
1960-2010
(New York, NY:
Crown Forum, 2012).

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