"How much do you value what has made America exceptional, and what are you willing to do to preserve it?" Thus Charles Murray closes out Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, arguably one of the most important books I have read in a very long time. Even though Dr. Murray is a social scientist of some merit, this is the first thing I have read by him. I don't think it will be the last.
Even though the title could cause certain readers to bristle a bit, sounding as if it could be somewhat racial in nature, rest assured such is not the case. Actually, the exact opposite would be true. This cultural study looks exclusively at "white America" (until the very end of the book) as a way of pointing out that what divides us as a society is not race at all, but class.
After recreating for us the world of America in the 1960's (which I found fascinating having been born in 1960) he begins in rather detailed fashion to describe for the reader an upper class and lower class that while not drastic in it's divide 50 years ago, has come to be separated by such a chasm as to be dangerous to the future of our republic. After creating two towns which are only slightly fictitious, one being the enclave of the very rich and highly educated and the other populated by the ever growing lower class, he shows unmistakeably how these "classes" differ on almost every marker our society generally considers to be important.
Even though I will not attempt to give a synopsis of his conclusions, allow me to say they certainly warrant paying very close attention to.
This is a book that even while being very well-researched and extensively documented it is anything but dry and academic. It is not only fascinating and accessible, but quite necessary reading. And it is a book that I could not recommend more highly. Read it and pay very close attention to it.