As 2012 comes to a conclusion we look back on the year in books. Non-fiction and fiction. The best book of 2012 goes to Charles Murray's COMING APART. Murray's brilliant dissertation on the United States as it sits today is a read that is powerful, profound and insightful. If you love the U.S. it can also be slightly depressing.
For those who argue (a losing battle) that the United States hasn't been an exceptional and consequential nation in the history of the world - they would be delusional, foolish or both. The founding fathers alone proved to be near beyond the norm of human standards. If one has never read a biography on George Washington, one should scatter themselves to a local library and gather up one on him. For all of our flaws, the United States has produced some amazingly gifted men and women. The obvious people include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, but the real core of the nation's history belongs with "we the people." I realize I only listed men, but the list would be quite long if I didn't edit. The average man and woman produced out of the earth that encompasses the United States managed to bring forth a whole host of remarkable people - almost of whom are now lost to the ages. Have you ever thought who would remember you fifty years past your own death? I have. No one left on planet earth will know I ever existed.
Murray breaks down the country into the narrow and broad elites and then he takes us down the path of the people who clearly are among those 47% that Mitt Romney referred to. Unfortunately for him, that one quote plagued him. The United States was once a collective unit. From the 1600's through the point right past the mid of the 20th century we were in one way or another pretty much all on the same page. That is not to say, that we didn't have different cultures, different mindsets/worldviews, different incomes. We did, but water cooler conversation was exactly that - for all intents and purposes most people could relate on one level or another.
We suffer from a cultural dilemma. It's not economic, it's the culture. Murray argues that Americans have lost their industrious sensibility of hard work - he argues we are no longer honest - he argues that we are losing our religion and that no one wants to get married. Why is it that all of those under thirty-somethings just want to live together? Where is commitment? Without marriage - what kind of family unit do we have? Research just released indicates that the number of two parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children live without a father. That's one in three kids without a dad. Appalling.
We have basically become a bunch of lazy, slacker losers. Look around. Basically, we have. Go to a mall. Sit on a bench and wait one hour and just gaze at all the people passing by. Go home and write down what you saw. Everyone is sloppy, intensely overweight and why are they there in the middle of a weekday? Why is it that people wear pajama bottoms to shop? Why is it that a wide swath of our population seemingly doesn't shower or wash their hair? I'm not attempting to sound like a comic. This is now our reality.
There are so many downright brilliant statements in this book, they are too numerous to mention. The research is topnotch. Quantitative and qualitative research at the top of the game.
Chapter three overloads on the research statistics, so it is the only chapter that may weigh down some readers, but wait until you get to the questionnaire in chapter four. It's a vital realization of truth.
The highly educated elites are getting together at those coffee clutches (I hate those places) and trading their travel sections on Sunday mornings and to them the world seems fine, but we have an underclass that isn't doing a thing. Wait, maybe they are taking meth.
The world has gone mad and Murray puts it all on the page.
Murray starts the book (literally on page one) detailing the day the world changed. November 22, 1963 (the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas) became the symbolic first day of what would be known as the Sixties and of the cultural transformation that wound its course through the subsequent decades. In other words, it was in its own way the day the music died. The sexual revolution brought us divorce, families torn apart, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and an anything goes attitude that is now completely accepted.
Please don't take anything lightly that I said here. I don't want to trivialize the problems that plague the nation or the world, but at times you have to take a breath and at some point realize that ultimately there is nothing funny about any of this. People aren't getting married. It's a fact. Think of all of the ramifications of that. The morality of it is easy. For the secular world it should astound as well. No marriages lead to higher single family homes which statistically leads to higher use of welfare programs. Who pays? No marriages. People will not buy homes in the numbers that they once bought at. Wedding and shower banquet halls are suffering. Please, again, don't think I am trivializing this. I'm not.
People feel they don't need God. We now have the highest suicide rates in our history. Our suicide rate has matched our traffic death numbers. Clearly, the nation must be full of misery and pain. You can't ask where is God if you never seek him. By the way, Murray is not a conservative (he claims to be libertarian) and I don't know if he considers himself a practicing Christian, so he is not approaching this as though he were a member of an Evangelical church.
We cheat, lie and steal and seemingly think it's a good thing.
COMING APART is the single best book of 2012. The best book of the year! Nothing else even comes close. Brilliant, powerful, profound, insightful. A must read for any serious minded or not so serious minded human being living in our time.
Buy this book or check it out at your public library.
Copyright 2012 Read On Read Now