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The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life

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For those starting out in their careers--and those who wish to advance more quickly--this is a delightfully fussy guide to the hidden rules of the road in the workplace and in life. As bestselling author and social historian Charles Murray explains, at senior levels of an organization there are curmudgeons everywhere, judging your every move. Yet it is their good opinion yo For those starting out in their careers--and those who wish to advance more quickly--this is a delightfully fussy guide to the hidden rules of the road in the workplace and in life. As bestselling author and social historian Charles Murray explains, at senior levels of an organization there are curmudgeons everywhere, judging your every move. Yet it is their good opinion you need to win if you hope to get ahead. Among the curmudgeon's day-to-day tips for the workplace: - Excise the word "like" from your spoken English - Don't suck up - Stop "reaching out" and "sharing" - Rid yourself of piercings, tattoos, and weird hair colors - Make strong language count His larger career advice includes: - What to do if you have a bad boss - Coming to grips with the difference between being nice and being good - How to write when you don't know what to say - Being judgmental (it's good, and you don't have a choice anyway) And on the great topics of life, the curmudgeon urges us to leave home no matter what, get real jobs (not internships), put ourselves in scary situations, and watch Groundhog Day repeatedly (he'll explain). Witty, wise, and pulling no punches, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead is an indispensable sourcebook for living an adult life.


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For those starting out in their careers--and those who wish to advance more quickly--this is a delightfully fussy guide to the hidden rules of the road in the workplace and in life. As bestselling author and social historian Charles Murray explains, at senior levels of an organization there are curmudgeons everywhere, judging your every move. Yet it is their good opinion yo For those starting out in their careers--and those who wish to advance more quickly--this is a delightfully fussy guide to the hidden rules of the road in the workplace and in life. As bestselling author and social historian Charles Murray explains, at senior levels of an organization there are curmudgeons everywhere, judging your every move. Yet it is their good opinion you need to win if you hope to get ahead. Among the curmudgeon's day-to-day tips for the workplace: - Excise the word "like" from your spoken English - Don't suck up - Stop "reaching out" and "sharing" - Rid yourself of piercings, tattoos, and weird hair colors - Make strong language count His larger career advice includes: - What to do if you have a bad boss - Coming to grips with the difference between being nice and being good - How to write when you don't know what to say - Being judgmental (it's good, and you don't have a choice anyway) And on the great topics of life, the curmudgeon urges us to leave home no matter what, get real jobs (not internships), put ourselves in scary situations, and watch Groundhog Day repeatedly (he'll explain). Witty, wise, and pulling no punches, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead is an indispensable sourcebook for living an adult life.

30 review for The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book started out as a 4 and ended as a 2 for me, so I gave it the happy-medium 3. This book is somewhat outside the realm of what I normally read. My dad read it and told me that he could have written, he agreed with the author's point of view that much. It was short, so I decided to go ahead and give it a go. I was totally with the author in the beginning. I feel like I'm still on the border of being the target audience for him (twenty-somethings trying to forge their way in the corporate This book started out as a 4 and ended as a 2 for me, so I gave it the happy-medium 3. This book is somewhat outside the realm of what I normally read. My dad read it and told me that he could have written, he agreed with the author's point of view that much. It was short, so I decided to go ahead and give it a go. I was totally with the author in the beginning. I feel like I'm still on the border of being the target audience for him (twenty-somethings trying to forge their way in the corporate world/life)... *mostly* because I am still in denial about the fact that I am 30... and partly because I still feel clueless about my direction in life. The beginning of this book made me feel like a curmudgeon too, because I found myself thinking "yes, yes!" to a lot of what he was saying. I worked in the same corporate/office environment for about 6 years, moving my way up the ladder until I was managing a department, hiring and firing employees and whatnot. Having made my way through a lot of office politics BS and experiencing a pretty cutthroat atmosphere, a lot of the advice he gave about how to please curmudgeons also pleased me as a middle-manager. Things that drive ME crazy about colleagues and employees. Taking care to use common sense, appreciate the English language, leaving your sense of entitlement at the door, etc. Then he started to lose me. Once the author started going off on a tangent about how to live a good life and pursue happiness, I pretty much stopped agreeing. Charles Murray is a self-described curmudgeon, but he uses that title to try and get away with being narrow-minded and judgemental, falling back on the "well I'm just an old man set in my ways, so I'm allowed to be this way and I know I'm right and don't care anymore about being reasonable." Here's the thing that got me the most: Humans have been trying to discover the meaning of life and purpose on this planet since we developed the ability to think in abstract terms and anticipate our own eventual, and inevitable, deaths. In a trite 50 pages, Mr. Murray condescendingly declares that he "knows" how humans should think, how they should live, and pretty much blatantly tells you that if you can't see it how he sees it, it's simply because you aren't smart enough to "get it" yet. He will break it down, then, and throw in demeaning sentences like "Can we at least agree on this?" or "Are you at least on board with this?". He seems to be a victim of the age-old problem that smart people with a little bit of knowledge think they know everything and close themselves off to further wisdom and knowledge because they believe they are smart enough to have it all figured out. The one section in particular that irked me was his views on being judgemental. To a point, I get it. People sacrifice their points of view and are afraid to have opinions in the name of being "Non-judgemental." He accurately points out that, as human beings with logical brains and an overwhelming amount of sensory data coming in, we are required to make judgements every minute of our lives. We shouldn't pretend that we don't, or that it's necessarily a bad thing. But he uses that as an excuse to rationalize being defiantly judgemental about everything, chastising his readers if they don't have strong opinions or closed minds about everything that is available in the world to have opinions about. He doesn't seem to acknowledge or accept that just because something makes logical sense to you as an individual doesn't mean that there isn't knowledge out there that could make you wrong. It's a logical fallacy that is explored quite a bit in social psychology experiments and research. Correlation is not causation, and just because something makes sense to you doesn't mean that you should unreservedly spout your point of view without being open to more information. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After I finished reading his book, I looked up this author because he sounded very, very familiar. Then I realize he was one of the authors behind The Bell Curve and that same kind of "here is correlating data, and here's an explanation that makes sense to me, so that must be the causation because I'm obviously smart enough to have taken every piece of information into objective consideration" logic. People have been using that research to "prove" that different races are inherently intellectually inferior for years now. I still think the book is worth a read because it's quick. The first half has some great advice, and the second half will either reinforce your own views and make you feel good about yourself, or at least maybe force you to compose a coherent argument against it that the author will never read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Presenting: How to Please an Older White Man who has Grown Intellectually Rigid and Dull (Bonus: A Guide for Minorities on How to be Regarded as "One of the Good Ones") With such wisdom as: Go to war, it will toughen you up! The economic situation I faced as a baby boomer coming out of college during one of the largest economic booms in the nation was just as challenging as the situation today. Stop whining! Your generation is going to pot (Don't worry, I hate my generation too!) Our civilization is dy Presenting: How to Please an Older White Man who has Grown Intellectually Rigid and Dull (Bonus: A Guide for Minorities on How to be Regarded as "One of the Good Ones") With such wisdom as: Go to war, it will toughen you up! The economic situation I faced as a baby boomer coming out of college during one of the largest economic booms in the nation was just as challenging as the situation today. Stop whining! Your generation is going to pot (Don't worry, I hate my generation too!) Our civilization is dying! Maybe Christianity isn't worth dismissing outright (you can keep ignoring other religions, though) Today's parents coddle their children, and should yell at them more to toughen them up! You people are selfish, and only want things your way! Here is an entire book dedicated to pleasing me personally, with neither justification for my preferences nor assurance anyone else holds them! Any sort of deviation from the cultural norms I'm used to will be regarded as gross, and I will express my hidden resentment by using my power to ensure you don't get promoted (hopefully I can get you fired)! Work hard, please your bosses, and you'll get ahead. You need not consciously work on your plan for advancement nor really deliver important results. Just work hard, and strive not to get noticed, and the corporation will take care of you!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Book

    Some alternate title suggestions for Mr. Murray: - White Privilege In Action - Grumpy Old Businessmen - Look At All The Words I Know - Stop Being A Young Whippersnapper, All You Whippersnappers - I Am Never Wrong About Anything And So Can You - Kids These Days, Am I Right? - Death Rattle Of The Business Class

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marta

    My conclusion after read this is that I am a curmudgeon. I feel validated.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    If somebody told me I'd love this so much, I'd have told them to piss the fuck off. Because, whoever thinks I might like the farts of conservative old fart, doesn't know me at all. Well, seems it is me who doesn't know my very self. Good deal of this book can be sorted into the Conservative folder without too much thinking. But at the same time, I can't pretend I don't see depth and more than a hint of truth in every single one of these thoughts. It strikes me as a wisdom that I can't strike back. If somebody told me I'd love this so much, I'd have told them to piss the fuck off. Because, whoever thinks I might like the farts of conservative old fart, doesn't know me at all. Well, seems it is me who doesn't know my very self. Good deal of this book can be sorted into the Conservative folder without too much thinking. But at the same time, I can't pretend I don't see depth and more than a hint of truth in every single one of these thoughts. It strikes me as a wisdom that I can't strike back. Just take the punch and accept that some things won't change no matter how much we pretend to our tolerance. There's also part on realizing one's potentials in career. It's least conservative, and it's pure gold. It should also be considered required reading to young college people at the end of their studies. It could help them avoid the usual pitfalls of starting working life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Rolfe

    Write well. Think well. Live a good life. Tightly written and beautifully read in Audible by the author. It's an old man's advice to the young, but I learned a lot. What I didn't "learn" I agreed with e.g. his advice on behavior in the workplace. And I incorporated his suggestions on writing as soon as I read them. I already owned The Bell Curve, but I bought the rest of his books today. Write well. Think well. Live a good life. Tightly written and beautifully read in Audible by the author. It's an old man's advice to the young, but I learned a lot. What I didn't "learn" I agreed with e.g. his advice on behavior in the workplace. And I incorporated his suggestions on writing as soon as I read them. I already owned The Bell Curve, but I bought the rest of his books today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    To be clear, my 1 star rating is about the content of the book and to some extent, the qualities of the author, not the quality of the writing. This is an insidious book. I bought the book because it was an Audible Daily Deal and I thought it would delve into the psychology of the older generation of (primarily) men who run Corporate America with the goal of better understanding my management chain (I'm 29 and run a group of data scientist - where I work everyone, including PhDs, uses first names To be clear, my 1 star rating is about the content of the book and to some extent, the qualities of the author, not the quality of the writing. This is an insidious book. I bought the book because it was an Audible Daily Deal and I thought it would delve into the psychology of the older generation of (primarily) men who run Corporate America with the goal of better understanding my management chain (I'm 29 and run a group of data scientist - where I work everyone, including PhDs, uses first names and no honorifics and this book suggested I might be driving people nuts by doing that). As the book began it felt just like that, some tips about how curmudgeonly people can be and how to deal with them. But then I realized something. The author admitted to, made no apology for, and indicated he thought it was fine, completely dismissing a human being in the work force based on their appearance. Yeah - this is the kind of person who decades ago would have laughed a woman out of an interview because "Women don't work outside the home" or would have had a person of color thrown out of the building. Sure, he claims to be a gentleman, purports sympathy for women with sexual predator bosses, the LGBT community (well, maybe just the LG part of that) with homosexualmismic bosses or non-Caucasian people with racist bosses yet says he would refuse to hire someone because they swear too much or have visible tattoos, body piercings (other than ear piercings for women because they're supposed to doll themselves up to look pretty) or non-natural hair colors. To be fair, if the job revolves around client interactions and the language might be offputting to the client, that's one thing because it relates to the ability to do the job well not to a persons behavior. If you don't use the right honorifics when addressing this god of a man you'll pay for it in comp reviews because, srsly, how dare you? I'm sure Charles would prefer if we still lived in Victorian England where he could have so many more measures by which to disdain, judge and dispose of other human beings. Then he launched into his tirade over language. If I thought he wanted to live in Victorian England or some other weird world where you have to bow at just the correct angle to a person X stations above you in life or be considered rude then he must certainly wish that we all still spoke whatever the first language of humankind was. Charles doesn't seem to understand that the point of language is to communicate and if a person can make themselves understood to another that's sufficient. Language evolves over time. Words that didn't exist, spring into existence when they are needed/wanted by people (his list of words that aren't really words is asinine - no word exists until someone uses it and another person understands it). And for all that, for all his nitpicking about things which may matter in a legal briefing where fine distinctions may be required (which will only be read by people with the training to understand them, which is a completely different scenario from an office memo or an email) Charles doesn't seem to understand what the word agnostic means. Charles - let me help you out here. The prefix a- means without, gnosis is a Greek word which means knowledge. Agnostic is not the step being Deistic and Atheistic, it's in a who separate category. An agnostic has no knowledge of something (though it is commonly understood to mean no knowledge of god). An atheist has no BELIEF. Belief and knowledge are completely different. Yet you referred to yourself as an agnostic within your section about faith. Clearly you have a lazy mind and shouldn't be taken seriously. My final major issue with Charles is around how little thought he puts into things. I don't remember the exact painting he juxtaposed against the nude on black velvet, but it's inconsequential. Charles was correct when he asserted that your friend's preference is inarguable. However, he apparently shut down his critical thinking center when he said that it was possible to factually assess which painting had more inherent artistic quality to it. There is no standard of "artistic quality" except one which started as an opinion. There may be great classical critics who laid out some framework but to judge inherent artistic quality by those standards is to judge according to their opinion rather than your own. If indeed, as Charles suggests, such a judgement could be rendered, then there must be one single paining which is, above all others, the best painting and every other paining may be expressed as a rank relative to that best. Similarly, there is one best opera, one best concerto, one best books, one best movie, one best wine, etc... He talks of studying the history of these things and gaining knowledge yet a moderately well read person would know Orley Ashenfelter developed a formula to assess the quality of wine which does a better job than well regarded critics. Further more, studies have shown that putting red food coloring in white wines will result in people tasting the more robust flavor of a red. David Cope wrote an alogirthm which composes symphonies - when these are reviewed by "quality" critics who believe a human composed them, they are "warm, spiritual, delightful" pieces yet when they know a computer composed them from the beginning, they are "technically excellent but lacking warmth." Critics don't bring anything to the table but opinions. So when he calls for people to judge things as "virtuous" or "vulgar" he is really calling for HIS opinion to be used in judging these things. Human happiness cannot flourish if we live in a world where it is acceptable to label the things we (a small or large group) don't like as vulgar and label the things we do like as virtuous. For his love of faith as a guiding principle he doesn't recognize that major faiths disagree on what is vulgar and what is virtuous. There are Christians who believe HItler was doing God's work, there are others who believe caring for the poor is wrong. Who is right? Who is virtuous? Who is vulgar? We must remain vigilant against any group who attempts to leverage judgement based on their opinions and call it moral. Charles Murray, according to the words he wrote in this book, is a vulgar, petty, ugly man. One who hates people different from himself and wants a world where he can institutionalize that hate. AVOID THIS BOOK.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Miller

    I really appreciated the 'straight up and down', 'some things are better than others' approach when reading about how one should go about one's business. We most of us 'young-uns' do tend to over-extrapolate things, and mollycoddle every need and desire, and in the process we lose much of the ability to hold resolute opinions. Be warned, many readers may well get a bit put off when he starts saying things like- "you reach an age when it's time to start taking religion seriously", or find his wor I really appreciated the 'straight up and down', 'some things are better than others' approach when reading about how one should go about one's business. We most of us 'young-uns' do tend to over-extrapolate things, and mollycoddle every need and desire, and in the process we lose much of the ability to hold resolute opinions. Be warned, many readers may well get a bit put off when he starts saying things like- "you reach an age when it's time to start taking religion seriously", or find his workplace decorum completely old hat. But I would stick with it- perhaps as a generation it's wiser to understand what we're leaving instead of Ok Boomering it to oblivion. Solid as a rock, for a point of reference at the very least. Here I have eaten and shot, and now surely I have left.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Summers

    A very wise book. I wish I'd had it in my early twenties. A very wise book. I wish I'd had it in my early twenties.

  10. 5 out of 5

    T

    Moody conservative uncle gives half decent life and writing advice, whilst bemoaning boomers and their millenial grandkids

  11. 4 out of 5

    John of Canada

    Years ago I was working with a young fellow who called me a curmudgeon.I said :do you even know what a curmudgeon is?He said:Uh,crusty?I said okay,carry on. I really got a lot out of this book despite my crustiness.Five stars.Four for the book and an extra star for the progressives that hated it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom Stamper

    Murray says employers expect kids coming out of college to be adults. So look at yourself through Murray's lens and ask whether you are making a good enough adult. Being an adult is not as fun at it seems when you ten so you won't like a lot of the advice. Some of it may not help you at all. None of it will hurt you. The rest of it may change a moment here or there that creates an opportunity that you wouldn't have otherwise had. I can see how I would have disliked a lot of the advice in my youn Murray says employers expect kids coming out of college to be adults. So look at yourself through Murray's lens and ask whether you are making a good enough adult. Being an adult is not as fun at it seems when you ten so you won't like a lot of the advice. Some of it may not help you at all. None of it will hurt you. The rest of it may change a moment here or there that creates an opportunity that you wouldn't have otherwise had. I can see how I would have disliked a lot of the advice in my younger years. When we're young we are striving for authenticity and individuality. Advice from our elders endangers that. My approach was to work harder than my co-workers and then I could get away with my little rebellions. That works if you have the right leaders, but you won't always have the right leaders. You have to convince the wrong leaders to see your virtues too. And they all won't care how hard you work. They'll want to know if you are a team player or if you are a good ambassador for the business or have sound judgment. Some of them will be happy if you don't annoy them. That's why Murray's advice is sage. If you look and act professional and your contemporaries don't, you will get credit for a lot of depth before you even have it. It will open doors. And by the time you are forty you are going to be an individual anyway and you'll wonder why you ever thought such a thing was in doubt. If you work for a living this book will help you. Show up as a plumber or an electrician and speak well and look presentable and people will recommend you to their friends. They won't know the difference between a good or great plumber but they will know the difference between a mediocre or fully functional person. The same goes for your future spouse and in-laws. Here are a few notes I wrote down as I read that I don't want to forget: Be able to speak and write well. Present yourself in a professional way. Be sure you like the person you marry as much as you love them. Passions alone are not a good indicator of compatibility. Be judgmental. Some things are superior to others. Being fashionably relativist is the opposite of courage. Take religion seriously even if you are an unbeliever. Study it like a lawyer studies the law.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    Life advice from Charles Murray- "If you think you have a bad boss, first go into a quiet room, look deep into your soul, and determine whether you are a victim or a self-absorbed naif." (pg 42) Um, what? I have mixed opinions on Charles Murray as a person, but his writing wasn't for me. It's an effortless read. Perhaps too effortless. It did bring up SOME mildly interesting points, but it's mostly common sense, and Murrray's ego is unnecessarily omnipresent throughout the text. Being as this is a GU Life advice from Charles Murray- "If you think you have a bad boss, first go into a quiet room, look deep into your soul, and determine whether you are a victim or a self-absorbed naif." (pg 42) Um, what? I have mixed opinions on Charles Murray as a person, but his writing wasn't for me. It's an effortless read. Perhaps too effortless. It did bring up SOME mildly interesting points, but it's mostly common sense, and Murrray's ego is unnecessarily omnipresent throughout the text. Being as this is a GUIDE, the writing isn't terrific- but he could do without the overbearing pompous and condescending tone he speaks with. It'd make his writing, and especially his "advice" more accessible, relatable, and trustworthy. I also hated that he recommended books and movies to the reader, assuming that we would love them as he did. Thoughtful, but not when you say it like this- (Upon recommending watching the film "Groundhog Day"): "Why is it a good thing to understand this movie so well? Because it will help you live a good life. Absorbing the deep meaning of the Nicomachean Ethics will also help you live a good life, but Groundhog Day will do it with a lot less effort." pg 142. So he's telling us something will help us live a good life based on the mere fact that he enjoyed it himself. Not to mention he's encouraging laziness. I wouldn't recommend to read this if you're a fan of good literature. If you're looking for something quick to read, or perhaps make fun of, I'd suggest picking this up. I'm still questioning why I read this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Walker

    I generally enjoy books about clarity in writing but the lists of words which are frequently misused seemed a little too esoteric for me. It reminded me of a teacher who automatically downgraded our papers if we used the word "presently" to mean at this moment and not an event which would soon come to pass (which he contended was the only definition). To this day when I read a news article using "presently" in lieu of currently, I cringe, and yet if you consult a dictionary that is an acceptable I generally enjoy books about clarity in writing but the lists of words which are frequently misused seemed a little too esoteric for me. It reminded me of a teacher who automatically downgraded our papers if we used the word "presently" to mean at this moment and not an event which would soon come to pass (which he contended was the only definition). To this day when I read a news article using "presently" in lieu of currently, I cringe, and yet if you consult a dictionary that is an acceptable second definition probably brought on by a shift in usage. Many of Mr. Murray's words and advice appear to fall in this category. Also, I don't agree with his recommendation that our young marry in their 20's and grow together as they struggle to establish themselves financially. Establishing a successful career requires intense focus as does a new marriage; one or the other would inevitably be shortchanged. I did love his approach to writing by returning to what was written and paring it down for simpler, clearer presentation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jarrett

    A dude from American Enterprise Institute actually has some really important things to say about the correct attitude to be taken to work. Target audience 20-somethings just out of college. I read it in three hours while on a plane. Totally inspired me, and challenged my thinking about many things.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Loved this book from start to finish. I think this should be the next (and more useful) version of "Oh the Places You'll Go" Loved this book from start to finish. I think this should be the next (and more useful) version of "Oh the Places You'll Go"

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Hilarious! This would be a great college graduation gift.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I'm not the target audience for this. I am an almost-curmudgeon who has learned many of these tips already. I did like some of the quick hints on writing and editing, though. I'm not the target audience for this. I am an almost-curmudgeon who has learned many of these tips already. I did like some of the quick hints on writing and editing, though.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Plenty of good advice but written for folks much younger than this reviewer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Major Doug

    Listened to this book: he is definitely a curmudgeon, and so am l. Philosophical rants of a grammatical precise, grumpy old man. I like him.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ramblin' Man

    This book has inspired me to list a couple of my own subtle curmudgeon complaints...enjoy Let's start here: Complaint #1: Sockless men- Grown men that wear no socks with formalwear and suits are pretentious scum that think no socks gives the appearance of carefree self importance; all-of-a-sudden they are too important for socks?? They are just in too much of a rush to wear those pieces of prole cotton on their superior sweaty disgusting feet??? They would rather have their disgusting sweaty feet This book has inspired me to list a couple of my own subtle curmudgeon complaints...enjoy Let's start here: Complaint #1: Sockless men- Grown men that wear no socks with formalwear and suits are pretentious scum that think no socks gives the appearance of carefree self importance; all-of-a-sudden they are too important for socks?? They are just in too much of a rush to wear those pieces of prole cotton on their superior sweaty disgusting feet??? They would rather have their disgusting sweaty feet seen and smelled by all of us worthless beings???? As usual, these sockless men should be rounded up and shot in public; which upon socks should be put on their dead rotting corpse feet immediately. They should then be kicked into the nearest ditch. At this point, rather than filling the ditch with dirt, the ditch would be filled with moldy smelly socks ensuring they would spend an eternity with the socks they have grown to hate and avoid their whole adult life. This would send a subtle, but symbolic message, to a generation that forgets to put socks on with their oxfords in the morning. Grow up! Get a job! Act like an adult and for chrissake, put some goddamn socks on! My grandfather wore socks while fighting the Nazis in some shithole in Germany during WW2, you can wear socks for a few hours a day when you sip your starbucks latte as you travel to your job at a worthless bankrupt "start up company" or "IT company" that makes worthless bankrupt apps/widgets to a worthless bankrupt culture...You are not Steve Jobs, you update spreadsheets for a living... Get off your high horse and practice some self awareness! Complaint#2 - Loss of manners/Deterioration of Modern communication- No one says "thank you, please, you are welcome" anymore...Everyone yells, huffs and puffs in public as if you are their own personal audience being entertained by their obnoxious public behavior and infantile language. When these freaks do talk to you (after they are balls deep in their celluar phone updating their Facebook post about how they got herpes from their last Tinder date) they muffle and slither words out of their herpe-infected mouths incoherently with such genius grammar gems as "dude" or "like". Truly, Hemingway's work is done here!!! A dog has a better command of the modern language and manners than your average modern person on the street. Word of advice, get the dick out of your mouth and start using manners/language above that of a retarded 4th grader.... you sockless asshole... YOU ARE WELCOME! OK, now onto the book...sorry about that...Needed to get that out of my system... Bullseye! Spot on! Hits the Mark! All words to describe this lighthearted/funny, novelty book that is also frighteningly accurate of our lax self indulgent times. A must read for the entitled brats known as the "Millennials" and also a must read for "Boomers"/hippies (the originators of "me,me" culture and entitlement that was passed onto their spoiled Millennial children). The book also has some great tips on writing. These tips are things I have thought about myself and makes me realize I am not alone in ways to improve my writing. (clearly I am not improving in this review; see the mess above). Get in touch with your inner curmudgeon and take a gander at this book (see great and funny quotes below for a taste)! It is a short read; it took me two days to finish. Curmudgeonly quotes and tips: "I blame this misbegotten use of first names on the baby boomers. Frightened of being grown-ups since they were in college, they have shied away from anything that reminds them they're not kids anymore. But we're not talking about your social interactions with random aging boomers. We're talking about your professional interactions with highly successful older people whose good opinions you would like to acquire. By and large, highly successful people are quite aware that they are grown-ups. So cater to them: Call them by their last names until invited to do otherwise."p20 "What about earrings on males? Male curmudgeons think that men aren't supposed to be adorned (I'm not sure what female curmudgeons think). So no earrings guys. Keep the watches utilitarian. Understated cuff links, if any. No rings except wedding bands. Nothing that sparkles."p31 "The perfect solution to the He or She problem....I just used 'he' in the preceding paragraph instead of he or she and I will continue to do so throughout the rest of the book. Here's why: The feminist revolution has tied writers into knots when it comes to the third-person singular pronoun. Using the masculine pronoun as the default has been proscribed. Some male writers get around this problem by defaulting to the feminine singular pronoun, which I think is icky. Using the gender-neutral 'they' and 'them' as substitutes for the singular pronoun is becoming common, and I can accept this jury-rigged solution for spoken English, but I hate to use it for written text. For a quarter of a century now, I have been promoting this solution: Unless there is an obvious reason not to , use the gender of the author or, in a co-written text, the gender of the principal author. It's the perfect solution. Whether we're talking about books, articles, office memos, or emails, just about as many women as men are writing them these days. If we all adopt my solution, there will be no gender pronoun imbalance in the sum total of English text. And all of us will be freed from the clunkiness of he or she, not to mention the barbarity of s/he. What's not to like?"p37-38 "Don't tell me about the storms at sera. Just tell me when the ship's coming in"p42 "Having done menial work in the past probably keeps you from feeling that some kinds of tasks are beneath you."p43 "Curmudgeons think that the twenty-somethings' good opinion of themselves is especially inflated among graduates of elite colleges. Here's what the CEO of a large corporation said to me when the topic came up: "We don't even recruit at Harvard or Princeton anymore. We want kids from places like Southeastern Oklahoma State who have worked hard all their lives and share our values. So be advised that curmudgeons are hypersensitive to any vibe that you give off when you're told to go pick up something in the mailroom. You don't have to say anything, or even roll your eyes. The slightest of sighs will lodge in their memory like their first kiss, only in a bad way"p44 **"The sense of entitlement that many curmudgeons think your generation displays is part of a broader problem that I will call the It's All About Me Syndrome. Let me begin by saying ephatically that the baby boomers are to blame. We started it fifty years ago, as we grew to adulthood in the 1960s convinced that we were the center of the universe and infinitely wiser than people over thirty. But for you as for us boomers, it is self-absorption: 'Everything that happens is to be assessed first in terms of how I react to it and how it affects me. In the half century since the first boomers came of age, demographic and economic trends have fed the problem. More young adults now have grown up as the only child in the family, never having had to share their parents' attention and get along with siblings. Increasing affluence has meant that adolescents with siblings often reach college without ever having shared a bedroom with another person, maybe not even a bathroom. The isolating effects of the IT revolution may contribute to the It's All About Me Syndrome- we spend more of our time in front of a screen and less with people. The strangers we encounter on the web are abstractions, not a physical presence- we are interfacing with them, not interacting."p45 "It's all about me" is a form of solipsism. Even though the boomers started it, it's time for your generation to end it. Practice continual situational awareness, react according to how that situation is affecting others around you, and fight the temptation to think first about how things affect you. While you're at it, take your situational awareness a step further and practice humility in the sense that C.S. Lewis meant it in his aphorism: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking of yourself less."p50 "Here's the secret you should remember whenever you hear someone lamenting how tough it is to get ahead in the postindustrial global economy: Few people work nearly as hard as they could. The few who do have it made"p52 "More important: Unless you're in the hard sciences, the process of writing is your most valuable single tool for developing better ideas. The process of writing is the dominant source of intellectual creativity."p55 "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter," Mark Twain wrote. "It's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." He we right."p56 Ernest Hemingway had a companion observation about writing: "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector."p73 "That's why the American founders systematically studied every historical example of a republic, so their constitution could deal with forces that had destroyed past republics."p83 "Nor does he have the option of saying that difference exist but that he will not judge them. To notice a difference is to have an opinion about it- unless one refuses to think. And that is my ultimate objection to nonjudgmentalism. We can refuse to voice our judgements, but we cannot keep from having them unless we refuse to think about what is before our eyes."p109

  22. 4 out of 5

    Muriel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Charles Murray has written controversial books and I do not always agree with them, but I respect his candor, efforts and thoughts in this book Curmudgeon's Guide. I agree with him -- many adults (academia, workplaces) abdicate their responsibilities for giving feedback -- in the warm and fuzzy no-judging wave trying to fit in, and to avoid looking 'old'. Unfortunately these adults only withhold explicitly feedback, they cannot help forming judgments in their heads/hearts. Too bad that the young Charles Murray has written controversial books and I do not always agree with them, but I respect his candor, efforts and thoughts in this book Curmudgeon's Guide. I agree with him -- many adults (academia, workplaces) abdicate their responsibilities for giving feedback -- in the warm and fuzzy no-judging wave trying to fit in, and to avoid looking 'old'. Unfortunately these adults only withhold explicitly feedback, they cannot help forming judgments in their heads/hearts. Too bad that the younger generation naively equate the lack of reprimand as an approval -- and it helps to learn the unspoken rules, what the other side was thinking, by reading this book. The parts about right behavior is worth re-reading - just because everyone in your peer group is doing it, does not mean it is the right behavior (by the curmudgeon). I found myself ashamed and guilty of offences (not recognizing that I may have blocked a pathway when congregating in a public place, not rising naturally when someone walks in, merely being polite rather than genuinely warm etc). I need a more systematic training in right behavior, not the specimen from popular culture (these are perhaps negatively selected for drama!) The lack of dressing code is one such depressing change - I need a guide to know it's appropriate. Murray shares one embarrassing story from his youthful days in his book. The no-judging free-wheeling casual dressing world actually is full of invisible boundaries that I didn't even know that I crossed, how sad. The parts about growing resilience is also important, and Murray's idea of serving in the military or peace coup is practical. I just hope that I got an opportunity to practice these earlier in my life. It is not to romanticize the military, but this book points out the value of military in training minds and character to be resilient. Clear writing is an important part, but now I struggled with the audiobook format. I need to see words visually: I can easily get the difference by looking at “discreet/discrete”. But listening to 'discrete ending with e-e-t versus ending with e-t-e' would take me much longer to put together the two visual forms, and only then I can recognize their meanings and differences. ( This is the same reason that I struggle with audiobook full of "...two-thousand-three-hundred-and-forty-one, which is higher than two-thousand-and-thirty-seven dollar", I find it much easier to get the difference by glancing at "...2,341 which is higher than 2,037..." ok I follow Tukey's way of processing information, rather than Feynman's ...)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

    6.5/10 Might have been more useful for me a decade ago. Still good and very worth reading if you're just graduating college, especially if you haven't experienced hardship. Targeted at millennials by a rare boomer who places just enough but not overmuch blame squarely on his generation (as we millennials are often wont to do), I think this book might miss the target for zoomers - better for them to start with Caldwell's Age of Entitlement and Strauss and Rowe's Generations. The book is consciously 6.5/10 Might have been more useful for me a decade ago. Still good and very worth reading if you're just graduating college, especially if you haven't experienced hardship. Targeted at millennials by a rare boomer who places just enough but not overmuch blame squarely on his generation (as we millennials are often wont to do), I think this book might miss the target for zoomers - better for them to start with Caldwell's Age of Entitlement and Strauss and Rowe's Generations. The book is consciously directed at driven or ambitious college graduates, with a sop to any college dropouts who aspire to 'fame and fortune'. By Murray's implicit definition this is basically entry in to the 1%: maybe not generational wealth, but technologists who will work at FAANGM and their counterparts in traditionally prestigious career fields like corporate liaring, investment banking, management consultancy, engineering (including my own, software, where Murray pleads ignorance), and medicine. There is exactly one point where Murray seems completely out of touch, especially for a social scientist, when he compares the 2010s entry-level job market favorably with the boomers'. He does not take in to account wage stagnation while many essentials have vastly outpaced general inflation, while trinkets have dropped precipitously in cost, placing a smartphone in the hand and big screen in the Section 8 of every welfare mooch. This grating error is the only one that stuck out at me or entered my memory from this short booklet.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ed Burke

    Excellent book, and true to it's title; this is a work that I enjoyed much today, but may have profited from more in my early twenties. Light in tone, but serious in content, it consists of advice in living, writing, and working in the adult world as relayed by Mr. Murray to incoming interns at the American Enterprise Institute in pamphlet, and then fleshed out into this slim (but intellectually weighty) volume. Much presented here is advice I'd like to convey to my own interns, but in the curre Excellent book, and true to it's title; this is a work that I enjoyed much today, but may have profited from more in my early twenties. Light in tone, but serious in content, it consists of advice in living, writing, and working in the adult world as relayed by Mr. Murray to incoming interns at the American Enterprise Institute in pamphlet, and then fleshed out into this slim (but intellectually weighty) volume. Much presented here is advice I'd like to convey to my own interns, but in the current climate I fear bits around the edges may be seen as tendentious - such as the advice to "take religion seriously". That said, there is a lot of sound advice here, presented in an engaging and self-deprecating tone (see the elevator encounter with Irving Kristol).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tobias Johnson

    i haven't disagreed with so many idea in one book since I read that antisemitic one by ragnar redbeard still a tonne of good advice though, my favourite idea was how you don't often know what you know until you write down what you know. he said it less confusingly than that but you get the point i haven't disagreed with so many idea in one book since I read that antisemitic one by ragnar redbeard still a tonne of good advice though, my favourite idea was how you don't often know what you know until you write down what you know. he said it less confusingly than that but you get the point

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    A great snappy little no-nonsense guide to common sense in life. I loved Murray's baby-boomer approach to the good-old-days full of smart-alec assumptions, common sense, traditions, simplicity, sensibility, and other things "kids" forget about these days. He tackled a lot of really good issues in life, laying it out for the reader with little fuss. I appreciated his tips on good writing, and I liked how Murray assumed that writing is a part of almost every job (which it is) and everyone's lives (w A great snappy little no-nonsense guide to common sense in life. I loved Murray's baby-boomer approach to the good-old-days full of smart-alec assumptions, common sense, traditions, simplicity, sensibility, and other things "kids" forget about these days. He tackled a lot of really good issues in life, laying it out for the reader with little fuss. I appreciated his tips on good writing, and I liked how Murray assumed that writing is a part of almost every job (which it is) and everyone's lives (which it is). He points out the misuse of various words, which I hadn't seen before, so that was good new material. I just wish Murray would have written something a little more in-depth on even more issues, like politics or law. I generally liked hearing his point of view, even though his over-simplified approach to religion irked me just a tad (with his ignorant agnosticism sticking out amidst the implicit science-trumps-Christianity assumptions). He should have given more specific advice there. But every person in their early twenties needs to read this. It would be a perfect gift for a college grad.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sviatoslav

    I gave it five stars, but I didn't really enjoy it. Still though, I can see that people give it unreasonably low star count. And it doesn't deserve it. Well, it is not a great masterpiece; I guess, I didn't enjoy the writing (even though I admit it's good) and, let's be honest, if people choose to read a non-fiction book in their spare time, they probably know that it's better not to curse during a job interview or something. And many will be put off by the idea of appeasing some old person pushe I gave it five stars, but I didn't really enjoy it. Still though, I can see that people give it unreasonably low star count. And it doesn't deserve it. Well, it is not a great masterpiece; I guess, I didn't enjoy the writing (even though I admit it's good) and, let's be honest, if people choose to read a non-fiction book in their spare time, they probably know that it's better not to curse during a job interview or something. And many will be put off by the idea of appeasing some old person pushed down their throat (seriously, I know it's kind of what the book is built upon, but really). And perhaps will give it one star and toss away. They shouldn't. So this is a collection of banalities, the ones that we choose to ignore or tend to forget about in a globalized world (being so smug and opinionated and locked into the ideological bubble, in which opinions we don't like are simply wrong and never count). However, it doesn't make them any less important. And the more we unsurface them, the better, even if we don't understand (yet) or do not agree, or simply refuse to listen. So, yeah, I didn't enjoy it. But neither do I feel that I have wasted any time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I was a touch surprised when Murray introduces the work with something along the lines of, "I am assuming that if you are reading this you are a 20-something, just starting out ...." which I clearly am not. So for a few moments I gave thought to packing it in. But it is a short work of just over three hours, so a trip to the gym and a bit of drive time assigned the time for me. I was glad I didn't quit, but thought all along that I should probably recommend it as very practical advice for my gra I was a touch surprised when Murray introduces the work with something along the lines of, "I am assuming that if you are reading this you are a 20-something, just starting out ...." which I clearly am not. So for a few moments I gave thought to packing it in. But it is a short work of just over three hours, so a trip to the gym and a bit of drive time assigned the time for me. I was glad I didn't quit, but thought all along that I should probably recommend it as very practical advice for my granddaughters - although only one as yet has reached her teens and another is almost there. His practical guidance for understanding the curmudgeons of your first job are definitely worth it. I really appreciated the tips/sections on writing. The list of words that can be, and often are, confusing made it worth looking up in the print version.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Evan Micheals

    It is written by the allegedly racist Charles Murray (he of the Bell Curve). What I found was a book of advice for conservative minded 20 somethings looking to begin working life. I found sensible advice that no doubt works on how to develop oneself as a person rooted in values that some might describe as old fashioned. I do not doubt the value of this work towards a seriously minded individual looking to do their best in life. I found the most useful the last two sections “On the Formulations o It is written by the allegedly racist Charles Murray (he of the Bell Curve). What I found was a book of advice for conservative minded 20 somethings looking to begin working life. I found sensible advice that no doubt works on how to develop oneself as a person rooted in values that some might describe as old fashioned. I do not doubt the value of this work towards a seriously minded individual looking to do their best in life. I found the most useful the last two sections “On the Formulations of Who You Are” and “On the Pursuit of Happiness”. I liked it well enough to plan to read “The Bell Curve” at some stage in the future. I found no racist tones in this book, just good conservative advice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    So that's what it has come to, has it? The common sense my parents taught me has now been repackaged for a different generation and relabeled as advice from a grump. Okay, I'll accept that. I'll accept that, if you, my young generation friends, will please take the time to read and put into practice the precepts of this book. Okay? Please? So that's what it has come to, has it? The common sense my parents taught me has now been repackaged for a different generation and relabeled as advice from a grump. Okay, I'll accept that. I'll accept that, if you, my young generation friends, will please take the time to read and put into practice the precepts of this book. Okay? Please?

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