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The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  889 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
In the bestselling tradition of? Eats, Shoot and Leaves , a gently curmudgeonly but invaluable guide to the dos and don'ts of the workplace. Bestselling social historian Charles Murray has written a delightfully fussy -- and entertaining -- book on the hidden rules of the road in the workplace, and in life, from the standpoint of an admonishing, but encouraging, workplace ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published August 4th 2014 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2014)
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May 05, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
Feb 25, 2015 Matthew rated it did not like it

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
Bryan Summers
A very wise book. I wish I'd had it in my early twenties.
Patrick Book
Jul 27, 2015 Patrick Book rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015
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
Jul 15, 2014 Marta rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My conclusion after read this is that I am a curmudgeon. I feel validated.
Oct 26, 2014 Mark rated it did not like it
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
Ryan Richetto
Feb 27, 2017 Ryan Richetto rated it really liked it
Strait talk from Charles Murray. He encourages men like me to get married, but that would require talking to girls.
Ryan Dejonghe
Aug 15, 2014 Ryan Dejonghe rated it it was ok
This book feels a bit short and outdated. A 20-year-old (target audience) following Charles Murray’s advice would stand out, but not necessarily in a good way. They’d appear disconnected and unimaginative. They may be polite, well-dressed, and properly spoken, but those are the people that often fly under the radar. For a better book about getting ahead, read WHO GETS PROMOTED, WHO DOESN’T, AND WHY by Donald Asher. It is also published by Crown (under the 10 Speed imprint), but feels much more m ...more
Tom Stamper
Apr 05, 2014 Tom Stamper rated it really liked it
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
Dec 04, 2014 Juliet rated it did not like it
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
Mar 30, 2014 Kris rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2014 Jarrett rated it really liked it
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.
May 13, 2014 Danielle rated it it was amazing
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"
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.
Jul 08, 2014 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Hilarious! This would be a great college graduation gift.
Ismael Schonhorst
Dec 06, 2015 Ismael Schonhorst rated it it was amazing
Life changing book. No less.
Feb 10, 2016 Eric rated it liked it
Plenty of good advice but written for folks much younger than this reviewer.
Nov 04, 2016 Jonathon rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2015 Toe rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Murray is an agnostic, libertarian, husband, father, and professional social scientist writing for a general audience. He gave life lessons to his own children and wrote them into a collection of tips for interns at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank where he worked. Those tips became this book. The book offers an approach to life from a successful man from an earlier time. The approach is worth considering. The target audience is young adults between about 16 and 30. The message is ...more
Mar 12, 2017 Jim rated it really liked it
"I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde

Mr. Murray (Do not call him "Charlie" or "Chuck") has found himself in the national spotlight lately because he was not allowed to speak at Middlebury College. So, naturally, I felt compelled to read one of his books. This short volume was the only one available at the library, but it looked intriguing.

Based on "Curmudgeon's Guide" it is hard for me to understand why people get so agitated by him. He is a self described curmudgeon with re
Corey Colyer
Mar 18, 2017 Corey Colyer rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for these pithy advice books. I picked this one up because I'm intrigued by Charles Murray. Considered the anti-christ by many in my field (see The Bell Curve; and I share the criticisms of that book and it's conclusions), I've heard him speak a few times and found him to be perceptive, witty, and insightful.

The book itself is generic life advice that I agree with. I'm no longer in the target demographic and suspect I'd ignore this advice if I was (not based on its substance, but ba
A book divided in four parts.

"On the Presentation of Self in the Workplace" (***): many good points, but, in some others, Murray just sounds like a grumpy nostalgic man out of touch with the contemporary workplace realities. A lot of people seem to judge negatively or 'sarcastically' the entire book because of this part, but it's also the only actually grumpy and clearly conservative one.
"On Thinking and Writing Well" (***): a more technical, dry part. Murray tried to put together a very short
Mar 05, 2017 Becky rated it really liked it
Tips on writing, and finding your way in the workplace, and life as you start out of college. In today's crazy polarizing world, it was wonderful to read such sound thinking. I may not agreed with all of Murray's opinions (religion, marriage, gay marriage, etc.) but overall to see somebody who embraces science and philosophy and the arts is like a breath of fresh air. I borrowed the book, but immediately bought a copy on Kindle because of the great tips on writing.
Feb 11, 2015 Winter rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books I grabbed specifically because I'm working on developing the habit of reading more books that are outside my usual wheelhouse of genre fiction to expose myself to a broader range of ideas to stimulate my mind more. Thus far, this approach has been quite successful at its intended purpose, this book being a good example of something that I am really glad I picked up.

This book wasn't written for me, but it was the right book for me to read right now to give me some much
I aspire to curmudgeonhood.

Perhaps one day, I tell myself, I will be a card-carrying curmudgeon.

Yet I know, deep down, curmudgeons do not come into being as they begin drawing Social Security. A power that has long dwelt within them, perhaps latent, perhaps bursting forth in periodic furious expulsions of bile, at last takes its place within the list of Established Personality Traits. One cannot fake curmudgeonhood. I must begin...

To that end, I have begun my research in Charles Murray's short g
A. Dalcourt
Jul 27, 2016 A. Dalcourt rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'll admit I went into this read with a closed mind. I was going through a particular rough bought at work and I was deciding on a few factors (is it me? is it them? maybe both? how can I get this to work?) A friend of mine advised this book as a sorted of 'strategy guide' to management and upper-management.

I find a lot of the information outdated - i'm working for people 10-20 years my senior and if I apply the advice on Sir, Mister, Madame, I create verbal distance or make my seniors feel too
Joe Donatelli
Jun 01, 2014 Joe Donatelli rated it really liked it
The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life is a wonderful primer on how to transition from college life to the adult world of work and responsibility. A quick read, the book started out as a series of tips for interns and new hires on the American Enterprise Institute intranet. Lucky for us, author Charles’s Murray’s wisdom didn’t stay there.

From the intro:

"Technically, a curmudgeon is an ill-tempered old man.
Billie Pritchett
Jul 07, 2014 Billie Pritchett rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Some of Charles Murray's advice in The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead is rather good and sensible. He writes of how, for example, in a workplace, even though it is a bit old-fashioned, people would find it intriguing if you referred to them as Mr. and Mrs. and their surname and it would reflect positively upon you. But Murray also offers other sundry advice, like outdated language tips, my last favorite of his being "Don't use 'impact' as a verb." If we take that advice seriously, we ought ...more
The Book Maven
Jun 03, 2014 The Book Maven rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
In the many many years that I've been reading, I've seen a lot: everything from little children murdered in American Psycho, to brother and sister getting it on in Flowers in the Attic, to even the resolution of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce in Bleak House. Through all of the thousands of pages I've read, this is the first time I encountered anything like this work, in which advice about appropriate colors of hair dye share their housing with advice on proper grammar and vocabulary usage AND ruminations ...more
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“All the other virtues, and the living of a virtuous life, depend on them. If you took an introductory philosophy course in college, they were probably translated from the Greek as courage, justice, temperance, and prudence.” 1 likes
“Your career is likely to bear more resemblance to that of a writer than that of an athlete or painter. You should look ahead to your forties as the time when you will be at your peak of creativity, technical proficiency, and energy, and also have enough phronesis to realize your potential. The more your field depends on good judgment that comes only from experience, the longer you can expect to sustain a high level of performance into your fifties and sixties. To put it another way: Even if you wait as late as thirty to start accumulating the fifty thousand chunks of expertise, you will still have completed that apprenticeship when you approach the peak of your other powers in your forties. So push out your time horizon and don’t get frustrated if what you hoped would be a meteoric rise proves to be more measured. You’re not failing; you’re getting better at your craft and can reasonably aspire to master it one day. In the meantime, consult Wikipedia to check on the lives of those who became conspicuously successful at a young age. Ted Sorenson? After JFK was assassinated, he had a financially successful career as an attorney and remained a participant in politics, but, like sports heroes, rock stars, and pure mathematicians, he had to turn forty knowing that his most exciting professional years were behind him. How sad. And how happy you should be that you aren’t going to be a famous presidential aide at thirty-two.” 1 likes
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