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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

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,384 ratings  ·  211 reviews
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
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2014)
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 ·  1,384 ratings  ·  211 reviews

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May 05, 2014 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 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
Patrick Book
Jul 27, 2015 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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My conclusion after read this is that I am a curmudgeon. I feel validated.
Bon Tom
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: docu, normal-sized
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.
Jonathan Rolfe
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Charlie Miller
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Bryan Summers
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very wise book. I wish I'd had it in my early twenties.
Oct 26, 2014 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
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Alt right adjacent moody uncle gives half decent life and writing advice, whilst bemoaning boomers and their millenial grandkids
John of Canada
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Tom Stamper
Apr 05, 2014 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 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
Susan Walker
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2014 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 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"
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Hilarious! This would be a great college graduation gift.
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.
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Plenty of good advice but written for folks much younger than this reviewer.
Major Doug
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 04, 2016 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
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ed Burke
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Tobias Johnson
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2014 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 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
May 20, 2016 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
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it

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?

Jun 21, 2015 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
Tiana Luo
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just finished the life-changing book "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead," by Charles Murray. This was sent to me by Mr. Bob Luddy of CaptiveAire. It's a little dated to be sure, and some examples don't age well, but practical wisdom lasts a long time. I'm so glad I did get around to reading it now, because by the time I graduate college, some of this won't apply.

Murray stresses the need to get out of your comfort zone and embrace alien cultures and a simple lifestyle. He says it's importan
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Charles Alan Murray is an American libertarian conservative political scientist, author, and columnist. His book Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (1984), which discussed the American welfare system, was widely read and discussed, and influenced subsequent government policy. He became well-known for his controversial book The Bell Curve (1994), written with Richard Herrnstein, in whi ...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.” 2 likes
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