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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


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

ISBN13: 9780804141444
ISBN10: 0804141444
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  He first came to national attention in 1984 with his book Losing Ground.  His subsequent books include In Pursuit, The Bell Curve (with Richard J. Herrnstein), What it Means to Be a Libertarian, Human Accomplishment, In Our Hands, Real Education, and the national bestseller Coming Apart.  He received a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT.  He lives with his wife in Burkittsville, Maryland.



About the Author

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 grouch and taskmaster. Why the curmudgeon? The fact is, most older, more senior people over us in the workplace are closet curmudgeons. In today's politically correct world, they may hide their displeasure over your misuse of grammar, or your overly familiar use of their first name without an express invitation. But don't be fooled by their pleasant demeanor. Underneath, they are judging and evaluating your every move and utterance. And in most cases, if you want to advance in your career, it is their approval that you need to win. 

In the course of this pithy and powerful book, Murray tells us the proper etiquette for email, how to stop using such overused and fuzzy phrases as "reaching out" and "sharing", his thoughts on piercings and tattoos and proper dress, the importance of rigor in language and good writing, why being judgmental is good, and other curmudgeonly pieces of wisdom and advice. He suggests how to stand out at work (work long hours when you are young and unencumbered by family and other obligations), when to use strong language and when to avoid it, and offers a bare-bones usage primer on how to avoid confusing words like "advice" and "advise," which look or sound similar, but have distinct meanings.


Written with both verve and reserve, and drawing on the core values that have historically made good manners the best lubricant to social and professional advancement, The Curmudgeon's Guide is an invaluable resource for anyone hoping to land the job of their dreams, or get ahead in their career of choice.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Ryan DeJonghe, August 15, 2014 (view all comments by Ryan DeJonghe)
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 modern, and has greater, well-researched details about “getting ahead”.

Murray’s advice is not all humdrum. He does include some excellent resources for further reading, as well as insight into timeless clichés that still have valued meaning. It never hurts anyone to be polite, without sucking up, and to dress well. Some of this may be taught more by mentoring or coaching, versus this book.

Murray’s grammar section takes up a third of his book; it barely scratches the surface, and even what it does contain sounds stiff. Look at Steven Pinker’s recent article in THE GUARDIAN that discusses why it is okay to break certain grammar rules (all of the “rules” he addresses are found in this CURMUDGEON’S GUIDE). (I will be reviewing Pinker’s upcoming book THE SENSE OF STYLE when it comes out next month.)

Because much of Murray’s presentation focuses on grammar, I’d be remiss not to mention June Casagrande’s GRAMMAR SNOBS ARE GREAT BIG MEANIES, which is a fun way to learn grammar and syntax rules. Casagrande also has a book out called THE BEST PUNCTUATION BOOK, PERIOD (also published under a Crown imprint) that is better than that curmudgeonly and mean spirited book EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES (whose author wishes lightning strikes and burial upon users of poor punctuation).

I don’t believe Murray to truly be a curmudgeon. I believe he has a good heart and wants to help younger employees succeed. His effort at sounding “mean” in this book comes across as flawed. And again, the book is tiny (don’t give this as a gift thinking graduates will read this; get them something they’ll actually read): the book is about as tall as a dollar bill, a few inches wide, and under an inch in thickness. Besides talking about no piercings in the workplace, getting married, and finding religion, there’s not much content for your money.

Thanks to Crown and Blogging for Books for sending this book for me to review.

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Product Details

Murray, Charles
Crown Business
Murray, Charles
Publication Date:
7.41 x 5.21 x 0.73 in 0.46 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » General
Business » Careers
Business » Personal Skills
History and Social Science » US History » General

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