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Interview: Charles Murray on The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead


What is a curmudgeon? “Well, the technical definition is a grumpy old man, and I fit that pretty well,” Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute says kiddingly in our latest interview. But curmudgeons of both sexes are people “who are inwardly somewhat grumpy about the sensibility of the world in which their new employees are coming to work and make hasty and pitiless judgments when they don't like something.”

And one thing they really don’t like, he adds, are young people entering the corporate world after graduating from elite colleges, where they’ve been taught that they were special, delicate snowflakes. To help young people negotiate the minefield that is their first corporate job, Murray recently wrote, The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life.

During our interview, he’ll discuss:

● The inspiration of the new book.

● His recent “open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University,” after the university rescinded his speaking opportunity.

● What does the average curmudgeon think about tattoos, piercings, and hair colors not found in nature?

● Now that age of the mandatory suit and tie has passed in many industries, how does a new employ navigate the complexities of contemporary office dress?

● How did young people gain such a sense of supreme entitlement?

● What's wrong with being "nonjudgmental?"

● Plus some thoughts on Murray’s earlier books, such as Apollo and Coming Apart.

And much more. Click here to listen:

(17 minutes, 31 seconds long; 16 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.