Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980

(New York: Basic Books, 1984.)

Summary: This classic book serves as a starting point for any serious discussion of welfare reform. Losing Ground argues that the ambitious social programs of the 1960s and 1970s actually made matters worse for its supposed beneficiaries, the poor and minorities. Charles Murray startled… More

In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government

(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.)

Summary from Publisher: “What a government must do,” Charles Murray says, “is leave people alone.” No one who reads this clear, energetic work will come away with previous perceptions unshaken. Using fascinating case studies and drawing upon advances in psychology and sociology,… More

Apollo: The Race to the Moon

(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.) (with Catherine Bly Cox)

Summary from Publisher: Here, for the first time, is the dramatic story of the Apollo space program. Murray and Cox recount how, in fewer than ten years, the men and women behind the scenes accomplished the extraordinary feat of landing a man on the moon—and changed the way we look at… More

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

(New York: The Free Press, 1994.) (with Richard J. Herrnstein)

Summary from Publisher: The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.

Does Prison Work?

(London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1997.)

Summary from Publisher: Crime is low when crime doesn’t pay, is the motto of this provocative essay by Charles Murray. He challenges the prevailing view amongst the criminal justice establishment that locking up criminals solves nothing. Like other volumes in this series, Does… More

What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation

(New York: Broadway Books, 1997.)

Summary from Publisher: Charles Murray believes that America’s founders had it right—strict limits on the power of the central government and strict protection of the individual are the keys to a genuinely free society. In What It Means to Be a Libertarian, he proposes a… More

Income Inequality and IQ

(Washington: AEI Press, 1998.)

Summary from Publisher: What causes income inequality? The usual answers are economic and sociological. Capitalism systematically generates unequal economic rewards. Social class distinctions create different opportunities in life, leading to unequal economic rewards. But personal… More

The Underclass Revisited

(Washington: AEI Press, 1999.)

Excerpt: No one talks much about the underclass anymore, and apparently for good reason. The welfare rolls are plunging. Crime has been falling for several years. The labor market is so tight that employers are searching out even the lowest-skilled workers in the inner city, offering them… More

In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State

(Washington: AEI Press, 2006.)

Summary from Publisher: America’s population is wealthier than any in history. Every year, the American government redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirement, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without… More

The Happiness of the People

(Washington: AEI Press, 2009.)

Summary from Publisher: The political culture created by the Constitution has made Americans a people uniquely optimistic, lacking in class envy, and confident that that they are in charge of their own lives. Today, the United States is moving toward the European model of extensive… More

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010

(New York: Crown Forum, 2012.)

Summary from Publisher: In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.… More

American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History

(Washington: AEI Press, 2013.)

Summary from Publisher: The phrase “American exceptionalism” is used in many ways and for many purposes, but its original meaning involved a statement of fact: for the first century after the Constitution went into effect, European observers and Americans alike saw the United States… More

By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission

(New York: Crown Forum, 2015.)

Summary from the Publisher: American freedom is being gutted. Whether we are trying to run a business, practice a vocation, raise our families, cooperate with our neighbors, or follow our religious beliefs, we run afoul of the government—not because we are doing anything wrong but… More