For a long time, I've been pointing out that Malcolm Gladwell makes far more money lecturing at corporate events than does Charles Murray, even though Murray is enormously informed and insightful, while Gladwell is a wee bit obtuse.
But now, via Marginal Revolution, we see that Murray has an Airport Book coming out in April:
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 you need to win if you hope to get ahead.
Among the curmudgeon’s day-to-day tips for the workplace:
• Excise the word “like” from your spoken English
• Don’t suck up
• Stop “reaching out” and “sharing”
• Rid yourself of piercings, tattoos, and weird hair colors
• Make strong language count
His larger career advice includes:
• What to do if you have a bad boss
• Coming to grips with the difference between being nice and being good
• How to write when you don’t know what to say
• Being judgmental (it’s good, and you don’t have a choice anyway)
And on the great topics of life, the curmudgeon urges us to leave home no matter what, get real jobs (not internships), put ourselves in scary situations, and watch Groundhog Day repeatedly (he’ll explain).
Witty, wise, and pulling no punches, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead is an indispensable sourcebook for living an adult life.
Has the zeitgeist shifted enough for Murray to succeed on Gladwell's turf? Murray's last book Coming Apart was treated with respect by most reviewers, while his extraordinary 2003 book "Human Accomplishment" was largely ignored as punishment for The Bell Curve in 1994, so the mental atmosphere at the top may have improved enough.
It will be interesting to see if the intellectual climate has improved (e.g., Gladwell is going out of fashion — even President Obama bought David Epstein's book attacking Gladwellism: The Sports Gene) for Murray to cash in on the Airport Book market.
On the other hand, Gladwell has certainly made more money relative to his talents than Murray has, so if Charles is so smart, why isn't he rich?
Obviously, I'm both interested and not disinterested: the success or failure of Murray's The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead is relevant to the reception publishers will give to my Airport Book proposal tentatively entitled The Devil Incarnate's Guide to Being Poor and Hated. (Chapter One is: "Pick on Poor Stanley Fischer a Lot.")