An Inner History of the New America
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The 2013 National Book Award Winner
A New York Times Bestseller
Selected by New York Times’ critic Dwight Garner as a Favorite Book of 2013
One of Amazon's Best Books of 2013
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Washington Post Best Political Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
A New Republic Best Book of 2013
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
A riveting examination of a nation in crisis, from one of the finest political journalists of our generation
American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward. In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives.
The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet’s significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these intimate stories with biographical sketches of the era’s leading public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents.
The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Liked it a lot
The good parts (David Price, Jeff Connaughton, Tampa, etc.) are very good, the other (Oprah, Colin Powell) less so, probably due to reliance on indirect sources. Packer succeeds in painting a riveting tapestry of America in decline. The question is though, how many Pygmies can take hunks out this particular elephant until a tipping point is reached and it collapses? Of course that's not knowable, but I read to the end, hoping the Pygmies would stop hacking.
This will be the book people turn to in 50 years to get an idea of what our times were like. A great synthesis of the early 21st century.
A great for understanding how the last 30 years fundamentally changed this country and our failure to come to grips with that change. Although it reads like a novel, it is real; about real people and their struggles. I found it hard to put down. I want to know how the people are doing. I hope well. Read it and you will begin to understand where we are as a people and a country.