National Book Award, Nonfiction, 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. Includes bonus content read by the author.
©2013 George Packer (P)2013 Macmillan Audio
The story of how America has become unwound since 1960 was one that helped to open my eyes and focus my thoughts about how our country has changed in my lifetime.
This book represents many hours that I'll never get back. The individual stories that make up this book are well written but the premise of the book, the unwinding of America, is never proven. The author tries to take the individual stories of a dozen or so people and make the case that America is declining. There are few facts and no conclusions offered. The book is subjective and fails to take into account the positive things that have occurred in America in the last 15 years. I kept waiting for some objective take-away to appear but it never came. I'm sorry I wasted my time with it.
Immediately listened to The Unwinding after hearing George Packer on NPR, amazing journalist and an excellent read, highly recommend for anyone interested in Learning more about why so many Americans have lost trust in government.
as noted in the title, this book is somewhat disjointed. 1 struggles to find the actual meaning behind the authors ramblings story or should I say stories. The highlight of this book is the performance. if I had to read it on a paper page or Kindle, it would have been a struggle to get through.
I would recommend other books on a similar topic well before this one.
This was not the type of book I thought I was buying and it took me a while to get used to it. It was worth that though. Excellently written. A terrific and objective perspective of how the decline of America and the crumbling of the American system is affecting average Americans.
As a collection of stories about the lives of ordinary people, it paints a pretty vivid picture of how we have arrived at this point in time. One wonders how we can undo the grim momentum of greed and ignorance. Maybe books like this can help more Americans understand our current predicament.
audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.
Great presentation of the last few decades and the politics and economic issues Americans face.
America is on the decline, thus the unwinding. It's systematic and not caused by one party or person. But it is happening. I was very impressed with the many and diverse people the author uses to make his point. Every class and race is represented. We are all affected.
I didn't feel that it was biased, which I appreciate. Very impressive style of writing!
An author to watch!
I would enthusiastically recommend this book to friends (and enemies, too). Although I lived through all the decades described in the book, I only experienced my little corner of history. This book opened my eyes to the big picture. Not only that, in doing so, it helped me understand on a much more organic basis the connections between historical events and their effects on people outside (and inside) my community. In short, it educated me, in a most engrossing way, about how to think critically and the absolute importance of integrity in our social and political dealings. Unfortunately, that integrity is sorely lacking in contemporary life.
The structure. The book embodies the concept of unwinding threads from a tapestry.
I wouldn't think of the people described in the book as "characters" as they actually live/lived. They all are fascinating. However, because of similarities in background, temperament, and geography, I was drawn most strongly to Dean Price.
The book has a cumulative effect. As it unwinds its stories, you are drawn in every more deeply. By the end of the book, that effect packs a wallop.
One of the best books I have ever read.
There were parts of this book I really liked, but it did get slow in some areas. There is also this wierd thing done between chapters where headlines are used. This make look interesting in print form, but for me it did not transfer to this format well.
This book unfolds the last four decades in the United States using stories of people who lived it. They include the rich, the poor, the obscure, the famous, and the stories weave through the America experience in a way that explains where we've been and what has happened. Well-read.
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