The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America Audiobook | George Packer | Audible.com
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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America | [George Packer]

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

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 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Janet Pittman Henley Elizabethton, TN United States 05-27-13
    Janet Pittman Henley Elizabethton, TN United States 05-27-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can't understand the low ratings!"

    I am not a writer of reviews, but I could not let the low ratings for this book stand unopposed! In "The Unwinding," George Packer follows the lives of a variety of people, as a way to clarify wildly opposing viewpoints about what has happened in American society this last century. Here is history told as vividly as the best fiction, and it won my sympathy for people I would be unlikely to meet. A few high-profile people (like Oprah) come into the narrative. But some of the most revealing chapters cover U.S. citizens who seek meaning and success, work hard, "do everything right," and rarely make the headlines. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone, with any political belief, who is trying to make sense of what it means to live in the U.S.A.!

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 09-21-13
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 09-21-13 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very well written and even a little scary."

    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!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chad Oskaloosa, IA, United States 07-15-13
    Chad Oskaloosa, IA, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Thought Provoking"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 04-16-14
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 04-16-14 Member Since 2012

    I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nicely woven threads of contemporary history"

    I really like the way Packer has attempted to make his points about how America has unwound. He has chosen to pick out of number of personalities and historical figures that we know and other folks we don't and wind them around each other in a cohesive contemporary history tale.

    If you like history, you will like this book. However, if you are a memoir fan you will not because he skims the surface of people and there are personalities you may not like or agree with. Also, if you are fiction reader lover an only tolerate history you should pass.

    I think that Robert Fass did a nice job narrating, his voice is pleasant enough. I think this book could have benefited from editing; maybe as much as 1/3 could be lopped off. With all that said, I do recommend this book to the history buff and for both liberals and conservatives.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Combermere, Ontario, Canada 09-02-13
    Gary Combermere, Ontario, Canada 09-02-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing reportage that approaches high art"
    Any additional comments?

    Nostalgia, reality, mean streets ... the cumulative sweep and power of this book knocked me out. Dozens of interwoven characters, themes, as challenging as the best of mysteries. How did we wind up in a landscape of fast food and bad vibes? The clues are all here.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EE Davis NYC 12-03-13
    EE Davis NYC 12-03-13 Member Since 2012

    EE

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    "Compelling and enlightening"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The structure. The book embodies the concept of unwinding threads from a tapestry.


    Which character – as performed by Robert Fass – was your favorite?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I have ever read.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank HOUSTON, TX, United States 10-25-13
    Frank HOUSTON, TX, United States 10-25-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Much better than I expected"

    I am not sure there is another book that better captures the feeling of what the changes in America have meant to the Americans who lived through them.

    You have to read this book if you care about what is happening to our country.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 09-29-13
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 09-29-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unexpectedly Good"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-26-13
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-26-13

    Letting the rest of the world go by

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Many different well told stories, but not sure why"

    I did like the book enough to listen to it all. There are about 20 people whose stories are told. Most of the people stories are from non-famous people with exceptions such as Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey and Newt Gingrich.

    Each person's story was interesting and the author tells them very nicely. I'm not sure how in total they tell the story about the unwinding of America. I usually read science books and the point behind those stories are explicit and I understand why those books are written and there is nothing left to the imagination for me to understand. This book was different.

    I can understand how the financial disaster affected lives and the author tells those stories marvelously. But he also tells other stories. For example, I'm not sure why he was so apologetic for Colin Powell's speech at the UN for recommending war with Iraq.

    Overall, if your like me and need to be told why the things you are reading are important in totality, this book might not be as good to you as it is to others.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela L. Davis Lancaster, CA USA 08-02-13
    Angela L. Davis Lancaster, CA USA 08-02-13

    ABookAngel

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good but..."

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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