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The Unwinding Audiobook
The Unwinding
Written by: 
George Packer
Narrated by: 
Robert Fass
 >   > 
The Unwinding Audiobook

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

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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

4.0 (423 )
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  •  
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 04-16-14
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 04-16-14 Member Since 2016

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

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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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Pittman Henley 05-27-13
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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.!

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-27-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-27-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "AMERICAN ANGER, FEAR, AND FRUSTRATION"

    George Packer drives a stake into America’s heart in “The Unwinding”. American anger, fear, and frustration build in the minds of all—whether Republican, Democrat, Tea Partyer, or Libertarian.

    Whether an accolade of private enterprise or government, Packer offers stories of Americans that show American’ belief makes no difference because America is no longer a land of opportunity but a land of greed; not of the free but of the shackled—a risk noted by Thomas Hobbes in the “Leviathan”. The shackles come from society’s failure to protect individuals from the tyranny of special interests. One side argues that it is because of ineffective government–the other side argues it is because of too much government.

    The unwinding of the financial crises reflected in the dot-com bubble of 2000-2001 and the 2007-08 sub-prime mortgage crises unfolds in stories told by Packer in this disturbing narrative. America has become a nation of extremes with each extreme using whatever means necessary to deny success of either “tea party”, “libertarian” or “occupy wall street” followers. The consequence is a “do-nothing” congress, an ineffectual President, and a politicized Supreme Court. One is left with fear, anger, and frustration after completing Packer’s diatribe. The only consolation is in history.

    America has been in crises before–in 1776, 1789, 1865, 1929, 1941, 1951, 1967-68, 2001. Americans survived before; Americans will survive again but how angry Americans are, and how frustrating it is to watch America muddle along while Congress fails to act.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George United States 10-30-14
    George United States 10-30-14 Member Since 2013
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    "The Best Summary of the Last Decade or Two"

    This is a book that simply follows a few people through the years. Some are known, like Oprah, but most are not. It works through the political changes and the Housing Bubble, the loss of good jobs and the rise of corporate power. There are parts I skipped, but it is easy to pick up somewhere down the line. Most of it is not very pleasant, but maybe if people would think this stuff through, we would make better decisions.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry 04-14-16
    Larry 04-14-16
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    "Brilliant! "

    Everyone should listen to this book. Right AND left. Perfect description and history of the evisceration of the US middle class by the elected and non-elected powers that be in the US. Makes the solutions obvious. A brilliant, subtle, "come together" theme.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zacchaeus Nifong Tucson, AZ. 02-29-16
    Zacchaeus Nifong Tucson, AZ. 02-29-16 Member Since 2014

    Zacchaues

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    "A Patriot's Dream"

    This book starts off slow and it's a little hard to follow at first but if you stick it out, you won't be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pagesix 09-02-13
    pagesix 09-02-13
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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.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-26-13
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-26-13 Member Since 2016

    l'enfer c'est les autres

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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.

    5 of 8 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 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaime 07-22-16
    Jaime 07-22-16 Member Since 2005
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    "A must read"

    a graphical portrait of what the destruction of the middle class means for everyday people and how the cards are more and more stacked. The Gulag Archipelago of modern America

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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