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The Unwinding [Kindle Edition]

George Packer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.56
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Book Description

America is in crisis. In the space of a generation, it has become more than ever a country of winners and losers, as industries have failed, institutions have disappeared and the country's focus has shifted to idolise celebrity and wealth.

George Packer narrates the story of America over the past three decades, bringing to the task his empathy with people facing difficult challenges, his sharp eye for detail and a gift for weaving together engaging narratives.

The Unwinding moves deftly back and forth through the lives of its people, 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 industrial Midwest attempting to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a political careerist in Washington; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire. Their stories are interspersed with biographical sketches of the era's leading public figures, from Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs, to create a rich, wise and very human portrait of the USA in these hard times.

The Unwinding portrays a superpower coming apart at the seams, its elites and institutions no longer working, leaving ordinary people to improvise their own schemes for salvation.

George Packer is also the author of The Assassin's Gate, which was named one of the ten best books of 2005 by the New York Times and won the Helen Bernstein Book Award.

'A tour de force . . . A fascinating journey through an America that has largely remained hidden from view. There are echoes of Don DeLillo's Underworld in the scope of Packer's vision and his deft eye for language and detail.' Sunday Business Post


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Review

Packer's is an American voice of exceptional clarity and humanity in a tradition of reportage that renders the quotidian extraordinary. When our descendants survey the ruins of this modern imperium and sift its cultural detritus, American voices like this will be the tiny treasures that endure. (David Goldblatt Independent 2013-06-15)

The historic scope of Packer's book - from the late-Seventies economic downturn right up to the recent Occupy Wall Street protests - is as impressive as its immense ambition and its cumulative narrative power ... A Great American Novel in the guise of a Great Nonfiction Epic, The Unwinding asks us .... that daunting, unsettling question: do we truly like the world we have made for ourselves? (The Times)

Epic, sad and unsettling history of the last four decades in the US ... It is a testament to Packer's talents that The Unwinding is powerful, rather than off-puttingly earnest or just depressing, and that it lingers so long after reading. The sense of loneliness - of isolated souls, failed by their institutions, pummelled by the forces of big money - seems to seep under your skin, and to stay there. (Oliver Burkeman Guardian)

Packer is among the best non-fiction writers in America ... In its sensibility, The Unwinding is closer to a novel than a work of fiction. It is all the more powerful for it. (Edward Luce The Financial Times 2013-06-16)

Book Description

The Unwinding is a remarkable, moving book on the USA in crisis by George Packer, the country's finest political writer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1234 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374534608
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; Main edition (10 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4GT040
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,004 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 21 Sept. 2013
By Robert
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book offers an insight into what has been happening to America over the past three decades or so that is close to genius. It is written with the descriptive style of a gifted novelist but tragically, it is not fiction. America - so like us but so, so different. The American psyche is enigmatic and seemingly, the more one knows the less one understands. Perhaps it is the country's pioneer roots and the self selecting nature of the 300 million descendants of the original immigrants who had the courage to seek a better life in a 'new world', but it is their very qualities, which made America, that now seem to be working against it. To me, those 300 million souls appear to have confused competing for a better life with competing against each other. America's physical isolation and its people's widespread lack of knowledge about the rest of the world, with their susceptibility to believing in the thoughts of others, whether a religion, an advertisement or the persuasions of an interest group, has left the nation prey to a self interested political class that is itself controlled by an even more self interested business elite. What other nation can suffer such widespread medical problems for lack of healthcare but still get angry at the suggestion of a healthcare system similar to the rest of the civilised western world? Perhaps because Americans appear reluctant to think for themselves they believe it would make them communists since they have swallowed hook, line and sinker the propaganda of the medical industry which, to preserve its privileged position, has told them universal healthcare is 'socialised medicine'. America has a painful time ahead if it is to develop successfully into an advanced 21st century state. The trouble is, the rest of the world will have an equally painful time whilst it makes that adjustment.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but unsettling 2 Aug. 2013
By Men Dhu
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliantly written and unsettling analysis of the American way of life over the past 30 years - one might say the decline of the American way of life.

Written through the eyes of half a dozen characters the 'Unwinding' really does get to the heart of the decline of a once great nation - lessons for us in the UK as well.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Meynell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
America is a country I've grown to love (or at least certainly the bits I've visited). And as Bono has said more than once (perhaps explaining why he's never forsaken his Irish roots despite his love for the US): Ireland's a great country, but America is a great idea.

But like all idealism, it often gets dislocated from reality. Patriotic fervour blinds us to the margins and the dispossessed. Which is why New Yorker staff-writer George Packer's new book is so extraordinary. The Unwinding: An Inner history of the New America is nothing short of a masterpiece. The prose is superlative: understated, humane, at times even lyrical. The subject-matter is dealt with great sensitivity and non-partisanship. There are no political sideswipes here. He is merely trying to hold up a mirror. This is more a careful diagnosis of a country that is greatly loved but for which is there is great (and justifiable) concern. For what is happening to the great American idea when such contrasting bandwagons as Occupy and the Tea Party have gained such traction? How did the Credit Crunch and the sub-prime mortgage scandal come about; what has happened to the much touted American sense of optimism? Why do the big institutions like the federal government, banks, media and the legal system all seem to be failing those who need them most?

Packer artfully manages to take the nation's temperature by means of a handful of individuals, whose stories from the last 30 years he tells through the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money is king 27 Sept. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
George Packer's overview of the United States is well conceived; by focusing on three or four people over the last three decades we see how their lives have been affected by large financial institutions. Ronald Reagan's "trickle-down" of wealth from the very rich to the poor never happened; people have to re-apply for their jobs but for less money. Others took on mortgages that they could never afford to repay (the storm at the centre of today's financial crisis). The sick cannot afford proper treatment (see Breaking Bad), and there is no national healthcare like Britain's National Health Service which is free-at-point-of-use because medical insurance companies believe their profits will be trashed. In other words, big business is running the USA's social policy and doesn't give a damn about those who fall through the cracks. The stories that Packer tells us are those of people who keep on trying to make ends meet.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving. Totally engrossing 12 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For all the literature on what ails the US, this is the most moving and engrossing I have read. There is no political or economic or cultural explanation at all, only the profiles of about two dozen Americans, some famous but mostly from normal backgrounds, which profile how their lives have changed over the last twenty to thirty years. Whilst there is no commentary or explicit opinion given by the author, the main themes jump out from the pages; inequality, pursuit of profit, decline of industry, spin, lobbying.

I anticipate this is is going to be one of the most talked about books in the years ahead ... and if not, it should be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Full of detailed human observations, compassionate, hard-hitting and non-compromising: a must read to understand modern America.
Published 6 months ago by Miguel Gonzalez
2.0 out of 5 stars I found Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" a much better...
I never finished it. I had hoped it would be an insightful look at recent American history but it was just negative. Read more
Published 7 months ago by summershoe
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to Unravel
As many others have commented whilst this book claims to be a journey describing the "unwinding" of the American dream in socio and economic terms it is very disjointed and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr Q
3.0 out of 5 stars Some fascinating components, but overall directionless
Given a strong recommendation, I was a little disappointed that the author just presents his series of personal stories, strangely interspersed with brief biogs of famous... Read more
Published 9 months ago by phil SW11
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, thought-provoking journalism
This is one of the best books that I have read in any genre over the past few years. It's strength is its sheer simplicity. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Belgo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
You must read this book!
Published 10 months ago by A. pennington
4.0 out of 5 stars Very absorbing.
A very thought provoking read. The roots, causes and reasons for the current unwinding seem well set out and established. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Sparrow
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
A remarkable book that everyone should read, but i guess it is to late, while we follow exactly the same path in Europe. Greed is like Ebola.
Published 11 months ago by willy vlyminck
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb.
Published 12 months ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, a work of real integrity from a deeply perceptive...
I had read George Packer's 'The Assassins' Gate' About the American disaster in Iraq and found it riveting and essential and extremely well written. Read more
Published 12 months ago by CharlesA
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