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The Unwinding

The Unwinding [Kindle Edition]

George Packer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product Description


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

A remarkable, moving book on the USA in crisis by the country's finest political writer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 769 KB
  • Print Length: 446 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571251285
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction (10 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4GT040
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,836 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 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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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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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24 of 27 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book. 3 July 2013
This is the best book about the USA that I have read in the last ten years. It is as moving and readable as good fiction, and captures the human, moral costs of radical free-market solutions (and the corruption of politics by the financial industry) better than any polemic ever could. He tells the story of the USA over the past 30 years through the individual stories of a diverse cast of characters, ranging from a poor black factory worker to a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Beltway operator and lobbyist. In lesser hands this could be a bore, but I found Packer's book utterly compelling. He intercuts the narrative with brilliant satirical portraits of the celebrities of the age, the people we're expected to envy and admire.

It is also a book about the future in Britain. Be warned.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money is king 27 Sep 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A “game changer”! 1 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Explains the big picture behind the political, economic and social unravelling of western societies through descriptions of the life experiences of a handful of individuals. A fantastic book and a “game changer” that everyone should read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unwinding 21 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
For someone who has limited knowledge of America and politics, George Packers book was both engrossing and stimulating to me. If you read one more book before the end of the year let it be this one. A sobering reflection on life and the impact greed has on our lives and what it does to us, from the highest to the lowest and the fallout from those policies that keep real people trapped in never ending cycles of poverty. There is hope though and you just might find it written in the lives of those featured in these pages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Dos Passos
"The Unwinding" has been compared to Dos Passos' "USA" but in my view Packer's achievement far surpasses that of Dos Passos. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Sobering
A most unique way of presentation, leaves you wondering if all our "heroes" are also flawed. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David P Gasslein
3.0 out of 5 stars No continuity.
Rather disjointed book.
Gave the impression of being a series of newspaper articles - which perhaps from which it was derived.
Published 5 months ago by Ivor Cheney
5.0 out of 5 stars an interesting read
Great insight into why America has ended up like it has, with few very rich controlling so much and the rest of the population gradually becoming disregarded by the very rich few.
Published 5 months ago by mary sargeant
3.0 out of 5 stars Decline of middle class America
Impact of unrestrained finance capitalism on most peoples lives. Futility of pretending societies do not need strong governments to ensure proper infrastructure, defence, social... Read more
Published 6 months ago by jpm
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Loved it. Heard a review of it on the radio and it lived up to my expectations! You won't be disappointed.
Published 6 months ago by Mondo9b
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This book offers an insight into what has been happening to America over the past three decades or so that is close to genius. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps stories require artifice
Starts off well, and Packer can certainly write, in that muscular, American, this-is-serious-journalism way you get from the New Yorker et al. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr Sifter
5.0 out of 5 stars American History in a very different light
As a Brit and world watcher for 70 years I learnt a great deal about recent American history and how their politics work. A bit of a slog sometimes but well worth the read.
Published 7 months ago by Maybug 76
4.0 out of 5 stars THE GREAT IDEAL
I good insight into America today. It shows that on the surface all looks rosy but when you dig deep all is not so well.
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Samuel A. Leigh
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