The Unwinding by George Packer
An Inner History of the New America

78%

16 Critic Reviews

..."The Unwinding," is a book that manages to be both sad and uplifting, much like the turbulent times it describes.
-LA Times

Synopsis

The 2013 National Book Award Winner
A New York Times Bestseller
Selected by New York Times' critic Dwight Garner as a Favorite Book of 2013
One of Amazon's Best Books of 2013
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Washington Post Best Political Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
A New Republic Best Book of 2013
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 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.

 

About George Packer

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George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, which received numerous prizes and was named one of the ten best books of 2005 by The New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and two other works of nonfiction, The Village of Waiting and Blood of the Liberals, which won the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. His play, Betrayed, ran in Manhattan for five months in 2008 and won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. His most recent book is Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade. He lives in Brooklyn.
 
Published May 21, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 449 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jun 16 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Unwinding
All: 16 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by David Brooks on Jun 06 2013

“The Unwinding” offers vivid snapshots of people who have experienced a loss of faith...The book is supposed to have social, economic and political implications, but there is no actual sociology, economics or political analysis in it.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Anand Giridharadas on May 31 2013

“The Unwinding” is a book likely to be read and argued about for a long time. The question it leaves you with is whether decline is inevitable, or whether the seeds of the new lurk unseen amid the widening decay. I found myself wondering whether it would be read a century from now as a prescient elegy for what was...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on May 28 2013

“The Unwinding” contains many sweeping, wide-angle views of American life. Its portraits of Youngstown, Ohio; Tampa; Silicon Valley; Washington; and Wall Street are rich, complex and interlocking.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Oliver Burkeman on Jun 21 2013

...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.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sukhdev Sandhu on Jun 15 2013

Packer's book – so decent, meticulous, concerned – reads like both a shrine to and the embodiment of a form of civics that barely exists in America these days. Is lambent lamentation enough?

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Oliver Burkeman on Jun 21 2013

...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.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Sukhdev Sandhu on Jun 16 2013

Packer's book – so decent, meticulous, concerned – reads like both a shrine to and the embodiment of a form of civics that barely exists in America these days. Is lambent lamentation enough?

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Jp Omalley on May 21 2013

Packer's strength as a storyteller lies in his ability to marshal a diverse range of voices from across the class divide, in a nation deeply divided by social status.

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Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 15 2013

Exemplary journalism that defines a sobering, even depressing matter. A foundational document in the literature of the end of America—the end, that is, for the moment.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Edward Luce on May 24 2013

In its sensibility, The Unwinding is closer to a novel than a work of non-fiction. It is all the more powerful for it.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Kenneth Allard on May 21 2013

While Mr. Packer apparently shares the journalist’s defining conviction that faith, rather than politics, is simply a disguised form of fraud, his new book is troubling enough to crowd mourners’ benches all across the nation.

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Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Aram Bakshian Jr. on Aug 05 2013

George Packer is a great — or at least a very able — writer, but a lousy reporter...by cherry-picking very atypical characters and trying to make the odd experiences of their unrepresentative lives emblematic of contemporary America, he fails as a reporter, much less as a serious social commentator.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Hector Tobar on May 26 2013

..."The Unwinding," is a book that manages to be both sad and uplifting, much like the turbulent times it describes.

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The Economist

Excellent
on Jun 08 2013

...“The Unwinding” is a skilled work of narrative reporting, and more balanced than some.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on May 31 2013

Perhaps a new day is dawning when the immense creativity and still vigorous spirit of democracy in America will help shape a better life for the citizens of that republic. Meanwhile The Unwinding stands, to say the least, as brilliant propaganda on behalf of the distressed.

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National Post arts

Excellent
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on May 31 2013

It is a thesis that pundits and ideologues and professors will doubtless argue forever...Meanwhile The Unwinding stands, to say the least, as brilliant propaganda on behalf of the distressed.

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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