The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

by George Packer

Farrar, Straus And Giroux | March 4, 2014 | Trade Paperback

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The 2013 National Book Award Winner
A New York Times Bestseller

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 tells the story of the past three decades by journeying through the lives of several Americans, including a son of tobacco farmers who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of
her city, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money, and a Silicon Valley billionaire who arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these stories with sketches of public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper
headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8.24 × 5.44 × 1.15 in

Published: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374534608

ISBN - 13: 9780374534608

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– More About This Product –

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

by George Packer

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8.24 × 5.44 × 1.15 in

Published: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374534608

ISBN - 13: 9780374534608

Read from the Book

No one can say when the unwinding began—when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way. Like any great change, the unwinding began at countless times, in countless ways—and at some moment the country, always the same country, crossed a line of history and became irretrievably different. If you were born around 1960 or afterward, you have spent your adult life in the vertigo of that unwinding. You watched structures that had been in place before your birth collapse like pillars of salt across the vast visible landscape—the farms of the Carolina Piedmont, the factories of the Mahoning Valley, Florida subdivisions, California schools. And other things, harder to see but no less vital in supporting the order of everyday life, changed beyond recognition— ways and means in Washington caucus rooms, taboos on New York trading desks, manners and morals everywhere. When the norms that made the old institutions useful began to unwind, and the leaders abandoned their posts, the Roosevelt Republic that had reigned for almost half a century came undone. The void was filled by the default force in American life, organized money. The unwinding is nothing new. There have been unwindings every generation or two: the fall to earth of the Founders’ heavenly Republic in a noisy marketplace of quarrelsome factions; the war that tore the United States apart and turned them from plural to singular; the crash that laid
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Table of Contents

Prologue

PART I

1978

Dean Price

Total War: Newt Gingrich

Jeff Connaughton

1984

Tammy Thomas

Her Own: Oprah Winfrey

Jeff Connaughton

1987

Craftsman: Raymond Carver

Dean Price

Tammy Thomas

Mr. Sam: Sam Walton

1994

Jeff Connaughton

Silicon Valley

1999

Dean Price Tammy Thomas 2003

Institution Man (1): Colin Powell

Jeff Connaughton

PART II

Dean Price

Radish Queen: Alice Waters

Tampa

Silicon Valley

2008

Institution Man (2): Robert Rubin

Jeff Connaughton

Tammy Thomas

Dean Price

Just Business: Jay-Z

Tampa

PART III

Jeff Connaughton

2010

Citizen Journalist: Andrew Breitbart

Tampa

Dean Price

Tammy Thomas

Tampa

Prairie Populist: Elizabeth Warren

Wall Street

2012

Silicon Valley

Jeff Connaughton

Tampa

Tammy Thomas

Dean Price

A Note on Sources

Acknowledgments

From the Publisher

The 2013 National Book Award Winner
A New York Times Bestseller

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 tells the story of the past three decades by journeying through the lives of several Americans, including a son of tobacco farmers who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of
her city, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money, and a Silicon Valley billionaire who arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these stories with sketches of public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper
headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.

About the Author

George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, which received several 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, Blood of the Liberals, which won the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and The Village of Waiting. His play, Betrayed, ran off-Broadway 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.

Editorial Reviews

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 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 Praise for The Unwinding: [ The Unwinding ] hums—with sorrow, with outrage and with compassion . . . Packer’s gifts are Steinbeckian in the best sense of that term . . . [Packer has] written something close to a nonfiction masterpiece.” — Dwight Garner, The New York Times “Gripping . . . deeply affecting . . . beautifully reported.” — David Brooks, The New York Times Book Review “Remarkable.” —Joe Klein, Time “Packer’s dark rendering of the state of the nation feels pained but true. He offers no false hopes, no Hollywood endings, but he finds power in . . . the dignity and heart of a people.” — The Washington Post “[ The Unwinding ] has many of the qualities of an epic novel . . . [a] professional work of journalism that also happens to be more intimate and textured—and certainly more ambitious—than most contemporary works of U.S. fiction dare to be . . . What distinguishes The Unwinding is the fullness of Packer’s portraits, his willingness to show his subjects’ huma
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