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 recent books include Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade. He lives in Brooklyn.

Editorial Reviews

"This angry, wise and moving state-of-the-union address is too subtle and clever to be prescriptive. Packer offers no simplistic solutions. But here''s the thing. The writing in this fine work showcases the very same qualities of democratic generosity and fair-mindedness whose supposed disappearance in America its author most laments."