The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

George Packer

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0374534608

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.





















for failing to turn over almost ten thousand dollars in meals taxes that his business had collected on behalf of the state. He had always feared the power of government, almost as much as he had feared poverty. Government could put you in prison, and prison was one of his nightmares. He didn’t think he could stand losing his freedom. He often dreamed about it—a feeling of anxiety, that he had messed up somehow, though not intentionally, and they were coming for him—and he would wake up from

researching these new markets and was stunned by the opacity of the electronic labyrinth. He was a pretty sophisticated investor, but he could no longer say what happened to the trade orders he placed—and none of the insiders seemed able to explain it, either. The ordinary investor was at an immense disadvantage, the market vulnerable to extreme volatility, and the SEC years behind in monitoring it. Kaufman began pushing the SEC to improve its oversight of high-frequency trading, and at first

excesses of finance. But she did not talk about these things as one of the elites. She did not say, in the same breath, “It’s not personal, guys—let’s be reasonable and get a deal.” For that reason, some of Obama’s most passionate supporters were moving away from him, and toward her. In the summer of 2011, the president emerged in the Rose Garden from an extended negotiation with himself and, to avoid an unwinnable fight, announced that he would nominate Warren’s deputy, Richard Cordray, to be

Parenthood away. It’s assistance for women that could not afford mammograms, pap smears, preventive cancer. If a woman’s diagnosed with breast cancer, what’s she going to do if she ain’t got the money?” Danny said, “My view on everything—if you want to change this country, you have to put a person in office who has never done it for a day. Put a regular old guy like me, someone who’s lived it and never done nothing else but live it.” He sipped his Diet Pepsi. “We’re struggling, but we’re not

manufacturing, and when he came through Kathy’s lab and asked if anyone had a story, Kathy told him hers. The next thing Kathy knew, she was Michelle Obama’s guest at the 2011 State of the Union address (and she hadn’t even voted for Mrs. Obama’s husband in 2008, though she might well the next time around). When the president mentioned Kathy Proctor’s name in his speech, she was so surprised that the cameras caught a stout woman with lank dark hair turning to the people seated beside her in the

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