Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Unwinding with George Packer - Conversations with History


George Packer recently stopped by Google to speak about his new book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. Here is a synopsis of the book from Amazon:
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.
Sounds like an interesting book.

The Unwinding with George Packer - Conversations with History



Published on Aug 1, 2013

Harry Kreisler welcomes George Packer for a discussion of his new book, "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America." Packer discusses his formative experiences, including forging his own political identity and coming to terms with the legacy of his progressive grandfather and his liberal father. He then recounts the influence of his mother on his writing and his odyssey—Peace Corps, construction, working with the homeless, and membership in the socialist party-- that led him to writing as a vocation. After sketching the skills and temperament of a writer, Packer describes the origins of his new book and its architecture. He then discusses the two groups of men and women whose personal narratives his book explores and relates how their lives give insight into the unwinding of the American dream. The discussion offers a compelling portrait of the inner history of the new America defined by glaring inequality and the collapse of institutions. Series: "Conversations with History" [8/2013]
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