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Packer's is an American voice of exceptional clarity and humanity in a tradition of reportage that renders the quotidian extraordinary. When our descendants survey the ruins of this modern imperium and sift its cultural detritus, American voices like this will be the tiny treasures that endure. (David Goldblatt Independent 2013-06-15)
The historic scope of Packer's book - from the late-Seventies economic downturn right up to the recent Occupy Wall Street protests - is as impressive as its immense ambition and its cumulative narrative power ... A Great American Novel in the guise of a Great Nonfiction Epic, The Unwinding asks us .... that daunting, unsettling question: do we truly like the world we have made for ourselves? (The Times)
Epic, sad and unsettling history of the last four decades in the US ... 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. The sense of loneliness - of isolated souls, failed by their institutions, pummelled by the forces of big money - seems to seep under your skin, and to stay there. (Oliver Burkeman Guardian)
Packer is among the best non-fiction writers in America ... In its sensibility, The Unwinding is closer to a novel than a work of fiction. It is all the more powerful for it. (Edward Luce The Financial Times 2013-06-16)
America is in crisis. In the space of a generation, it has become more than ever a country of winners and losers, as industries have failed, institutions have disappeared and the country's focus has shifted to idolise celebrity and wealth.
George Packer narrates the story of America over the past three decades, bringing to the task his empathy with people facing difficult challenges, his sharp eye for detail and a gift for weaving together engaging narratives.
The Unwinding moves deftly back and forth through the lives of its people, 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 industrial Midwest attempting to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a political careerist in Washington; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire. Their stories are interspersed with biographical sketches of the era's leading public figures, from Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs, to create a rich, wise and very human portrait of the USA in these hard times.
The Unwinding portrays a superpower coming apart at the seams, its elites and institutions no longer working, leaving ordinary people to improvise their own schemes for salvation.
George Packer is also the author of The Assassin's Gate, which was named one of the ten best books of 2005 by the New York Times and won the Helen Bernstein Book Award.
'A tour de force . . . A fascinating journey through an America that has largely remained hidden from view. There are echoes of Don DeLillo's Underworld in the scope of Packer's vision and his deft eye for language and detail.' Sunday Business Post
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