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The Unwinding - An Inner History of The New America, by George Packer

 

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I came by this book via a serendipitous path, and it’s proven quite a gift. Anyone who hasn’t been living underneath a rock for the past two decades understands that the U.S. - and possibly the world - is undergoing remarkable social and economic change. Still, only a few, I suspect, know why this is happening and how it’s impacting the U.S. citizenry, the nation’s economic machine, and what the ensuing social ills have been. I thought I was perhaps one of these few who were in the know, but Packer’s extensive reportage here informs me that I, like most other concerned citizens, knew little of this  metamorphic time. 

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His approach to understanding this era is to portray an assortment of lives in non-linear fashion - the rich, the famous, the struggling, and others like Packer, who are simply trying to understand. Why such an approach? Because, Packer seems to believe, the unwinding, as he calls it, has no clear beginning, and it has many causes. Consequently, its innate complexity makes it all the more difficult to assess and assimilate, on all levels, the economic, the political, the technological, the social, the military...and on and on. 

Packer seems apocalyptic at times here, but he’s even-handed enough to leave us with a glimmer of hope. This, I think, is the case with all metamorphic eras: for those who fear change, there’s something of a self-imposed apocalypse, but for those who flex into change, there’s always a speck of promise looming.

 

My rating 19 of 20 stars

 

 

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