I pleasantly stumbled upon George Packer’s “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” while doing my usual perusing through the local book store, and I’m almost sure Packer’s audacious journalistic endeavor is my favorite book of the year thus far.
Packer strolls through the Rust Belt, Wall Street, D.C., the Piedmont and into the decaying Tampa suburbs, blighted by the housing collapse. Weaved between biographical sketches of a diverse cast that includes Jay-Z and Newt Gingrich, “The Unwinding” mainly follows the trajectory of three Americans who must make due with their crumbling towns, unraveling social fabric, job instability and failed political systems and institutions. Something big has changed in America, Packer effectively frames through the voices of his subjects, and it isn’t good.
This is not a story of Red vs. Blue – not to me, at least – but one of resiliency, of perseverance by regular folks who strive for progress as the social and economic scales tip away from them and toward the corrupt, the greedy and the bureaucratic.
Here’s Packer on the Daily Show.