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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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Packer tells this story by presenting a series of compelling profiles of several individuals: among them a union worker in Youngstown, Ohio, a entrepreneur/bio-fuels evangelist in North Carolina, a D.C. insider, and a Silicon Valley innovator. These profiles follow the progression of their protagonist from the late 70's to the present day. Each story is independent, but all share a common thread: as the institutions that provided security to Americans following the New Deal and into the 70's started to fall apart, each person is forced to deal with their new found freedom. Some thrive, while others struggle to survive.
Interspersed in these longer narratives are shorter profiles of key players in the unwinding, from Newt Gingrich and Andrew Breitbart to Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z. As he skips ahead in years, each new section is foreshadowed by a collage of words - snippets of movie and music quotes and headlines from newspapers - that Packer uses to expertly capture the mood of each year.Read more ›
Through a series of glimmering short essays, Packer has put together a story of how wealth has concentrated itself in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century, and the first decade of the 21st. One lesson most of us learned about the Great Depression was that the wealthy, by themselves, could not sustain the U.S. economy in 1932. One commentator wrote that every person making over $100,000 would have had to buy 32 cars in order to stave off the economic consequences of the 1929 stock market crash. On the contrary, the lesson drawn by Packer about the 2008 Great Recession is that today, the wealthy are so wealthy they can indeed sustain the U.S. economy almost by themselves. This staggering conclusion is brought home to readers in Packer's brief but luminous essay on Sam Walton where he writes that six of Walton's descendants had as much money as 30% of the least well off Americans. The story of how America's other top income earners fared until the onset of The Great Recession is told in the essay on Robert Rubin: the top 1% of wage earners saw their incomes triple. People in the middle enjoyed a 20% income increase, people at the bottom had flat income which means on an inflation adjusted basis, they lost money.Read more ›
What has replaced them, per Packer, is financial engineering, an environment of organized money in which six of Sam Walton's heirs now have as much money as the bottom 30% (94.5 million) of Americans, and the hollowing out of the heartland because it was good for corporate bottom-lines. His principal villain is the banking industry, which he contends has preyed on Americans lacking financial astuteness and restraint. Our American ideals involving fairness and opportunity for all have become undermined by unregulated capitalism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An illuminating look into the 'memory hole' that holds the answers as to what has caused the great decline of superpower usa. Resetting didn't work, so maybe we can rewind. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Kathryn Barbour
It's a must read for every American wondering "what happened" to our great experiment that once preached exceptionalism and the idea that we should not give up on it, no... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Omar Ghaffar
One of the best written, thoughtful, articulate and important books I've read in years. It should have been even more widely discussed and promoted, even though it was honored and... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
The author weaves together the stories of various people, some famous and some not so much, as a snapshot of America going through a tumultuous change, i.e., the unwinding. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Gives a good sense of the problem by following 5 or 6 ordinary people over 20 to 30 years. Also interesting write ups on a few key players as background for the stories.Published 2 months ago by A. Bruce King