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Book Review: The Unwinding by George Packer

"When the norms that made the old institutions useful began to unwind, and the leaders abandoned their posts, the Roosevelt Republic that had reigned for almost half a century came undone. The void was filled by the default force in American life, organized money."
"As Chris Hayes did in his terrific Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, Packer locates the responsibility for the unraveling on the elite class of technocrats and insiders that truly rule us in our democracy, and this is not for him a matter of partisan politics (and it isn't in Hayes' account either). Rather, even the so-called more "populist" party of Democrats need to be held responsible, Packer maintains; for example, he writes of Robert Rubin, Jacob Lew, Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, et al:

All at the top of their field, all brilliant and educated to within an inch of their lives, all Democrats, all implicated in an epic failureŚnow hired to sort out the ruins. How could they not see things the way of the bankers with whom they'd studied and worked and ate and drunk and gotten rich? Social promotion and conflict of interest were built into the soul of the meritocracy. The Blob was unkillable.

Ultimately though, the stars of Packer's searing work are those struggling daily against the tide of emotional depression, hard work and indifference from the powers-that-be, those who still manage to get up every morning, put food on the table and keep their spirits alive, against the background of an ever-more-failing America for the working and middle classes.

The Unwinding is a lyrical requiem for a lost time, for downsized dreams and surrendered hopes. It's beautiful, as I said, at the outset of this review, but also ... heartbreaking, a lush work of art that hurts all the more for being about the loss of hope and promise in America."

to read the book review of George Packer's "The Unwinding" published in June 2013, click on

 link to www.dailykos.com

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VIDEO on BookTV 04.Sep.2013 07:17


to watch the 1 hr 2 min video on "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America" broadcast September 1, 2013 on www.booktv.org, click on

 link to www.booktv.org

George Packer, staff writer for the New Yorker, profiles numerous people, from a factory worker and Silicon Valley entrepreneur to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, to present a history of the United States over the past three decades. The author speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.

George Packer's books include The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. He is a staff writer for the New Yorker.