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The Unwinding An Inner History of the New AmericaOries with biographical sketches of the era's leading public figures from Newt Gingrich to Jay Z and collages made from newspaper headlines advertising slogans and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams its elites no longer elite its institutions no longer working its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation Packer's novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to dateOne of the iTunes Bookstore's Ten Books You Must Read This Summ Packer follows the lives of three people from 1978 through 2012 filling in with many side vignettes to illustrate the dramatic changes in middle class life We see how people lost their jobs and their homes caught up in the boom and bust cycles of the period We see how powerful corporations and their political minions decimated the working class To those who bought into the American dream of the 1950’s and 60’s there was a rude awakening Sprinkled throughout are brief biographical sketches of influential people of the period such as Raymond Carver Newt Gingrich Sam Walton Colin Powell Oprah and Alice Waters Packer is an engaging writer who lets personal stories make a much larger point My notes followDean Price was raised in a dysfunctional poor farm family in the Piedmont of North Carolina The decline of tobacco farming left many fields unplowed and poverty widespread Despite an abusive father Dean was able to finish college and land a good job with Johnson Johnson as a pharmaceutical rep He found the job unsatisfying the go to college get a good corporate job and be happy line to be a myth Reading Napoleon Hill he decided to become an entrepreneur He opened a truck stop and manufactured his own biodiesel getting local farmers to grow canola he refined into biofuel He was both a businessman and a visionary on sustainability He became a millionaire then as the economic winds shifted and large oil industry competitors encroached he lost everything His capacity for innovative ideas exceeded his capacity to navigate the cutthroat world of business Trying to resurrect himself he relentlessly approached government officials at all levels to support local biofuel production but with only good words from Democrats and disdain from Republicans he got nowhere By 2010 with the rise of the Tea Party sustainability was a dirty word in the Piedmont However Packer ends Dean Price’s story on a wisp of hope that with some tweaking he will build a new biofuel business Jeff Connaughton was a gifted young MBA who first worked for Smith Barney and E F Hutton before following his heart and joining the 1987 Joe Biden presidential campaign taking a junior position fundraising The campaign fell apart when Biden was called out for plagiarizing a speech Connaughton went on to a job on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee He left to get a law degree and returned to Washington ending up with a West Wing job as an assistant to Clinton’s White House Counsel Abner Mikva Following that Connaughton “sold out” as they used to say or “cashed in” as they say today taking a job as a lobbyist Packer notes that 42% of congressmen and senators leaving office from 1998 – 2004 became lobbyists In 2007 Connaughton joined Biden’s second presidential bid which also failed but when Biden became VP a new opportunity rose Biden’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman was appointed to replace Biden in the senate and he made Connaughton his chief of staff The senator’s term was two years after which he would retire Unfettered by reelection concerns there was no need for fundraising or kowtowing to lobbyists Kaufman and Connaughton challenged special interests confronting the lobbyists with little success Even in the middle of the financial crisis the financial reform measures that were introduced were substantially weakened by the time they passed In short Kaufman and Connaughton’s gallant efforts proved that lobbyists almost always win Afterwards Connaughton moved far from the Washington melee to Savannah Georgia to write his memoirs If Biden runs in 2020 I wonder if Connaughton will return to the fold Tammy Thomas was raised by her great grandmother in Youngstown Ohio Her mother was an addict Tammy through perseverance finished high school and got a two year degree from a technical college Eventually she landed a good job at a local factory But Youngstown was already on the decline In the 1970s factories began closing and cutting back as the region uickly turned into the rust belt With few jobs in town housing values declined Unable to pay bills people lost everything Vacant houses littered the landscape and drug gangs infested them Tammy a union employee took a buyout and gave up her job As unions lost their power new hires would be non union and paid much less Fortunately Tammy had an ability to connect with people She found a position with a progressive organization as a community organizer While rallying kindred spirits provided a renewed sense of community little progress was made on bread and butter issues I found it interesting that she and her organization prioritized tearing down all the vacant homes over building new decent housing Packer cuts away to side stories such as one about the brilliant ambitious politically conservative Peter Thiel After Stanford Law School and a stint as a derivatives trader with Credit Suisse Thiel cofounded Pay Pal He was an extremely successful Silicon Valley investor making hundreds of millions on companies like Facebook He ended up moving his hedge fund to New York where he became a billionaire but lost most of it in 2008 9 He moved back to California then made billions again and currently is in the Forbes 400 Thiel finances far right conservative causes such as the ploy by video maker James O’Keefe that took down Acorn More recently after Packer’s book was published 2013 Thiel became a noted benefactor of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign Lately he has expressed some disappointment in Trump An irreverent libertarian Thiel believes the American system is broken and discourages innovation Another side story explores the pain of the housing debacle in 2007 8 Packer focuses on the Tampa area where developers sold track homes far from town to purchasers who would soon lose their jobs Developers also fed flippers a steady diet of homes they ultimately would not be able to sell Packer chronicles the devastation of entire neighborhoods and details personal tragedies of families left on the edge as they lost their jobs and homes Mortgage companies and banks often did not maintain accurate records or authentic documents often using robo signers Yet the courts didn’t blink an eye uickly disposing of foreclosures cases One regular court observer noted that it took her longer to get through the McDonald's drive thru line in the morning than for the court to throw a family out of their home Packer also reports on how the banks sold sketchy mortgage backed derivatives fueling the financial crisis But the banks Lehman Brothers excepted got bailed out the homeowners strung out Remarkably different citizen responses emerged to the financial crisis Packer tells how some locals in the Tampa area became Tea Party activists in 2010 Then he goes on to recount the short lived Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 All of these stories are part of the unwinding of the American dream Get an education follow the rules a satisfying job and a wonderful life awaits you Many Americans who bought into this dream were sorely disappointed Economic cycles spun by corporate greed and self serving politics did them in Packer does not consider other contributing factors such as automation and globalization Against the Wall Street Washington steamroller well meaning politicians innovative small business people and social activists at best made small temporary gains Packer’s picture of America gives us portraits of some inspiring people but it does not offer much hope for the future I wonder how Packer would address the Trump era we are now in or what will follow when the current revved up economic boom ends in bust like the others Packer’s writing flows and the pages are easy to turn Adding in its human interest relevance and thought provoking nature this book is one just about everyone should be able to appreciate

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doc ¹ The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America ebook × hannahredhead É A riveting examination of a nation in crisis from one of the finest political journalists of our generationAmerican democracy is beset by a sense of crisis Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a A riveting examination of a nation in crisis from one of the finest political journalists of our generationAmerican democracy is beset by a sense of crisis Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract driving the political system to the verge of breakdown and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward In The Unwinding George Packer author of The Assassins' Gate America in Ira tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way with his characteristically ”No one can say when the unwinding began – when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way Like any great change the unwinding began at countless times in countless ways – and at some moment the country always the same country crossed a line of history and became irretrievably different”The Unwinding is an interesting revealing thoughtful mosaic of America in the years 1978 – 2012 from The Last American VagabondThe graphic fits; I make no comment about the web site wwwthelastamericanvagabondcom with which I am unfamiliarGeorge Packer has structured the book as a weave of several themes which he follows as the years roll bySome of the themes are embodied in the stories of three actual Americans none of whom you’re likely to have heard of PS I believe the pictures below show Packer's characters Hard to track down especially the picture of Ms ThomasDean Price biodiesel entrepreneur from North Carolina A true believer in the American dream one who despite entrepreneurial failure over and over marches resolutely on Jeff Connaughton Washington lobbyist and Congressional staffer Long time devotee of Joe Biden from Jeff’s college days in Alabama who ultimately tires of the cynical ways of Washington Wall Street and his one time idolTammy Thomas Youngstown Ohio factory worker turned community organizer To me the most touching story a woman raised by her great grandmother first of her family to graduate high school witnesses the devastating implosion of Youngstown Sheet and Tube which precipitated all the problems of that community raised her kids into good people and eventually becomes an activistorganizer Two themes relate primarily to places but are again narrated by reference to real people as well as to aspects of the place which help tell Packer’s storyTampa This story touches several people involved in different ways in the housing boom and bustSilicon Valley Here often by writing of Peter Thiel activist venture capitalist libertarian the billionaire co founder of PayPal Packer tells the story of the1% the confident over confident? might I even say massively egotistical? Valley gurus who see 21st century salvation in their technological visions of the future unfettered by government regulation human kinds’ heroes directing us forward into whateverA final theme is personified by the famous or at least modestly famous Each character gets a single chapter mini biography an ironic? narrative of the shape of their fame and not always a final suggestion that their effect on the country was not uite what it first appeared The paradeNewt GingrichOprah WinfreyRaymond CarverSam WaltonColin PowellAlice WatersRobert RubinJay ZAndrew BreitbartElizabeth WarrenAnd interspersed into the weave are single page capsules of headline news events uotations and other flotsam for individual years 1978 ’84 ’87 ’94 ’99 ’03 ’08 ’10 ’12 An example from a year of literary import – 1984 view spoiler On January 24 Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984 BANK SECURITIES UNITS MAY UNDERWRITE BONDS It’s morning again in America and under the leadership of President Reagan our country is prouder and stronger and better Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago? I had a job I had a girl I had something going mister in this world I got laid off down at the lumberyard Our love went bad times got hard TAMPA SEES GAINS FOR ITS HARD WORK “But those kinds of things can’t do for us long term what a Super Bowl can do This is a real opportunity for us to show people what a great place this is that they can come here and not expect to be taken advantage of” MISS AMERICA IS ORDERED TO UIT FOR POSING NUDE You’re judged by performance Why drive a car that lives by a lesser code? At Bank of New England Vice President David E Hersee Jr went apartment hunting for the daughter of a California customer who was moving to Boston Of course apartment hunting is reserved for the very best clients LINDA GRAY’S SECRET LOVE Just like “Dallas” Role – She Falls for Younger Man In the four years before he took office country after country fell under the Soviet yoke Since January 20 1981 not one inch of soil has fallen to the Communists USA USA USA BEEPERS SAID TO LINK LEGIONS OF AREA’S WORKAHOLICS Devices Now Perceived As Lifelines; No Longer a High Tech Oddity The housing finance industry needs a national mortgage exchange that does for mortgages and mortgage backed securities trading “what the New York Stock Exchange does for corporate stock trading” Fannie Mae Chairman David O Maxwell told NEW US REPORT NAMES VIRUS THAT MAY CAUSE AIDS There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity There are times when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it I’m convinced it was that morning at the warehouse that pushed me to take on the presidency of Chrysler REAGAN WINS RE ELECTION IN LANDSIDE And I feel like I’m a rider in a downbound train hide spoiler

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Sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans 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 Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel a Silicon Valley billionaire who uestions the Internet's significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future Packer interweaves these intimate st I never had an idea of what my life was supposed to be I had dreams too vague to be ambitions but nobody ever handed me the keys to a life and told me to drive away into the future So at some point I found myself in the future and looking around I had to ask how did I get here?This book is about that uestion and as Packer winds through the answers in the life of each subject he inscribes all our lives through these last forty years We were all here and even if we didn't know what we were seeing we all saw it the way the life seemed to seep out of us; dollars out of our paychecks jobs out of communities hopes out of expectations The Unwinding He gives a voice to their stories and because their stories are our stories he voices us too And though it's a story of sad and regretful pieces there's a lot of hope in it and that hope becomes our hope And so it feels good to read it