Unpacking George Packer’s The Unwinding


New Yorker writer George Packer has penned a complex but cohesive portrait of American decline in The Unwinding, Anis Shivani writes in the Observer‘s June issue.

Developers connive with local government—both aided by Wall Street sharks eager to securitize lousy mortgages in pursuit of out-sized profits—to bring middle-class investors to their knees. This tale has been oft-told, but Packer’s skill in deploying novelistic depth of characterization makes the connections between high and low—normally segregated classes—all too apparent.

Within Packer’s sweeping survey of American ills, it’s his skill at connecting the dots between seemingly disparate characters and events that makes Packer’s work so compelling, Shivani suggests. Read the whole review here.

The Dallas Morning News also gave The Unwinding a favorable review, calling it “long-form journalism at its best.”

And while having your book described as “a 51hL5KA3ohL._SL500_AA300_painful thing to read” by The New York Times is often not a good thing, in this case reviewer Dwight Garner is describing his visceral reaction to the book’s power. Garner says The Unwindinghums—with sorrow, with outrage and with compassion…

The Boston Globe is somewhat less impressed, calling the book “compelling at times,” but pegging it as perhaps Packer’s “worst non-fiction book” due to its fragmented reliance on stories already familiar to many readers.

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Nick Swartsell is a freelance writer and graduate student at the University of Texas.


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