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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America [Anglais] [Broché]

George Packer
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 448 pages
  • Editeur : Farrar Straus Giroux; Édition : Reprint (4 mars 2014)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0374534608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374534608
  • Dimensions du produit: 21 x 14 x 3,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 23.007 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 DOWNWARD MOBILITY 16 décembre 2013
Format:Format Kindle
Hardworking and law-abiding Americans can no longer expect to reach the upper rungs of the social ladder. Over the past two decades a strong minority has even tumbled down due to financial duress. Focussing on some personal stories he has extensively researched, G. Packed goes to show how irrational exuberance on Wall Street has wreaked havoc among the middle class and left even the well-heeled wondering what has happened to the American dream. I am partial to this variety of HISTORICAL journalism that combines fascinating short stories borrowed from real life with hard facts/statistics and a broader view of recent events. A must-read. If you don't want to be the next victim, that is.
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The Unwinding 20 janvier 2014
Par Pete
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Haven't read but a few pages. And I'm going to stop leaving comments altogether unless Amazon stops requiring me to leave a minimum number of words.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.3 étoiles sur 5  478 commentaires
518 internautes sur 539 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Institutions vs. Individuals 23 mai 2013
Par Lukester - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
First off, this is not a polemical book with Packer trying to thrust his viewpoint down your throat. Packer's own voice is largely absent from this book. Instead, he lets his characters speak for themselves. Regardless of your politics, you have to agree with Packer that since the 1960's, Americans have "watched structures that had been in place before your birth collapse like pillars of salt across the vast visible landscape." Government no longer consists of genuine politicians seeking to help the people, banks are no longer the staid institutions we once knew, and American manufacturing and the stable union jobs that accompanied it are mostly gone. As Packer notes, the loss of these institutions has obviously hurt some and helped others to prosper.

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.

The genius of this book is that Packer doesn't tell you what to think. Instead, he presents indisputable facts by way of the stories of real people to show both sides of this "unwinding." At the end, you can draw your own conclusions. Packer is simply using his amazing powers of shaping narratives to capture this unique time of upheaval in America. It's easy to lose track of the drastic changes that have taken place over the last few decades unless you read a book like this, which captures the transformation of American institutions to American individualism. If you are liberal and mourn the loss of these institutions, Packer will force you to consider the opening of opportunities that came with these losses. If you're conservative and applaud the rise of the rugged individual, he will also make you recognize the price some people have paid due to the loss of security.

I would recommend this book to anyone that sees the change that has happened in the U.S. Although it is never stated, I think Packer is asking his readers a seemingly simple question: what does it mean to be an American, and what do we want this country to be? Is the price of freedom the loss of the common bonds that kept us all together, or is the overriding right to be free paramount to all else? I can guarantee that anyone who finishes this book will have a lot to think about and will have enjoyed reading these profiles.
214 internautes sur 229 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Split Personality 26 mai 2013
Par Robert Taylor Brewer - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
George Packer, we learn from the book's jacket blurb, is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine which means he has access to that publication's marvelous fact checking apparatus that is so good, many fact checkers at The New Yorker have gone on to write their own non fiction books. Packer has borrowed liberally from the John Dos Pasos U.S.A. Trilogy, especially its "Camera Eye" sequences to produce a book with an artistic sense of the possible, and the creative interpretations that go along with them.

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. For his part, Robert Rubin argued against regulation of derivatives. Then, after derivatives killed America in 2008, Robert Rubin argued against any responsibility. When a Congressional investigator told Rubin he couldn't have it both ways, Robert Rubin hurriedly left the room. Stop the cameras, stop the book. The fact that Robert Rubin was allowed to leave the room comes off as a major thesis of this book.

The gap between what Americans have and what they cheer for is another layer of Packer's analysis, although the book's commentary is somehow less successful when ordinary Americans like Tammy Thomas and Dean Price are Packer's subjects and I was less willing to follow their stories than I was when household name personalties like Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich were under Packer's microscope and his work on them seemed spellbinding.

This is a deeply unsettling book, and in the end, Unwinding seems an inappropriate description for it - The Great Adjustment seems more specifically geared to what actually took place in the country - those with more struggle to adjust to unfathomable wealth, those with less struggling with their new reality.
160 internautes sur 175 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Helps Readers See What's Happened This Past Half-Century 2 juin 2013
Par Loyd E. Eskildson - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Author Packer believes it's uncertain when the unwinding of traditional ethics and norms, institutions, and large-scale manufacturing began, but certain it was underway soon after 1960. Lacking the security provided by these formerly reliable sources of fairness and support, Americans have had to improvise and plot their own successes. Packer primarily tells this story through the lives of several Americans - Dean Price, son of tobacco farmers who became an evangelist for a green economy in the South; Tammy Thomas, Rust Belt factory worker in decaying Youngstown, Ohio; Jeff Connaughton, thoughtful longtime Joe Biden staffer who tries to pass meaningful legislation to regulate Wall Street; and Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley venture capitalist billionaire who questions the real value of the Internet economy (technology isn't creating enough jobs or moving the needle in areas like transportation, health, or energy). Readers are also provided the story of Tampa, Florida and its recent financial problems, as well as short biographies of leading public figures (Sam Walton, Newt Gingrich, Robert Rubin, Andrew Breitbart, Colin Powell, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Alice Waters, Raymond Carver, and Elizabeth Warren) during this time-period.

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.

I was particularly struck by the story of Tammy Thomas, a young black woman brought up in extremely adverse circumstances (mother repeatedly jailed for drugs, check fraud, and aggravated robbery, father AWOL), with numerous friends lacking ambition to lift themselves out of generations on welfare, and her own newborn while still in high-school. Nonetheless, she graduated on time (first in her family), acquired an associates' degree (and two more children), and got off welfare with a $7.30/hour job in a factory making wiring harnesses for G.M.

Unfortunately, Tammy not only picked the wrong parents, but also the wrong location and timing of her birth, as well as her brothers (on the front lines of a gang turf war over selling crack). When she was 11, Youngstown's largest steel mill shut down (9/23/77) with four days advance notice. From the 1920s until 1977, 25 uninterrupted miles of steel mils ran along the Mahoning River. Smaller factories had been closing throughout the 1970s, and a Harvard study found that even a billion in renovations wouldn't be enough to make the mills competitive. Over the next five years, every other major steel plant shut down. Between 1975 and 1985, 50,000 jobs left town, and probably the U.S. as well. The population fell by one-third, and in the late 1980s and 1990s, Youngstown became 'Murdertown.' (At least half her high-school classmates ended up dead, in jail, or on drugs.) Before getting laid off herself (jobs being shipped to Juarez), Tammy developed asthma from repeatedly dipping copper wires into molten lead) that sometimes required hospitalization, got carpal tunnel syndrome ('Packard hands') that prevented working sometimes for over a month) also became a layoff statistic after 19 years. However, rather than simply stay home and 'rot,' Tammy became a community organizer battling blight, while her daughters did not get pregnant, her son stayed out of the gangs, and they all graduated from high school and went on to college. Tammy went back to college as well, at age 40 she obtained a BA in sociology, with a minor in non-profit management.

After paying taxes on her buyout money in 2007 (the one-third remaining would take a 40% cut - to $13.50/hour in Tammy's case), Tammy had $82,000 left (and no pension), spending part to help he mother and children and the rest into a CD paying 3%. A relative by marriage who had helped Tammy and her husband finance their house offered to invest her money in real estate, promising 10% annual return - Tammy gave him her last $48,000. By 2009 the housing market was sliding and the payments stopped coming. Tammy is currently running a statewide campaign to broaden health care for seniors, children, and the disabled in Ohio.

Then there's Oprah, Tammy's counterpart who also grew up with the odds against her. Her 40 million viewers have things she doesn't - children, debts, and spare time, they consume the products she advertises but would never buy (Maybelline, Jenny Craig, IKEA), and she would thrill them by sometimes selecting one and wiping out her debts or buying her a house. But Oprah's magical thinking (vaccinations cause autism; positive thoughts lead to wealth, love and success) could be hard to swallow. And since there was no random suffering in life, Oprah left them with no excuses.

Robert Rubin was Wall Street's 'wise man' for the Clinton administration, preaching the gospel of deregulation. He then garnered $126 million between 1999 and 2009 for his advice to Citigroup (Chairman of its Executive Committee), and when both Citigroup (lost $65billion) and the economy collapsed due to the lack of regulation he fomented, he makes no apology to anyone.

Bottom-Line: 'The Unwinding' is not a fun read - nobody enjoys learning how hard-working, honest people became frustrated by the actions of others far above them in the economic strata; just as bad, is reading about how formerly vibrant communities became economic disaster zones. Nonetheless, Packer's work highlights a thesis we need to reconsider - that what's good for Wall Street must also be good for Main Street.
19 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 America Undone 8 juin 2013
Par Brian Lewis - Publié sur
This is a remarkable, unique book that covers the events of the last 20-30 years through the perspectives of 15 - 20 characters. Packer is able to get us inside the heads of his characters as he details the decay of American government and business institutions. It gives you a sense of what it means to be living and trying to stay at least middle class in a country in severe economic decline.

This non fiction book is more like a book of short stories than a novel. And sometimes switching back and forth from one character to another can be disconcerting. However the individual profiles are often brilliant. There is a wild mix of characters including an idealistic lawyer who eventually morphs into a lobbyist; a businessman who tries to start a company making renewable energy; a single mother of three trying to hold onto one of the last union jobs in Youngstown Ohio before it is shipped off to Mexico. And we met celebrities like Oprah, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

In terms of style the book is in some ways an homage to John Dos Passos, using news headlines to fix the time and place for readers.

This is a very valuable snapshot, or series of snapshots, about the current state of affairs in America.
37 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "A cross between Studs Terkel and Ken Burns" 9 juin 2013
Par Pam Gearhart - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
That's how Jon Stewart described the book, when Mr. Packer was a guest on The Daily Show. That comment, and Mr. Packer's wit, enthusiasm, and articulateness convinced me to try the book.

I don't read much non-fiction, especially the socio-political variety. It seems that most of these books -- the ones on the best seller list anyway -- are written by people with an agenda. I don't want to be proselytized -- I want to be educated, and equally important, I want to be entertained. Mr. Packer's book does this.

I was most intrigued by Tammy's story. Tammy is from Youngstown, Ohio, and she lived through the demise of the steel mills and the loss of thousands of good jobs, the destruction of a once vibrant community. I worked in a factory for twelve years. I wasn't on the assembly line but my job put me close to people on the shop floor, as well as management and the union. Packer got all of that exactly right. The factory where I worked closed two years ago, 2000 jobs lost in a small town. Even though the plant was profitable, the owners saw fit to move operations to Mexico.

Because he got Tammy's story so right, I have to assume the other viewpoints are equally accurate. Connaughton's experiences in Washington were enthralling, and depressing. I've never been so deep inside our political system. Can we just throw them all out and start over?

Readers who are more astute than me will find more to analyze in the book than I did. But even for an average person, like me, who hasn't paid a lot of attention or who doesn't understand why we are where we are, this book will go a long way toward that understanding. The writing is clear and compelling, and the people are fascinating.
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