the unwinding

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The Unwinding is the right title for George Packer’s epic, sad and unsettling history of the last four decades in the US. His topic is the coming apart of something in the national fabric: the unravelling of unspoken agreements about the limits to Wall Street’s greed; about what a congressman would or wouldn’t do for the right price; about what a company owes its workers, or what the wealthy should contribute in tax. The result of all this unwinding is more personal freedom than ever before: “Freedom to change your story, get your facts, get hired, get fired, get high, marry, divorce, go broke, begin again, start a business, have it both ways, take it to the limit, walk away from the ruins, succeed beyond your dreams.” But it is the loneliest sort of freedom. What Packer’s disparate characters share – as his narrative moves up and down the spectrum of inequality, from inner-city Ohio to Silicon Valley, to the exurban McMansions of Florida, to Washington’s corridors of power – is that each is fundamentally on his or her own.

more from Oliver Burkeman at The Guardian here.

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