Nonfiction, on The Week's best of 2015 list, about erosion of the middle class and "winner-takes-all" culture in America. Sounds like a very good read.
George Packer provides a montage of stories exploring America's contemporary history and the unwinding of norms that are shaping the promises for building new foundations in a post-modern society. Multiple themes are placed onto the pages that throw a wide net around trying to understand where we've been and where we may be headed as a nation. Packer is solid in finding nuances in dialogue that shape his characters' take on the direction for the country during transitional times. It's as if he leaves the tape recorder on and we get to listen in to interviews with people as varied as Oprah Winfrey, Joe Biden, a religious small business entrepreneur, a libertarian tech entrepreneur, an activist, factory worker, Wall Street analyst, and others. These personal biographies intertwine with sociological, philosophical, and economic narratives that can elicit a range of emotional responses from profound sadness and remorse to anxiety and hope. Parker can be dry, but his content slowly drives the reader to different contact points with history that ultimately intertwine and prompt readers towards connecting the dots to what the unwinding will mean for a new future. His qualitative research puts people's voices at the front of this great change, which is refreshing in an age of too many pundits. If you've wondered how we got to now, this book provides a clue.
I think of it as a "pony book" -- the old joke about the kid cleaning out a stable hoping there is a pony in there somewhere. I get the feeling Packer is in the same situation, hoping to find something hopeful in the pieces he is looking at.
my feeling as well. let me tell you about this person for a while. now let me tell you about another person, and so on. ok, what's the point you are making? perhaps there is no point, it's just a chronicle of biographys of a time. it's ok for a listen in the car, but i'll probably not finish it.
Stories about a variety of Americans, some well known, most not. Some fascinating, some not, illustrating the title theme. There was no analysis/commentary/conclusions/statistics on the theme, which would have added to it, I think. It's self-explanatory in a way, but on the other hand, it kind of leaves the reader at loose ends.
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