George Packer’s The Unwinding mixes the national with the local in this personal history of the economic situation of the United States. Using a mixture of secondary sources and interviews, he develops America’s economic history with a special focus on showing how certain decisions and situations have affected the livelihoods of ordinary Americans. In each chapter, he covers an experience or event from a particular time period in recent United States history.
Although it is a challenge to read, The Unwinding was quite interesting. I personally found the personal interviews the most engaging, as they show the challenges and hope that the individuals carry throughout their experiences. I was touched by those parts because they conveyed their experiences so vividly, and I thought Packer demonstrated his message most strongly. While Packer did a great job of conveying the individual struggles of the ones he interviewed but I did not find Packer’s descriptions of historical events and figures fully satisfactory. I occasionally wondered if I was missing something, and, for me, this hurt the cohesiveness of the book.
Overall, I found the book interesting and a good view into a challenging and relevant topic. Because the book discusses a weighty topic, The Unwinding would probably make a great discussion book or supplementary reading for an appropriate course.