George Packer – The Unwinding: Thirty Years of American Decline

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Grāmatas apraksts no Goodreads/Synopsis from Goodreads:

Just over a decade into the new millennium, America is beset by a sense of crisis. The seismic shifts that occurred in the space of a generation have created a country of winners and losers, leaving the social contract in pieces. In The Unwinding, George Packer narrates the story of America over the past three decades, bringing to the task his empathy with people facing difficult challenges, his sharp eye for detail and a gift for weaving together engaging narratives.

The Unwinding moves deftly back and forth through the lives of half a dozen characters, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the industrial Midwest trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington careerist; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire. The narrative alternates these intimately told stories with biographical sketches of the era’s leading public figures, from Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs, capturing the year-by-year flow of events.

The Unwinding 
portrays a superpower coming apart at the seams, its elites and institutions no longer working, leaving ordinary people to improvise their own schemes for salvation.

Izdevniecība/Publisher: Faber & Faber

Kā tiku pie šīs grāmatas?/How I got this book?

Samainīju ar citu Latvijas Grāmatu izstādes 2016 maiņas punktā.

Vērtējums/Rating: 2.25/5

Mana recenzija (pārdomas)/My (thoughts) review

Grāmata publicēta 2013.gadā, tāpēc, mehāniski rēķinot, 30 gadi atpakaļ būtu 1983.gads, bet pirmais gadskaitlis, kas tiek minēts, ir 1978 (varbūt ideja par grāmatu piecus gadus agrāk).

Veids, kā ticis izvēlēts izklāstīt Amerikas Savienoto Valstu lejupslīdi, īpaši apstākļu pasliktināšanos vidusšķirai un mazāk turīgajai sabiedrības daļai (ienākumu nevienlīdzības palielināšanās), ir caur vairāku cilvēku personīgajiem stāstiem, kā arī pievēršot lielāku uzmanībai vairākām lokācijām – Volstrīta, Silīcija ieleja, Tampa un Vašingtona.

The Unwinding 2013.gadā bija National Book Award laureāte non-fiction kategorijā, tāpēc pilnībā zemē metama tā nav, bet izvēlētais veids un stils negāja pie sirds. Tā arī līdz galam nesapratu autora iecerēto domu, kuru lasītājs pēc grāmatas izlasīšanas varētu sev paņemt. Pašam kopējais noskaņojums šķita pārāk pesimistisks, kas, protams, nenozīmē, ka būtu patikusi pretēja galējība, jo, kad dzirdu ziņās vai kā izskanam frāzes, ka par maz pozitīvo ziņu, atliek vien nogrozīt acis un pabrīnīties. Paturpinot par noskaņu, šo grāmatu varētu dot tiem, kuri domā par pārcelšanos uz štatiem, būs liela varbūtība, ka pārdomās. :D

Tēmu spektrs, kas tiek skarts ir diezgan plašs. Sākot ar likumdošanas pārveidošanu un vienkāršošanu, piemēram, Glass-Steagall Act atcelšanu, un lobija ietekmi, un beidzot ar dažādiem burbuļiem, par kuru piepūšanu un pārspridzināšanu var pateikties cilvēku alkatībai un bezapdomībai. Līdz ar to apskatīta pēdējā lielā finanšu dižķibele ar Lehman Brothers un citu iestāžu pasludināto bankrotu un tam sekojošo haosu. Ir arīdzan bik par Occupy Wall Street kustību, kā arī politisko divpartejisko sistēmu un vēlēšanām, kuras gan tad, bet noteikti tagad no malas izskatās pēc cirka.

Pa starpu personīgajiem stāstiem ielikti daži veiksmes stāsti, no kuriem pazīstamākie vārdi būs Jay-Z un Opra Vinfrija. Ja tas bija iecerēts līdzsvaram ar domu, ka nav/nebūs nemaz tik slikti, tad diemžēl tas neizdevās.

Noslēgšu ar to, ka vienmēr izraisīs amerikāņu apsēstība ar automašīnām un nepieciešamību pēc mājas. Kas šķiet universāli, ka laikam visur būs cilvēki, kuri iebildīs un oponēs pret jebkuru ieceri principa pēc, pat neieklausoties otras puses argumentos.

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The book was published in 2013 so mechanically counting back 30 years it would be 1983, but the first year that is mentioned is 1978 (maybe the idea about this book was 5 years earlier).

The way how to tell the unwinding and decline of America, the growing income inequality where the rich get richer and poor get poorer is through people’s personal stories and also focusing on few places like Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Tampa and Washington.

In 2013 The Unwinding also received National Book Award for non-fiction, so it can’t be all that but again the way how it was chosen to tell the story wasn’t for my liking. Even at the end I didn’t what was the author’s intended message for the reader. The whole mood was too pessimistic, and I’m not saying that the complete opposite would be better as I myself groan every time I hear in the news that there are not enough positive news. Continuing about the mood, I would recommend this book who thinks about going abroad to live in the states; after reading this you might think otherwise. :D

The spectrum of themes that are discussed here is quite wide. Starting with legislation and how it was simplified and changed, for example the Glass-Steagall Act, and influence of lobbying, and ending with many kinds of bubbles that were inflated by people’s greed and irresponsibility. Subsequently the last financial crisis with bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and few other establishments and the following chaos is examined. Also a little bit about Occupy Wall Street movement, and about the bipartisan system, which maybe even then but definitely now from aside looks like a circus.

In between personal stories there were also few success stories from which the most known names could be Jay-Z and Oprah Winfrey. If that was intended as the equilibrium with the thought that it’s not/won’t be that bad, then unfortunately that wasn’t executed very well.

I will end with my constant wonder about American’s obsession with cars and the need to own a house. What seems to universal is that it seems there always be people who will oppose and protest against any project just for the sake of it, without even listening to what the other side has to say.

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