A review of George Packer’s “The Unwinding”

[Christian Science Monitor]

In the Christian Science Monitor, I’ve got a review of George Packer’s wonderful new book, The Unwinding.

Back in 2005, in a a profile of Packer published in the Columbia Journalism Review, David Glenn praised the author’s previous book, on the Iraq war: “When he couches his voice within long narratives about other people’s lives . . . Packer’s ambivalent and restless approach to the world can be extremely powerful. The accretion of details in the book is consistently moving and provocative.” That can double as an apt description of Packer’s new book, as well, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Glenn’s profile is also worth reading, as it recounts how Packer discovered (and, for a time, resisted) his approach:

His aim was to create a narrative voice that could tell vivid human stories while simultaneously leading the reader through complex political and historical arguments and leaving room for curiosity and ambivalence. “That narrative voice doesn’t emerge by talking about yourself,: Packer says. “It emerges by — in a way, by how strong an observer you are, and by how strong a thinker you are.”

About Craig Fehrman

Craig Fehrman is a Ph.D. student in Yale’s English department and a freelance writer. He's working on a book about presidents and their books [more] . . .
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