Neda Semnani,  September 12, 2013

George Packer’s Abstract Period



Leaving a great abstraction untouched is the practice of an investigator who’s already chosen sides, or so suggests Baffler senior editor Chris Lehmann in his review of New Yorker staff writer George Packer’s latest book, The Unwinding.

The review, published Thursday at The Nation online, will be published in the September 30 issue of the Nation magazine.

Packer’s latest tome is the story of America’s economic unraveling over the past few decades. The author uses several characters – from an assembly worker to a Treasury secretary – to paint the broad panoramic sweep of our nation’s recent economic face-palm. Lehmann gives Packer credit for crafting a work of compelling prose and for at least attempting narrative acrobatics that are reminiscent of John Dos Passos’s seminal work of fiction, U.S.A.. However, Packer falls down, in Lehmann’s estimation, by not kicking any sort of critical ass. Packer disappoints by not going out on a limb to name names and lay blame where blame is definitely due, and he does the reader a deep disservice by not rendering, in any real specific detail, the lives of those most affected by our nation’s economic implosion.

Read Lehmann’s review here.


Neda Semnani is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The Week, Los Angeles Review of BooksBuzzfeed, and others.

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