A requiem for the American Dream | September 20, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

- September 20, 2013

A requiem for the American Dream

George Packer offers vivid snapshots of a changing nation

by Gennady Sheyner

There's no sign of Normal Rockwell in George Packer's America: no turkeys carved, no carols sung, no smiling dads or sizzling logs. Instead, Packer's new book, "The Unwinding," gives us tales of abandoned factories, broken families, Beltway lobbyists, wilting Florida subdivisions and blue-collar Americans struggling to keep their heads above the quicksands of poverty, bankruptcy and crime.

This story contains 1729 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.


Posted by Deutscherin, a resident of Stanford
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

A German friend of mind recently said that this period in history has a correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire fell, there was chaos everywhere, because the Romans were the world police of their time.

Now that the American Empire is falling, the same thing is happening, for the same reason

Posted by artbuilder, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

i read this and its great
by telling the story through the voices of individual americans
it became very interesting to read of an otherwise downwardly trajectory
now that i know the authors local roots i recommend it even more

capitalism has had its way with our democracy
without a middle class even the 1% are headed for trouble

we need to use the internet to take back the power and recreate opportunity for americans

Posted by Diogenes, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Sep 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I disagree with the eighth paragraph from the bottom in this piece: Becoming a "community organizer" is not "a structure". It is trying to build a structure where there is none. And certainly it is not the equal of the labor union structure that unravelled under Tammy Thomas' feet. As for Connaughton, filing for bankruptcy does make one feel "alone" and it is not true of everyone in his "class of Washingtonians", unless they are also filing for bankruptcy.

Apart from this clear disagreement, a very good review. As for Thiel, what more does one need to say than he is a follower of the ideas on Ayn Rand and Ron Paul, people who love to talk but hate to think. What could make Packer's point better than his including Thiel and his ideas in this book. If Thiel is an intellectual leader because of his money, then so are the oil sheiks of the Middle East and the Russian Oligarchs.

Posted by Renee, a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I am a member of Numbers USA and they have very carefully documented that two thirds of the jobs created in this country since 2009 have gone to immigrants with less than 6 years in this country while 23% of our own citizens go unemployed or working only part time when they want full time jobs. In the meantime, organization like Facebook refuse to hire anyone over 35 years of age (the median employee age at Facebook is 26) and yet still insist they need more immmigrant employees. Time for everyone unemployed and/or over the age of 35 to boycott Facebook.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

@Renee, good luck with that. My alumni groups are using Facebook to organize 35 and 40 year reunions now. FB share price has doubled since July. And it stands to reason that any company bent on world domination will need to hire immigrants who speak the languages and know the cultures of those far flung corners of the world.