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Our downturn

George Packer’s new book unconsciously exposes the failings of American liberalism

By Adam Kirsch   August 2013

Union men picketing Macy’s department store, New York in 1936 © Dorothea Lange

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer (Faber, £20)

In 2008, America and the world came closer to a Great Depression than at any moment since 1929. But where the 1930s produced some of the most cherished works of 20th century Americana—Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath and the photographs of Walker Percy and Dorothea Lange, for instance—our Great Recession, as it’s come to be called, has not produced any comparable outpouring of…

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