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Packer's Unwinding wraps up
a National Book Award

"At a black-tie dinner at Cipriani Wall Street," George Packer ’82 received a National Book Award last night for casting "a discerning eye on banks and Wall Street while tracing the painful dissolution of much of our economic infrastructure.”

Irony? The New York Times also reports that, "in keeping with tradition," the judges picked the winners earlier in the day "at a decadent lunch at the restaurant of their choosing."

Packer's nonfiction winner, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, interweaves portraits of ordinary Americans and celebrities like Jay-Z and Newt Gingrich to show how "seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers," the book award website says: "allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward."

Another Yale alum and fellow New Yorker writer, Jill Lepore ’95PhD, was a finalist in the same nonfiction category for her Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. The biography of Benjamin Franklin's sister is—like all of her scholarship—"about the danger and power of literacy," the Harvard historian tells an interviewer:

As a girl, I was taught . . . to knit, to spin, to sew, and to scrub. And to type, very fast—"so you can be a secretary.". . .

Saving for [college] required working endless hours, starting when I was a pretty little kid, actually. I spent a whole lot of my childhood scrubbing pots in restaurants and scrubbing sheets in hotels. . . . My father once faked my age on a work permit so I could sell shoes in a department store. I'd hide my books in the shoeboxes. "I Read as much as I Dare," Jane once wrote. I get that.

Filed under National Book Awards, George Packer, Jill Lepore
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