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George Packer

We can learn from this generation’s successes and failures—and use that knowledge to rebuild.

Bestselling Author of The Unwinding and Our Man | The Atlantic Staff Writer

Contact George For Booking
George Packer | Bestselling Author of The Unwinding and Our Man | The Atlantic Staff Writer
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

No one understands the diverse, vibrant, and conflicted American tapestry quite like George Packer. A sterling journalist and National Book Award-winning author, Packer’s New York Times bestselling book, The Unwinding, and now Our Man, offer sweeping analyses of America through the lens of political figures and landmark historical moments. “If you could read only one book to comprehend America’s foreign policy and its quixotic forays into quicksands over the past 50 years, this would be it,” says Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson in his glowing New York Times Book Review cover story. Packer’s gripping keynotes are no different.

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the Times chose George Packer’s The Unwinding as a key book “To Help You Understand Trump’s Win.” Now Packer’s notion of ‘unwinding’—the rise of populism, institutional collapse, and the unraveling of the American Dream—is more bracingly relevant than ever. His new book, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century—being hailed as a complex depiction of a nation in global crisis—is a vivid saga of the ambition, idealism, and hubris of Richard Holbrooke, one of the most legendary and complicated figures in recent American history. The Times says “Our Man not only revitalizes but in some ways reinvents the art of journalistic biography.” In talks drawn from his lucid yet optimistic reporting, Packer offers a deeply informative perspective for anyone seeking to comprehend the political and cultural forces making the country what it is today—and how it affects us in ways we could never have predicted.

 

“[The Unwinding] is an epic—wondrous, bracing, and true—that will stand as the defining book of our time.”

— Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War

Currently a staff writer with The Atlantic, and formerly a staff writer at The New Yorker, Packer’s National Book Award-winning The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, was called a “professional work of journalism that also happens to be more intimate and textured—and certainly more ambitious—than most contemporary works of U.S. fiction dare to be” by The Los Angeles Times. In it, Packer explores his vast and varied knowledge of America throughout history, showing why things happened the way they did, and what we can do to help create a more equitable nation when so much infrastructure and justice-minded guidance is lacking. In 2019, Slate named The Unwinding one of the Top 50 Nonfiction Titles of the Past 25 Years”.

 

Packer has published four other works of non-fiction: The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq; Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade; Blood of the Liberals; and The Village of Waiting. He is also the author of two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and a play, Betrayed. He is the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World, and of a two-volume edition of George Orwell’s essays. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.   

Testimonials

“Our event last night was an over-the-top success. George drew an impressively large crowd; his talk was outstanding; my computer this morning was jammed with congratulatory e-mails. Last night ranks as one of our best events ever.”

University of Missouri

Speech Topics

Politics & Society
America Today A Collapsing, Changing Nation
Why is America in danger of coming apart at the seams? Why are elites no longer elite, institutions no longer functioning, and ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success? George Packer, author of New York Times bestseller and National Book Award winner The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, creates an intimate, documentary-style portrait of America today. He maintains that there’s been an undoing of the deal that used to exist between Americans: if you work hard and do your part, there will be a place for you and your children in the nation. In the last generation, this has begun to come apart. More and more people now feel they have to go their own way: for some people this has been a good thing, for others it’s been destabilizing and even devastating.

Drawing from extensive research and first-hand “method” investigation, Packer weaves together stories from America’s centers of power and its forgotten places. He takes audiences on a journey through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; and Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money. And, he warns audiences that we are getting closer to the America of The Great Gatsby—of life lived through the people at the top, through celebrities and their stories. What is the future of our fractured, collapsing nation? What can we learn from this generation’s successes and failures? Packer presents a profoundly moving and utterly original perspective on what it feels like to be alive and in America at this moment.