Magazine article The Progressive

There Is Nothing That Gets My Enthusiasm Meter as High as Good Reporting, and Here Are Three Books That Push the Needle

Magazine article The Progressive

There Is Nothing That Gets My Enthusiasm Meter as High as Good Reporting, and Here Are Three Books That Push the Needle

Article excerpt

There is nothing that gets my enthusiasm meter as high as good reporting, and here are three books that push the needle. New Yorker writer George Packer has redeemed himself after his support of the Iraq War by weaving a superb account of where the United States is at this moment. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) chronicles the fortunes of individuals famous (Oprah Winfrey, Newt Gingrich) as well as the not so famous, with a city (Tampa) thrown in for good measure. Drawing his inspiration from John Dos Passos's USA trilogy, Packer constructs a fascinatingly complicated tale of how the American social contract unraveled.

"When the norms that made the old institutions useful began to unwind and the leaders abandoned their posts, the Roosevelt Republic that had reigned for almost half a century came undone," Packer writes. "The void was filled by the default force in American life, organized money."

AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman have expanded their Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims into a book, Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Spying Unit and Bin Laden's Final Plot Against America (Touchstone), and the result is well worth reading. (It's hard for a book to go wrong that starts off with an epigraph from Voltaire: "Beware of the words internal security for they are the eternal cry of the oppressor.") A major thread of the book focuses on Najibullah Zazi, a young Afghan immigrant wannabe terrorist. …

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