George Packer visits the Oxford Exchange to talk about The Unwinding

  • George Packer signing a copy of his new book at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa

"I would say Tampa is one of the main characters in the book," George Packer said in his opening comments last Friday night to an audience of about 50 people at the Oxford Exchange in downtown Tampa. "They're not just about one person. So I think of Tampa itself as being one of the characters in the book."

The book is The Unwinding: An Inner History of the new America, Packer's narrative of America throughout the past 35 years as seen through the eyes and voices of both ordinary people and public figures. It's been labeled by some reviewers as a reflection of the end of American exceptionalism, and life in the Tampa Bay region (referred to simply as "Tampa" in the book) is definitely prominent in this tale.

"I wanted in this book to create a big panoramic picture of America but also a very intimate one that would feel like reading a novel," Packer said before reading from the book's prologue. "The book is really about how the social contract that used to hold Americans together and offer some kind of foundation for the dreams of ordinary Americans has come undone in this past generation."