Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal (Hardcover)

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Description


One of The New York Times's 100 notable books of 2021

"[George Packer's] account of America’s decline into destructive tribalism is always illuminating and often dazzling." —William Galston, The Washington Post

Acclaimed National Book Award-winning author George Packer diagnoses America’s descent into a failed state, and envisions a path toward overcoming our injustices, paralyses, and divides


In the year 2020, Americans suffered one rude blow after another to their health, livelihoods, and collective self-esteem. A ruthless pandemic, an inept and malign government response, polarizing protests, and an election marred by conspiracy theories left many citizens in despair about their country and its democratic experiment. With pitiless precision, the year exposed the nation’s underlying conditions—discredited elites, weakened institutions, blatant inequalities—and how difficult they are to remedy.

In Last Best Hope, George Packer traces the shocks back to their sources. He explores the four narratives that now dominate American life: Free America, which imagines a nation of separate individuals and serves the interests of corporations and the wealthy; Smart America, the world view of Silicon Valley and the professional elite; Real America, the white Christian nationalism of the heartland; and Just America, which sees citizens as members of identity groups that inflict or suffer oppression.

In lively and biting prose, Packer shows that none of these narratives can sustain a democracy. To point a more hopeful way forward, he looks for a common American identity and finds it in the passion for equality—the “hidden code”—that Americans of diverse persuasions have held for centuries. Today, we are challenged again to fight for equality and renew what Alexis de Tocqueville called “the art” of self-government. In its strong voice and trenchant analysis, Last Best Hope is an essential contribution to the literature of national renewal.

About the Author


George Packer is an award-winning author and staff writer at The Atlantic. His previous books include The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (winner of the National Book Award), The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, and Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century (winner of the Hitchens Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography). He is also the author of two novels and a play, and the editor of a two-volume edition of the essays of George Orwell.

Praise For…


"In 2021, almost nothing is harder to write than a fresh take on the multiple crises confronting post-Trump America. But with this sharp, short new book, that is exactly what George Packer has given us, confirming his place as one of our most valuable journalists . . . Packer’s courage [is] the closest we have to Orwell’s." —Charles Kaiser, The Guardian

"Like many public intellectuals who are worth reading, George Packer . . . [doesn't] toe a predictable line . . . Packer is at his best when he ties his thesis about Americans’ loss of the art of self-government to the inequality that he has covered extensively and intimately in his career as a journalist." —Emily Bazelon, The New York Times Book Review

"Packer has a story to tell about our decline, and he tells it well . . . Packer’s sharp portraits of [America's factions] are the heart of this book . . . [His] account of America’s decline into destructive tribalism is always illuminating and often dazzling." —William Galston, The Washington Post

“In the great tradition of Richard Hofstadter, but with a reporter’s eye, George Packer has given us a thoughtful and ultimately hopeful book about crisis and opportunity. Americans seeking to understand our current moment—which is to say, most Americans—will find much to profitably ponder in these pages.” —Jon Meacham, author of His Truth Is Marching On and The Soul of America

“George Packer has written a small but big book. The end of the pandemic should be pure joy, but the fact that a public health crisis deepened our divisions has weighed down our hearts. Is there anything that could glue us together as one people? Packer answers yes. And the case he makes in doing so provides the vaccine I have most wanted—hope.” —Atul Gawande, surgeon and author of Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto

“In Last Best Hope, George Packer retells the story of 2020, offering an original account of the fracturing of the country’s mind and suggesting how we might restore unity. Ranging from Tocqueville to Trump, this extended essay will provoke you to think harder about America’s past as well as America’s future.” —Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy and Gulag

“In the summer of 2020, America seemed to divide into two different nations. Anyone who observed the crack-up will cherish this flinty analysis, which offers new insights into how Americans from Frances Perkins to Bayard Rustin to those who stormed the U.S. Capitol have understood and defined freedom. The result is a clear-eyed explanation of how a progressive nation can be a unified one.” —John H. McWhorter, professor of linguistics at Columbia University, contributing editor at The Atlantic, and host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374603663
ISBN-10: 0374603669
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Pages: 240
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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