Evan osnos – wildland

Many Americans know exactly how their society ended up in its current state of dysfunction and division: it’s all thanks to the Other Party, and the irresponsibility or evil of its politicians and voters. But there are also those with no clear theory of what went wrong. Many middle-aged political moderates, for instance, spent the Trump years looking around, in forlorn bafflement, for the country they thought they knew – for what Evan Osnos, in Wildland: The making of America’s fury, refers to as “America’s basic talent” for democracy, now apparently lost.

Was that talent always somewhat mythical? Was there ever really a non-furious time? America has always been a violent place and can claim to have been a democracy since only 1965, when the Voting Rights Act became law. Osnos focuses on the period since then, and especially on the past twenty years. He chooses three places he knows intimately for “a slower, deeper kind of questioning”: the part of suburban Greenwich, Connecticut, where he grew up, which later became a colony of ultra-wealthy hedge fund managers; and the impoverished districts of West Virginia and Chicago where he worked as a journalist early in his career. In a book rich with local history, sociological data and detailed portraits of people from various walks of life, he charts the steady, stealthy and relatively recent corrosion of democratic faculties…

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