"No one can say when the unwinding began – when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometime stifling grip first gave way. Like any great change, the unwinding began at countless times, in countless ways – and at some moment the country, always the same country, crosses a line of history and became irretrievably different."
Packer’s first study is Dean Price who grew up in Madison, North Carolina. For me, this hit the bulls-eye of childhood memory. Madison is a short drive up Highway 220 from Greensboro.
Packer writes about Cone. I never worked there growing up, but every time I go down to Greensboro, I pass by where Cone used to be on the western part of the city near I-85. Places like Cone Mills provided steady paychecks. This was a time when workers felt pride for working for the same company decade after decade. Of course, they were taken advantage of but the company also gave back to the community.
The author also illuminates the story of Jeff Connaughton. He worked his butt off for Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who initially inspired him. But the realities of the politics and the Beltway bubble crushed his spirit.
Photo: Packer at Politics and Prose in June.