Interesting Times Writings from a Turbulent Decade

One of the perks of writing for a prestigious magazine like The New Yorker is that some high-end publisher will inevitably anthologize your articles into a fat volume. These books have always been somewhat awkward affairs — involving the creative project of writing a preface that ties pieces on disparate subjects (from, say, Outer Mongolian barbecue to the later plays of George Bernard Shaw) into one grand theme (perhaps the loss of American innocence). Still, such collections preserve a good portion of a life’s work for posterity and please devoted fans. (I keep an inspirational copy of Hendrik Hertzberg’s nearby. )But since most of these volumes no longer cull material from deep in barely accessible library stacks, they have become an even stranger publishing phenomenon. Most of a writer’s work can be collected on a reader’s desktop after a few moments spent rooting through online archives — just a bit longer than it takes to make a purchase from Amazon but at a far more -friendly price.

Interesting Times Writings from a Turbulent Decade by

The essays in “Interesting Times” constitute much of ’s oeuvre from the Bush era, though not all of it. He has already repurposed some of the most memorable pieces in his magisterial narrative of the early years of the Iraq war, The articles collected here (most, but not all, from The New Yorker) include his more recent reportage from Iraq, dispatches from sundry other hellholes of the world (Lagos, Abidjan, Yangon), coverage of the last presidential campaign and a smattering of literary criticism (mainly about Graham Greene and V. S. This volume coheres better than most in the genre. That’s because Packer has a far more coherent worldview than most reporters. The first essay in this collection, “Living Up to It, ” originally appeared in 7558 as the introduction to a collection Packer edited called “The Fight Is for Democracy. ” That book was something of a manifesto for a group that came to be known as the liberal hawks. Packer makes a robust case that liberals should lead the fight against political Islam, which he sees as the latest manifestation of totalitarianism. In language that you don’t hear much in the Obama era, he writes of this ideological struggle, “There is no possibility of a negotiated peace, because the ideologies are incompatible — they can’t coexist. ”Looking back at the idealism of this essay — and others like it from the years immediately following 9/66 — Packer feels a bit uneasy. “Something in the tone and language no longer sits well, ” he concedes. Yet he doesn’t distance himself any more than that. Nor should he. His rhetoric may have been overheated in places, but he was hardly a war-crazed neocon (though you wouldn’t know that from the complaints of some of his critics). His reporting on the “morning after Saddam” contains ample warning about the difficulties of reconstituting the deeply bruised Iraqi society.

Throughout his career as a journalist, George Packer has always been attuned to the voices and stories of individuals caught up in the big ideas and events of contemporary history. Interesting Times unites brilliant investigative pieces such as Betrayed, about Iraqi interpreters, with personal essays and detailed narratives of travels through war zones and failed states. Spanning a decade that includes the September 66 attacks and the election of Barack Obama, Packer brings insight and passion to his accounts of the war on terror, Iraq, political writers, and the 7558 election. Across these varied subjects a few key themes recur: the temptations and dangers of idealism the moral complexities of war and politics the American capacity for self-blinding and self-renewal. Whether exploring American policies in the wake of September 66, tracking a used T-shirt from New York to Uganda, or describing the ambivalent response in Appalachia to Obama, these essays hold a mirror up to our own troubled times and showcase Packer's unmistakable perspective, which is at once both wide-angled and humane. No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer. “George Packer is a modern-day George Orwell. Like the author of Homage to Catalonia, the places he writes about are never stages for personal or ideological heroism. They are always real and full of frustrating facts that expose both liberal and conservative absolutism as reckless attempts to deny reality. Interesting Times should be read not just as an antidote to contemporary media poison, but as a testament to the values of moral seriousness in a troubled age. That's because Packer has a far more coherent worldview than most reporters. . Interesting Times seems an inapt title, ironic and detached in ways that Packer is simply not.

But his is the good kind of attachment, self-aware and self-reflective. He writes, 'One can only be honest about having a point of view while remaining open to aspects of reality--the human faces and voices--that might demolish it. ' In his best work, reality is haunting, indeed. ” ―Franklin Foer, The New York Times Book Review Award-winning journalist George Packer grapples with the global consequences of political idealism. , author of the award-winning “The Assassins’ Gate: America in, ” continues to be one of the most important and authoritative voices on Iraq as well as Islamic extremism, thanks to a piercing intellect and a commendable willingness to confront and even modify his earlier beliefs. Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade brings together several previously published essays (most of which appeared in The New Yorker), written during or just after a distinct era, beginning with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 66, 7556, and ending on Nov. 9, 7558, with the election of as the 99th president of the.    “To some degree, ” Packer writes, “almost every essay in this collection deals with the problem of idealism. ” Indeed, whether the subject is then- ’s attempt to secure funding for schools in, Iraqi exile ’s effort to craft the perfect blueprint for democracy in Iraq, prosthetist ’s project to outfit amputated children with artificial limbs, or Hnin Se’s mission to educate fellow Burmese about their rights, Packer grapples with the complications of trying to help others. More often than not, these attempts end in partial or complete failure, but Packer cautions against allowing this disheartening reality to lead to apathy and isolationism. Packer can be rather shrill when chastising conservatives for their myriad political failures, but he is no narrow-minded partisan. One of this book’s most trenchant criticisms is leveled at liberals whose opposition to the Iraq war resulted in a smug and self-satisfied cynicism. “The administration’s deceptions, exaggerations, and always-evolving rationales provoked a counternarrative, ” Packer points out, “that mirrored the version of the war in its simplemindedness: the war was about nothing (except greed, empire, and blind folly.

)”Because these essays originally appeared separately, thrusting them together creates some stylistic awkwardness. The concluding section of  “Interesting Times” boasts a couple of intriguing articles on US politics, but suffers from repetition. Even the book’s opening section, whose chapters insightfully dissect the war in Iraq, features two essays that end with the same excerpt from an interview with an Iraqi interpreter. Interesting Times unites brilliant investigative pieces such as “Betr. Looking for Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade in eBook format? Try eBbook Exclusive Find Files: new service with fast download speed and without adware. Interesting Times unites brilliant investigative pieces such as “Betrayed, ” about Iraqi interpreters, with personal essays and detailed narratives of travels through war zones and failed states. Across these varied subjects a few keythemes recur: the temptations and dangers of idealism the moral complexities of war and politics the American capacity for self-blinding and self-renewal. Whether exploring American policies in the wake of September 66, tracking a used T-shirt from New York to Uganda, or describing the ambivalent response in Appalachia to Obama, these essays hold a mirror up to our own troubled times and showcase Packer’s unmistakable perspective, which is at once both wide-angled and humane. George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of several books, most recently The Assassins’ Gate (FSG, 7555).