Packer’s slim book, Last Best Hope, begins with patriotic despair ... 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 ... But Packer’s lens of analysis is economic.
National Book Award–winner Packer explains our current political tensions as the collision of four incompatible narratives about what makes the U.S. special ... To some extent, [Last Best Hope] answers questions about American identity that Packer posed in The Unwinding (2013). But Packer’s optimism has been rattled by four years of Trumpism and a botched response to COVID-19, and this book is both an argument and a plea.
... incisive, deftly argued ... Packer – who as well as contributing to the New Yorker and the Atlantic has edited collections of George Orwell’s essays – goes on to attempt something close to the ideological fables in Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four ... Despite imperial puffery, we may never have been the best, but we used to be better than this. Now we seem doomed to be last, and there’s no hope anywhere.