cover image Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury

Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury

Evan Osnos. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-0-374-28667-5

Inequalities of wealth, class, and culture are tearing the country apart, according to this incisive panorama of America’s discontents. New Yorker writer Osnos (Joe Biden) conducts a loose survey of socio-politics from 9/11 to the January 6 Capitol riot, grounded in journalistic portraits of three places where he’s lived: Greenwich, Conn., where corrupt Wall Street plutocrats live on the profits from hollowing out the heartland’s economy; Clarksburg, W.Va., in an Appalachia floundering in opioid abuse and Trumpian white identity politics; and Chicago, where the South and West sides are awash in poverty and gang violence, a world away from that city’s glittering downtown. These locales represent, Osnos contends, a country fragmented by mutual incomprehension, conspiracy theories, and a “combat mindset,” where people have “lost their vision for the common good.” Osnos vividly sketches hedge-fund managers, ex-cons, Barack Obama, and white nationalist Richard Spencer, among others, and encapsulates worldviews in elegant, pithy prose. (“You could hone every edge of your family’s life—from your life expectancy to your tax avoidance to your child’s performance on the SATs,” he writes of the Greenwich gentry.) The result is an engrossing and revealing look at how deeply connected yet far apart Americans are. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Sept.)