• Wildland

  • The Making of America's Fury
  • By: Evan Osnos
  • Narrated by: Evan Osnos
  • Length: 17 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (343 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

"Evan Osnos compassionately shares his extensive research on the crumbling of American democracy, civility, and equality. Listeners join him as he visits three diverse places he has lived: wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut; segregated Chicago; and coal-mining Clarksburg, West Virginia." (AudioFile)

"One of the books of the year.... Wildland by The New Yorker's Evan Osnos draws the backstory to America's rage through deep reporting and 'thousands of hours of conversations' in three places he lived before DC." (Axios)

After a decade abroad, the National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Evan Osnos returns to three places he has lived in the United States - Greenwich, CT; Clarksburg, WV; and Chicago, IL - to illuminate the origins of America’s political fury.

Evan Osnos moved to Washington, DC, in 2013 after a decade away from the United States, first as the Beijing bureau chief at the Chicago Tribune and then as the China correspondent for The New Yorker. While abroad, he often found himself making a case for America, urging the citizens of Egypt, Iraq, or China to trust that even though America had made grave mistakes throughout its history, it aspired to some foundational moral commitments - the rule of law, the power of truth, the right of equal opportunity for all. But when he returned to the United States, he found each of these principles under assault.

In search of an explanation for the crisis that reached an unsettling crescendo in 2020 - a year of pandemic, civil unrest, and political turmoil - he focused on three places he knew firsthand: Greenwich, Connecticut; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Chicago, Illinois. Reported over the course of six years, Wildland follows ordinary individuals as they navigate the varied landscapes of 21st-century America. Through their powerful, often poignant stories, Osnos traces the sources of America’s political dissolution. He finds answers in the rightward shift of the financial elite in Greenwich; in the collapse of social infrastructure and possibility in Clarksburg; and in the compounded effects of segregation and violence in Chicago. The truth about the state of the nation may be found not in the slogans of political leaders but in the intricate details of individual lives, and in the hidden connections between them. As Wildland weaves in and out of these personal stories, events in Washington occasionally intrude, like flames licking up on the horizon.

A dramatic, prescient examination of seismic changes in American politics and culture, Wildland is the story of a crucible, a period bounded by two shocks to America’s psyche, two assaults on the country’s sense of itself: the attacks of September 11th in 2001 and the storming of the US Capitol, on January 6th, 2021. Following the lives of everyday Americans, in three cities, across two decades, Osnos illuminates the country in a startling light. revealing how we lost the moral confidence to see ourselves as larger than the sum of our parts. 

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Evan Osnos (P)2021 Macmillan Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, 2021

L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist, 2022

"Stellar reporting. ... As an overview of a fractious ideological landscape, this skillful treatment is hard to beat. An elegant survey of the causes and effects of polarization in America." (Kirkus, starred review)  

"Incisive. ... An engrossing and revealing look at how deeply connected yet far apart Americans are." (Publishers Weekly) 

"Through clear, engrossing writing, [Evan Osnos] gives shape to the past 20 years." (Christopher Borrelli, The Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about Wildland

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

More of a painting than analysis

What I felt lacking in this book may be exactly what some will appreciate most. The author uses his unique perspective as a recently returning American from years abroad to paint several vignettes to explain of how far his homeland, by 2013 when he returned, had descended into bitter political division. The writing and performance, both by the author, are excellent as description. The vivid details of many of the characters in these vignettes attest to hours of interviews and patient studies of their lives for which the author is to be commended.

Mr Osnos undoubtedly has a broad base of knowledge of American history based on the many historical facts and references sprinkled throughout the work. However, the work overall doesn’t seem to add to much more than an impressionist’s painting our country’s woefully divided condition.

Full disclosure demands that I admit, I have written this review after skipping several of the later chapters, hoping for a summation in the final 2 chapters which would compel me to go back and reread and pick up the the ones I missed. But in the absence of any conclusions or prescription that seemed to require any supporting justifications, I will leave my bookmark where it is.

6 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, albeit sad, recounting of modern day America

This book is a terrific expose of modern day America. By “profiling” three very different places, Osnos illuminated the systemic fault lines in our society. The way the author weaved in his personal history was masterful and kept me engaged as the story weaved through the past decade of American political history. This book reminded me a lot of George Packer’s The Unwinding. If you liked that book, I recommend this one too. The one downside is the stark reminder that there is perhaps no solution to our problems. Osnos closes with some vague references to our communities and hope in the future; but it is not very concrete. Then again, perhaps there is no concrete solution to our current divisions. Highly recommend this book!

4 people found this helpful

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Knowing what you are struggling against, helps!

It’s something to hear plainly and with full supporting evidence the things you intrinsically understand must be happening and must have happened, to move us to this point of great discontent in America. I once read interviews of slaves in America where some said they often considered poor whites in the south to be even below them, based on the degraded situation in which poor white families lived. America has had its heel on the neck of blacks and poor whites for most of its existence. For blacks it was never denied, poor whites experiencing the same seem never sure what or whom they were struggling against, that is crazy making.

3 people found this helpful

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fantastic

beautifully written
compelling selection of stories to illustrate each point. highly recommend to anyone who wants a richer look at what the hell is going on

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You can't get more descriptive than this.

This my second book by Evan Osnos. The first was so good that I bought this one on name alone. It did not disappoint. The facts are laid out plain and simple. It should be required reading for all high school and college students.

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Cover too many issues. Break into Segments

Good but should have been broken into segments by time, issue location. Your insights are excellent. Well done. Charlie, Chicago

1 person found this helpful

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Extraordinary

Without hesitation, this the finest analysis of the 2017 to 2021 U.S. sociopolitical history as yet written. It is not about Trump as much as it is about the unhinged reality of those years that emerged from Trump’s leaving behind what is yet to be left behind. All told using the author’s West Virginia background as a backdrop. The author’s Audible narration is superb.

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Tracing 20 year buildup of Anger/Fury



Very "listenable" if disturbing book. Well researched. Detailing the viewpoint of the 'buildup of America's fury' from several geographies and vantage points.

My basic understanding relates to a series of incidents 09/11/2001, wars that weren't successes in the Mid-East, The Bailouts during the 2008-2009 challenges - which saw the rise of the Tea Party; the widespread use of social media - the casting of the opposition as 'vile/evil/satan worshiping pedophiles' (and an existential threat - deserving to be eliminated)- the distribution of political statement each with its more outrageous claims that either go unchallenged or just get believed by 'the side'. The maximalist extremists dominate the conversation. This has taken approximately twenty years for this "poison" to flow through the body politic; unsure how the American Body Politic recovers.

Osnos paints a picture of where we were/are relating to Tribalism, Cynicism and the increase in the belief (by some) that "violence may be justified" in furtherance of a political cause.

He ends this after Jan 6, 2022 attack.

Osnos describes the problem - I didn't read many proposed solutions (in truth he never indicated he would advance them). But that seems to be where "Political America" is win at all costs; by any means necessary including violence.

I would recommend this book - as it describes a very major problem the United States has today - the absolute 'take away' from me is one fact.......roughly paraphrasing...."During the recent election approximately 160 families gave approximately 50% of the contribution funds given....." Osnos' interpretation of that is that the United States, by validating this campaign financing model, has become a ...."Banana Republic...." . My own opinion is that we have the best U.S. Congress that "money can buy" - and we're reaping the rewards of that system.

Perhaps change - but just short of a blood revolution [see French and Russian Revolutions and what really happened versus the stated goals when they began] might be either appropriate or might be 'in the cards'.

Should be of interest to those who follow current events, politics.

Carl Gallozzi

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Very engaging

Tore through the whole book in three days, compelling anecdotes blended with good data make this book both an engaging narrative and an informative research piece.

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incredibly moving

Loved this book! the way it was told, the points it's drives home and the narrators voice. This book reads like a fiction, it was easy to follow the story and understand. It gives you a behind the scenes look as to how people can say or do some of the things they do.

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