Fri, 29 January 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT

The Unravelling of America

Wade Davis

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No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise. As COVID reduces to tatters the illusion of US exceptionalism, anthropologist Wade Davis tells the story of the American century.

Like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, or the ascent of Adolph Hitler in 1933, the COVID pandemic will be remembered as a moment that shifted the course of history.

The reputation and international standing of the United States is in tatters. With more 2000 people a day dying at the height of the crisis, Americans found themselves living in a failed state; their dysfunctional government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

In this talk, award-winning anthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Wade Davis will tell the story of the nation’s astonishing rise to the status of global superpower.

From its astonishing emergence as “the arsenal of democracy” in WWII – during which a single Detroit factory produced more tanks than the entire Third Reich – and through the boom in living standards that followed, to the nation’s present day malaise of inequality, atomisation and populism, Wade will bring an anthropologist’s clarity of perspective and a storyteller’s eloquence to bear on the most important story of the 20th century.

The end of American exceptionalism and the passing of the torch to China is no occasion for celebration, no time to gloat. American ideals, as celebrated by Madison and Monroe, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy, at one time inspired and gave hope to millions. Soon we may long for the best years of the American century: do not miss this elegy by one of the most renowned and accomplished scholars of our time.

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Wade Davis

Award-winning writer, anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

Wade Davis is a multi award-winning writer, anthropologist, explorer and acclaimed photographer, his work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. He is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, and Into the Silence, which was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize, and currently holds the post of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.