For more than a century, Wisconsin has been hailed as a “laboratory for democracy”: a bastion of progressive ideas and government, cradle of the labor and environmental movements, and birthplace of the famed Wisconsin Idea, which championed expertise in the service of the public good. But following a Republican sweep of its state government in 2010, Wisconsin’s state laws protecting voting rights, public health, the environment, and education were dismantled—and, in perhaps the biggest shock of the 2016 presidential election, the state went for Donald J. Trump. The Fall of Wisconsin is a deeply reported, riveting account of Wisconsin’s century-old progressive legacy and how the state became a testing ground for national conservatives bent on remaking American politics. Dan Kaufman, who has been reporting the story for years, reveals the “divide-and-conquer” strategy that Governor Scott Walker, Reince Priebus, and their allies designed for Wisconsin, which has become a blueprint nationwide. And he chronicles the remarkable efforts of citizens who continue to fight back, from local Democratic politicians exposing the role of dark money in the state, to the head of a Chippewa tribe battling an out- of- state mining company, to the ironworker Randy Bryce whose fight for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s seat is galvanizing national resistance to Trump.
“Through the microcosm of one state Dan Kaufman does a masterful job explaining what’s happened to America, and why. It’s not a happy tale, but it’s an important one.” - Jane Mayer
Dan Kaufman has written for The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. Originally from Wisconsin, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker Magazine and the author of five works of non-fiction, two novels, and a play. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America won the 2013 National Book Award. His new book, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, will be published next March by Knopf.