Bait and Switch

The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

Barbara Ehrenreich

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book

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The New York Times bestselling investigation into white-collar unemployment from “our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism”—The New York Times Book Review

Americans’ working lives are growing more precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by “middle-class” jobs are a thing of the past.

In Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich goes back undercover to explore another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with the plausible résumé of a professional “in transition,” she attempts to land a “middle-class” job. She submits to career coaching, personality testing, and EST-like boot camps, and attends job fairs, networking events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and—again and again—rejected.

Bait and Switch highlights the people who have done everything right—gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive résumés—yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster. There are few social supports for these newly disposable workers, Ehrenreich discovers, and little security even for those who have jobs. Worst of all, there is no honest reckoning with the inevitable consequences of the harsh new economy; rather, the jobless are persuaded that they have only themselves to blame.

Alternately hilarious and tragic, Bait and Switch, like the classic Nickel and Dimed, is a searing exposé of the cruel new reality in which we all now live.

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Because I’ve written a lot about poverty, I’m used to hearing from people in scary circumstances. An eviction notice has arrived. A child has been diagnosed with a serious illness and the health insurance has run out. The car has broken down and there’s no way to get to work. These are the routine emergencies that plague the chronically poor. But it struck me, starting in about 2002, that many such tales of hardship were coming from people who were once members in good standing of the middle class—college graduates and former occupants of midlevel white-collar positions.

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Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. The bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed goes back undercover to do for America's ailing middle class what she did for the working poor, and enters the world of the white-collar unemployed.

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About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing in the Streets and Blood Rites, among others. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She is the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Current Interest and ALA Notable Books for Nonfiction.  Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism. She lives and works in Florida.

Barbara Ehrenreich


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Available Formats and Book Details

Bait and Switch
The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
Barbara Ehrenreich


Quill Award - Nominee

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
July 2006
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805081244
ISBN10: 0805081240
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages

Unabridged Digital Audio

Unabridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
September 2005
Unabridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781593977313
ISBN10: 159397731X
Audio Run Time: 7:00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
July 2006
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429915700
ISBN10: 1429915706
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages

From The Publisher

Holt Paperbacks

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