Bait and Switch

The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

Barbara Ehrenreich

Metropolitan Books

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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

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage workers. Now, in Bait and Switch, she enters another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with a plausible résumé of a professional “in transition,” she attempts to land a middle-class job—undergoing career coaching and personality testing, then trawling a series of EST-like boot camps, job fairs, networking events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She gets an image makeover, works to project a winning attitude, yet is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and—again and again—rejected.

Bait and Switch highlights the people who’ve done everything right—gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive résumés—yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster, and not simply due to the vagaries of the business cycle. Today’s ultra-lean corporations take pride in shedding their “surplus” employees—plunging them, for months or years at a stretch, into the twilight zone of white-collar unemployment, where job searching becomes a full-time job in itself. As Ehrenreich discovers, there are few social supports for these newly disposable workers—and little security even for those who have jobs.

Like the now classic Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch is alternately hilarious and tragic, a searing exposé of economic cruelty where we least expect it.

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There’s all sorts of useful information being offered, which I struggle to commit to my notebook. Ask people to give you their contacts, and when they do, write them thank you notes by hand, on nice stationary. Get a fountain pen;
ballpoint won’t do. If you can’t get a real interview, at least ask for a 20 minute “contact interview” aimed at prying contacts out of people. Write to executives who are profiled in business publications and tell them what their company needs at this stage, which is, of course, you. Tell them how you’re going to “add value”

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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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Praise for Bait and Switch

Praise for Nickel and Dimed:
“We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America’s working poor so clearly and directly, and
conveying with it a deep moral outrage . . . She is our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Jarring, full of riveting grit . . . This book is already
unforgettable.” —Newsweek

“Courageous . . . a superb and frightening look into the lives of hard-working Americans.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed (0-8050-6389-7). A frequent contributor to Harper’s and The Nation, she has been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She lives in Virginia.

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

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

Unabridged Digital Audio

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

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

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