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Nickel and Dimed (20th Anniversary Edition)

Nickel and Dimed (20th Anniversary Edition)

On (Not) Getting By in America

Barbara Ehrenreich

Picador

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The New York Times bestselling work of undercover reportage from our sharpest and most original social critic, with a new foreword by Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?

To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity—a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. And now, in a new foreword, Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, explains why, t… More…

The New York Times bestselling work of undercover reportage from our sharpest and most original social critic, with a new foreword by Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?

To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity—a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. And now, in a new foreword, Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, explains why, twenty years on in America, Nickel and Dimed is more relevant than ever.

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ALA Alex Awards Winner (Adult for Young Adults), Christopher Awards - Winner, YALSA-College Bound /Lifelong Learners, Book Sense Book of the Year Award - Nominee, L.A. Times Book Prize - Winner, Christopher Awards - Nominee

Introduction: Getting Ready

The idea that led to this book arose in comparatively sumptuous circumstances. Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper’s, had taken me out for a $30 lunch at some understated French country-style place to discuss...

Praise for Nickel and Dimed (20th Anniversary Edition)

“Captivating . . . promise that you will read this explosive little book cover to cover and pass it on to all your friends and relatives.” —The New York Times

“Impassioned, fascinating, profoundly significant, and wildly entertaining . . . Nickel and Dimed is not only important but transformative in its insistence that we take a long hard look at the society we live in.” —Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Valuable and illuminating . . . Barbara Ehrenreich is our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Jarring . . . fully of riveting grit . . . this book is already unforgettable.” —The New York Times

“Barbara Ehrenreich is smart, provocative, funny, and sane in a world that needs more of all four.” —Diane Sawyer

“Reading Ehrenreich is good for the soul.” —Molly Ivins

“Ehrenreich is passionate, public, hotly lucid, and politically engaged.” —Chicago Tribune

“Ehrenreich's scorn withers, her humor stings, and her radical light shines on.” —The Boston Globe

“One of today's most original writers.” —The New York Times

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Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing In The Streets, and Blood Rites. A frequent contributor to Harper's, The Nation, The New York Times and Time magazine, she lives in Virginia.

image of Barbara Ehrenreicho
Sigrid Estrada

Picador

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