Nickel and Dimed
On (Not) Getting By in America
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Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.
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 int 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. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Not the whole story
A worthless read
Loved it! Absolutely fascinating!
Writer Tells It Like It Is
Unlike so many nonfiction books that outline the plight of the poor in the U.S., this author of this book took the time to show us just exactly how hard it is to exist on the minimum wage. She shows how hard it is to find and work a minimum wage job (she works several different jobs), find an affordable place to live, and buy enough meals to survive. And she shows how very, very hard it is. Yes, she doesn't show the other side (Wal-mart's or the other employer's.). But after reading this book, one wonders what excuse employers could have for paying people only enough income to keep their employees, effectively, in indentured servitude?
- Category: Social Science
- Published: Apr 01, 2010
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
- Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
- Print Length: 224 Pages
- Language: English