Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

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Henry Holt and Company, Apr 1, 2010 - Social Science - 224 pages
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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 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. 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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User Review  - AngelaLam - LibraryThing

An intimate analysis of the working poor told from the point-of-view of an undercover journalist who attempted to live and work for minimum wages in three locations in the United States for three ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Charon07 - LibraryThing

No big surprises here, but still a horrifying look at the problem of the working poor in America. After going "undercover" as an unskilled worker, Ehrenreich discovers that it's just about impossible ... Read full review

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Contents

Getting Ready
1
One Serving in Florida
11
Two Scrubbing in Maine
51
Three Selling in Minnesota
121
Evaluation
193
Nickel and Dimed
223
A Readers Guide
241
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

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.

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