From the Publisher
“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.” Francise 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
“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
“Barbara Ehrenreich is smart, provocative, funny, and sane in a world that needs more of all four.” Diane Sawyer
In contrast to recent books by Michael Lewis and Dinesh D'Souza that explore the lives and psyches of the New Economy's millionares, Ehrenreich (Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class) turns her gimlet eye on the view from the workforce's bottom rung. Determined to find out how anyone could make ends meet on $7 an hour, she left behind her middle class life as a journalist—except for $1000 in start-up funds, a car and her laptop computer—to try to sustain herself as a low-skilled worker for a month at a time. In 1999 and 2000, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress in Key West, Fla., as a cleaning woman and a nursing home aide in Portland, Maine, and in a Wal-Mart in Minneapolis, Minn.
During the application process, she faced routine drug tests and spurious
"personality tests"; once on the job, she endured constant surveillance and
numbing harangues over infractions like serving a second roll and butter. Beset
by transportation costs and high rents, she learned the tricks of the trade from
her co-workers, some of whom sleep in their cars, and many of whom work when they're vexed by arthritis, back pain or worse, yet still manage small gestures of kindness. Despite the advantages of her race, education, good health and lack of children, Ehrenreich's income barely covered her month's expenses in only one instance, when she worked seven days a week at two jobs (one of which provided free meals) during the off-season in a vacation town. Delivering a fast read that's both sobering and sassy, she gives readers pause about those caught in the economy's undertow, even in good times.