Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Doby Gabriel Thompson
Pub. Date: 12/29/2009
Publisher: Nation Books
What is it like to do the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona, and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxisnot
What is it like to do the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona, and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxisnot always successfullyas a bicycle delivery “boy” for an upscale Manhattan restaurant, and was fired from a flower shop by a boss who, he quickly realized, was nuts.
As one coworker explained, “These jobs make you old quick.” Back spasms occasionally keep Thompson in bed, where he suffers recurring nightmares involving iceberg lettuce and chicken carcasses. Combining personal narrative with investigative reporting, Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcementwhile telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants, and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.
- Nation Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
Part 1 Salad Days
January-March, Yuma, Arizona 1
Part 2 Speaking Quiché in the Heart of Dixie
June-August, Russellville, Alabama 97
Part 3 Flowers and Food
October-December, New York, New York 217
Readers' Group Questions 311
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I highly recommend this book it is an excellent true journey of what it is like today. This was an amazing eye-opener.
There's more than enough misinformation about immigrants and jobs. Thompson tells some compelling stories about what it's like to actually do the very labor intensive or repetitive task jobs (most) Americans don't want to do in some of the most basic industries in our country. I actually learned some new things, such as there's a Federal law regarding wages for agricultural workers that makes it very difficult for undocumented workers to have a negative effect on wages. For example, the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) in Arizona is $2.46 --higher-- than the Arizona minimum wage. It's a fast read, too. I finished it in about six hours.
This book gave a brand new perspective on the challenges people face in their quest of the American Dream. Most immigrants are not terrorists, but mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons looking to provide for their families; looking for a chance to find happiness, no different than our Founding Fathers and Ancestors.
Excellent book to show you what it is like to do these jobs. Best story is the lettuce picking in Yuma with the stories in NYC probably the weakest