Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America

Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America

by Eyal Press
Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America

Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America

by Eyal Press


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Winner of the 2022 Hillman Prize for Book Journalism

A groundbreaking, urgent report from the front lines of "dirty work"—the work that society considers essential but morally compromised

Drone pilots who carry out targeted assassinations. Undocumented immigrants who man the “kill floors” of industrial slaughterhouses. Guards who patrol the wards of the United States’ most violent and abusive prisons. In Dirty Work, Eyal Press offers a paradigm-shifting view of the moral landscape of contemporary America through the stories of people who perform society’s most ethically troubling jobs. As Press shows, we are increasingly shielded and distanced from an array of morally questionable activities that other, less privileged people perform in our name.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn unprecedented attention to essential workers, and to the health and safety risks to which workers in prisons and slaughterhouses are exposed. But Dirty Work examines a less familiar set of occupational hazards: psychological and emotional hardships such as stigma, shame, PTSD, and moral injury. These burdens fall disproportionately on low-income workers, undocumented immigrants, women, and people of color.

Illuminating the moving, sometimes harrowing stories of the people doing society’s dirty work, and incisively examining the structures of power and complicity that shape their lives, Press reveals fundamental truths about the moral dimensions of work and the hidden costs of inequality in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374140182
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 08/17/2021
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,145,484
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Eyal Press is an author and a journalist based in New York. The recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, an Andrew Carnegie fellowship, a Cullman Center fellowship at the New York Public Library, and a Puffin Foundation fellowship at Type Media Center, he is a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times, and numerous other publications. He is the author of Beautiful Souls and Absolute Convictions.

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Part I Behind the Walls

1 Dual Loyalties 19

2 The Other Prisoners 47

3 Civilized Punishment 75

Part II Behind the Screens

4 Joystick Warriors 99

5 The Other 1 Percent 125

Part III On the Kill Floors

6 Shadow People 155

7 "Essential Workers" 187

Part IV The Metabolism of the Modern World

8 Dirty Energy 211

9 Dirty Tech 241

Epilogue 265

Notes 271

Acknowledgments 285

Index 287

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