5 Ways to Catch Up on the Writing of Barbara Ehrenreich

Posted on September 7, 2022

by Eric P

The book that made Barbara Ehrenreich famous is the one that, you’d think, nobody needed to write. Nickel and Dimed asked the question: how does someone manage to pay bills and raise families and make ends meet while working low-wage jobs? Millions of Americans struggle to do just that, an editor might have responded; why don’t we ask one of them?

Instead, Ehrenreich went undercover as a waitress, a housekeeper, a Wal-Mart greeter. The short answer to her initial question – it ain’t easy – shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the detailed texture of her immersive reportage from underpaid America was revelatory and advanced the cause for higher wages.

Ehrenreich, who died September 1 at the age of 81, was always closely associated with the subjects of poverty and income inequality, but she wrote about lots of things and could be a contrarian: among the targets she attacks in her opinionated writings are health, wellness, positive thinking, and trying not to die. Conventional wisdom wasn’t her bag.