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Don

Bellevue, WA, United States

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

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Barbara Ehrenreich
    • Narrated By Cristine McMurdo-Wallis
    Overall
    (599)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (157)

    This engrossing piece of undercover reportage has been a fixture on the New York Times best seller list since its publication. With nearly a million copies in print, Nickel and Dimed is a modern classic that deftly portrays the plight of America's working-class poor.

    Melissa says: "of COURSE she has an agenda..."
    "This could have been better"
    Overall

    Other reviewers have summarized the premise and the topic, so I won't. This book starts with promise and ends disappointingly. I don't mean the slightly pontificating style, but rather in substance. Two comments to highlight what I mean:

    1. To protect their identities, she hides the identities of her ex-co-workers and their employers (except Wal-Mart). You can tell that she feels for her ex-co-workers and the fact that they are being exploited by management. But the things she describes are often violations of labor law, sometimes even criminal offences. She could improve their lives by lending her name and credibility to a class action lawsuit. She wouldn't have to worry about repurcussions, because she's the ideal witness - she doesn't need the job! But instead, she refuses to go the extra mile and actually do something.

    2. Compare the "being a maid" chapter, where she rips on rich people for leaving their stuff lying around, refusing to lift a finger to help themselves, etc. with the "working at Wal-Mart" chapter, where she doesn't rip on customers who leave their stuff lying around, don't lift a finger to help themselves, etc. There's a double-standard that detracts from the book: she wants to show that rich people who benefit from service-sector employees are evil, but refuses to acknowledge that *everyone* takes advantage of service-sector employees. There's an interesting issue there. She doesn't see it, or refuses to follow it. I can't tell which.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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