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

Written by:
Barbara Ehrenreich

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
August 2004
8 hours 14 minutes
This engrossing piece of undercover reportage is a New York Times best-seller. 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. Author Barbara Ehrenreich decides to see if she can scratch out a comfortable living in blue-collar America. What she discovers is a culture of desperation, where workers often take multiple low-paying jobs just to keep a roof overhead.
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Charlie W.

Best book that there is out there.! Should be in everyone’s only wish there was an update to 2020

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I thought this was an interesting listen. Ehrenreich recounts the months she spent working various blue-collar jobs, and includes a lot of statistics about the working poor. It was an eye-opener for me, and I recommend it for people who are (like myself) interested in trying to form a complete picture of how people live in the US these days. The recording was fine. To my ear, it seemed the reader was trying to put a cynical spin on the prose in places, which I found to be at odds with Ehrenreich's objective and journalistic writing.

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I am so sick of hearing about the problems in America with no attempts at offering a solution. Instead of being an insightful book, it just came across as whining about the great injustices. As a former member of the low wage work force, I was more insulted than anything else.

This is the mildly funny story of a rich, self-important middle-aged writer who leaves her life to take on the struggles of the working poor. Her goal was to expose an unjust society. She bumbled around from town-to-town and job-to-job looking for a story. She was able to uncover the *shocking truth* that maids clean poop, Wal-Mart employees are forced to fold clothing, waitresses serve food; and often "poor people" live with relatives or *gasp* roommates. She witnessed such horrors (perpetrated by the evil managerial class) as an employee being fired for stealing, bosses who got angry when she didn't work... Other readers thought she provided compelling social commentary. I thought she missed her mark. The author admitted: -she could have earned promotions -was offered higher paying jobs -might have struggled less had she not switched jobs weekly and moved monthly -her co-workers never tried to improve their lives (she blames society for their lack of motivation)

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Catherine Copeland

This is the second book by the author I've read and I see it includes the same perennial demons that her other book contains. Guess one could sum it up before one even reads it as: Christians & Republicans bad, bad, bad, socialism and the welfare state, good, very good. Well now you know the Cliff Notes version. Really and truly I have always meant to read this book because it did cause quite a stir. I was born into the bottom rung of middle class, married into the bottom rung of middle class, became a divorced mom of two and thrown into Welfare and then low and behold I worked my way off it, got a good job, and now teach people things they desperately need like job skills, help them to continue the education, encourage them to stay in school, etc. etc. I did that doing jobs that Miss Barbara felt a bit beneath her standard of life. Let's see I was a cocktail waitress, worked two jobs, went to college, raised two kids on my own. Like American Express would say priceless.

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This book gave no insight into what poor people feel. It was just one woman's repetitive story about how being poor isn't fun. She just complained nonstop. I wanted to hear about the story's of the people she met and how they got to where they are. But, the story just revolved around the author.

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David Jackson

I thought this would be a liberal pity-party for the poor, but it ended up being pretty decent. Barbara could have done more to advance herself, and thus stayed in poverty more than she had to, but it is a good look at "the other side". Made me glad I went to college, and should be required reading for all high school seniors contemplating skipping school or forgoing college.

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This is a riveting piece of journalistic writing, simple in concept and clear in the telling, to show comfortable well-educated readers what working poverty is all about. Read it, please, and see how you feel about discount America.

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Gets you thinking, but leaves me with... what was the point? People who can't understand don't, people who do understand don't get to go back to a money filled life. What's the point of a book like this?

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An interesting look at how working-class/ low income families have the deck stacked against them. A bit preachy at times, but the overall message is an interesting one that speaks to how the US has its own caste system.

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Mandi Chestler

Here's proof of the existence of a post-modern peasant class--the hungry, minimum-wage multitudes in America. Good thing Barbara Ehrenreich uses humor as she tells the desparate tale of living as one of the invisible underclass; otherwise her experiences on poverty-level wages would be too depressing to hear. Never again will you look at chain resturants and hotels, big-box retail corporations, and other modern-day service industries without a sense of supreme guilt. This book shows that our current welfare reform is the equivalent of Marie Antoinette taunting 18th century French peasants with visions of cake. By the way, it should be required reading for high school students thinking about future career choices.

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While it's true this book delivers no new answers to the poverty question in America, the importance of this book lies in the fact that it makes us aware of the question's continued existance. Today's society too often treats the poor like they are invisible, that there is no poverty problem because welfare has been reformed, and obviously since less people are getting government hand outs, that means less people need it. Not so true. Ehrenreich teaches us to SEE the poor again, but even more importantly, I felt that the writing was brilliant, and the glimpse she gave the reader into the lives of individual members of America's lowest social and economic class was truly well handled. For me personally, it changed the way I think about our economic situation, and I suggest that before you go around debating 'the welfare question' at your next cocktail party, you should pick this book up.

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As a sociology major, I love to listen to information about different areas. This was an interesting story, and it was good to see some old-fashioned "field work". The narration was good as well.

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