Book Review: Nickel & Dimed

Book Review: Nickel & Dimed – Undercover in Low-wage USA by Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel & Dimed is a book about economics for those of us who hate reading books about economics. This is not a dry tomb about market trends, global finance and hedge funds, but a thoroughly readable investigation into the lives and struggles of the working poor in the USA – and yes, they do exist, in their millions.


Nickel & Dimed is available at Lobby Books for R130


Nickel & Dimed is, at times, darkly funny, deeply disturbing throughout and still very poignant even though it was written almost ten years ago.

Ehrenreich, one of America’s most accomplished reporters, subverts the US military’s conception of “embedded journalism” by not simply observing and writing about her “subjects” from a detached and objective outsider’s perspective, but by becoming one of them. For a month at a time she tries to make a living from low-paid, blue collar jobs, sometimes holding down two of these at the same time. She waitresses in Florida, cleans houses in Maine and sells ladies’ wear in Minneapolis in a quest to understand how the low-income citizens of the planet’s most advanced capitalist nation manage to survive on a minimum wage.

Nickel & Dimed presents an insightful and eye-opening account of a USA you would not have come across in most American sit-coms, soapies or Hollywood movies.

Andreas Späth, Idasa

Nickel & Dimed is available at Lobby Books for R130.


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