Nickel and Dimed

  • by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Narrated by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis
  • 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.A successful author, Barbara Ehrenreich decides to see if she can scratch out a comfortable living in a blue-collar America obsessed with welfare "reform". Her first job is waitressing, which pulls in a measly $2.43 an hour plus tips. She moves around the country, trying her hand as a maid, a nursing home assistant, and a Wal-Mart salesperson. What she discovers is a culture of desperation, where workers take multiple thankless jobs just to keep a roof overhead.
Often humorous and always illuminating, Nickel and Dimed is a remarkable expose of the ugly flip side of the American dream.


What the Critics Say

Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Non-Fiction, 2002
Alex Award Winner, 2002
"One of today's most original writers." (The New York Times)
"A close observer and astute analyzer of American life, Ehrenreich turns her attention to what it is like trying to subsist while working in low-paying jobs....Her narrative is candid, often moving, and very revealing." (Library Journal)
"Delivering a fast read that's both sobering and sassy, she [Ehrenreich] gives readers pause about those caught in the economy's undertow, even in good times." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good concept, but poor execution.

The concept of this book is very good. Is it possible to live on a minimum wage salary? This book raises some very interesting social and political issues.

The problem I have with the book is the editorializing, and even more so, the incessant whining of the author. Also, much of the writing has an "elitest" tone to it. If you are going to try your hand making a living as a maid, you should not be surprised about having to clean toilets or carrying a vaccuum. If you are going to work at WallMart, don't be shocked about having to return clothes to the a rack.

Sometimes it seems that the author never held a real job in her life. Employees complaining about managment, drug testing, ineffectual and demoralizing management is as much a "white collar" (and high pay) issue as it is a "blue collar" (minimum wage) issue. Of course, the white collar employees have a home to return to at the end of the day.

Hence, my main complaint about the book is that the author should have spent more time analyzing the housing issues, aide for the poor issues, job market issues, rather than whine about her minimum wage jobs.

In summary, I believe the book is raising some serious issues about "the working poor", it is unfortunate that it is too painful to listen to the authors complaints to get the the heart of the book.
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- Marco


This book did try to explore an interesting concept. But the end results was annoying and contrived. The author over-dramatizes the smallest issue, drawing it out into several minutes, making me think "lady, just get over yourself". She obviously had a point she wanted to prove, a cause she wanted to lead, but just tried to hard. In the end, the book had the opposite effect - complete lack of credibility.
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- Tracy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-13-2004
  • Publisher: Recorded Books