Friday, January 9, 2009

This Land is Their Land

I’m currently reading This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenreich. I first came across Ehrenreich when in college I read Nickel and Dimed, an immersion journalistic experiment of Ehrenreich’s when she took several minimum wage jobs over the course of a year to see if it was even possible to live on our country’s minimum wage. (From her perspective, you may be able to get by, but just barely.) I enjoyed Nickel and Dimed. It may have been a touch one-sided, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t bring up very valuable lessons and points of interest. Plus, she had her real-life experiences to back it up.

This Land is Their Land, Ehrenreich’s attempt at studying the first decade of the 21st century, is comprised of about 60 essays she wrote for other publications, such as The New York Times and The Progressive. Most often they’re personal rants with very few stats or actual research thrown in. She takes to the mat all the super-rich out there who she believes are the main reason we’re in the mess we’re in right now.

When it comes to the ways of the world, I tend to lean toward Ehrenreich’s side. As she’s chastising Walmart, big-box electronic store CEOs, etc., it’s very easy to cheer her along. It really does seem that these big wigs couldn’t care less about their employees, or the fact that the middle class is failing while they’re only getting richer.

So, I’m on the fence about this book. If you lean blue and like books that preach to the choir, this is definitely it. She’s humorous, sarcastic and can make you laugh out loud. But, if you prefer your emotional rants to come with a little beef in the statistics and proof department, it may be frustrating for you. As a journalist, I take her words with a grain of salt; as a middle-class citizen, her words put some fight in me.

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