Nickel and Dimed , sold over a million copies in"/>

Bait and Switch

Barbara Ehrenreich, Author . Holt $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7606-6

A wild bestseller in the field of poverty writing, Ehrenreich's 2001 exposé of working-class hardship, Nickel and Dimed , sold over a million copies in hardcover and paper. If even half that number of people buy this follow-up, which purports "to do for America's ailing middle class what [Nickel and Dimed ] did for the working poor," it too will shoot up the bestseller lists. But PW suspects that many of those buyers will be disappointed. Ehrenreich can't deliver the promised story because she never managed to get employed in the "midlevel corporate world" she wanted to analyze. Instead, the book mixes detailed descriptions of her job search with indignant asides about the "relentlessly cheerful" attitude favored by white-collar managers. The tone throughout is classic Ehrenreich: passionate, sarcastic, self-righteous and funny. Everywhere she goes she plots a revolution. A swift read, the book does contain many trenchant observations about the parasitic "transition industry," which aims to separate the recently fired from their few remaining dollars. And her chapter on faith-based networking is revelatory and disturbing. But Ehrenreich's central story fails to generate much sympathy—is it really so terrible that a dabbling journalist can't fake her way into an industry where she has no previous experience?—and the profiles of her fellow searchers are too insubstantial to fill the gap. Ehrenreich rightly points out how corporate culture's focus on "the power of the individual will" deters its employees from organizing against the market trends that are disenfranchising them, but her presentation of such arguments would have been a lot more convincing if she could have spent some time in a cubicle herself. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/11/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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FORMATS
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-8050-8124-4
Book - 978-1-59397-729-0
Book - 978-1-59397-752-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3747-6
Book - 978-0-7927-3746-9
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-1570-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-59397-730-6
Paperback - 237 pages - 978-1-86207-897-0
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-7927-4277-7
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