cover image This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation

This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation

Barbara Ehrenreich, . . Metropolitan, $24 (235pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-8840-3

When a hospital employee whose hospital-supplied insurance doesn't cover her hospital-incurred bill finds her wages garnished, where's a political satirist to go for material? Feisty, fearlessly progressive Ehrenreich offers laughter on the way to tears in 62 previously published essays that show “the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.” She investigates pockets of poverty among undocumented workers, military families and recent college graduates. Ehrenreich's reach is capacious, encompassing not only unemployment, health insurance and inflation, but corporate spying, cancer studies, marriage education, the “abstinence training business” and “Disney's Princess products.” Her passion, compassion and wit keep these excursions lively and timely—even when yesterday's headlines provide the immediate provocation, e.g., JetBlue's “snow snafu.” The vignettes go down a bit like eating peanuts—too many at one time palls, but they're not unhealthy, unless you have an allergic reaction to Ehrenreich's message: “America is being polarized between the superrich few and the subrich everyone else.” Entertaining Ehrenreich certainly is, but she raises a hard, serious question: “How many 'wake-up calls' do we need, people...?” (May)