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This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation Hardcover – June 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088403
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Despite long national claims to being a classless society, the U.S. has a growing gulch between the haves and have-nots and what used to be the middle class. Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed (2001) and Bait and Switch (2005), catalogs the many ways that the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are getting poorer. The new top of the polarized social order has “pay in the tens of hundreds of millions, a private jet and a few acres of Nantucket,” and the new bottom is virtual slavery—captive domestics, sweatshop workers, and sex slaves exploited by their employers. She details the huge compensation gaps between CEOs and other management, top-ranked professors and adjunct professors, law firm partners and temp lawyers. In separate sections, Ehrenreich analyzes how wealthy individuals and corporations maintain the gap by engineering social, political, and economic policies that continue to disadvantage the middle class and poor, and our accommodation to it. Ehrenreich’s sharp analysis and engaging writing make the litany of misery enlightening, if not more bearable, reading. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia, USA.

Customer Reviews

This book needs to be read, and discussed.
Lesa Holstine
EZLN is making progress but they simply don't have enough people to be truly efffective (too many Mexicans are here).
E. Baumgartner
This book is well worth reading for the style of writing alone.
Frederick S. Goethel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
America is in big trouble, asserts Ehrenreich. Greed is in the saddle and rides roughshod over democratic principles. The rich are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer; a once-healthy middle class has become an endangered species.

Whether writing of "Chasms of Inequality," "Meanness on the Rise," "Strangling the Middle Class," "Hell Day at Work," "Declining Health," "Getting Sex Straight," or "False Gods," Ehrenreich pulls no punches, gives no quarter, takes no captives.

The most serious threats to a deep morality, argues Ehrenhreich, are not abortionists, stem cell researchers, or matrimonially minded gays, but those who wage an unnecessary war and ruthlessly oppress the poor.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Pat Robertson will hate this book. Many grossly overpaid corporate CEO's and HMO bigwigs won't care much for it either.

One need not be a devotee of Karl Marx's Das Kapital to perceive (unless one is willfully blind) the dark underside of capitalism, which thrives on the cynical creed: "Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost!"

Is Ehrenreich's book agitprop or solid sociopolitical criticism? The reader's reaction will depend on his or her political stance. I believe This Land Is Their Land is right on point: a devastating critique of capitalism run amok. It's a wake-up call concerning the looting and fleecing of America.

If Ehrenreich sounds angry, outraged, and fighting mad, it's because she is. Hers is a righteous indignation against those who are destroying everything that moral and compassionate people hold dear.

Like an ancient prophet, she issues scathing indictments against plutocrats who trample on the poor.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Lesa Holstine on July 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I told my husband that Barbara Ehrenreich's This Land is Their Land was a depressing book, he said that's because it's true. He told me not to read reality-based books if it's going to depress me.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, and Bait and Switch. She can call this book satirical commentary, but it's sad that her points about our government, our health care system, and our work force are actually right on target. Early on, she says that we've changed from a country where we felt we were all in it together, to one where the philosophy is closer to "I've got mine." She actually says, "Let the environment decay, the infrastructure crumble, the public hospitals close, the schools get by on bake sales, the workers drop from exhaustion - who cares?" We're now a nation of the haves and the have-nots, and more and more of us are becoming have-nots.

Ehrenreich points out that people are out of work, losing their homes, losing their health care, and no one is speaking up. Why aren't people complaining? We're letting our government and our businesses, such as Wal-Mart, control the country. And, they do a very good job of distracting us from the bad conditions in this country by pointing us in the direction of side issues, such as gay marriage and pro-life and pro-choice disagreements. She isn't the first one to say that illegal immigration is the latest distraction. "But it wasn't a Mexican who took away your pension or sold you on a dodgy mortgage." We're afraid for our jobs. We're afraid to lose our houses and our health care. It's not the first time in our country's history that a minority group has been selected as a scapegoat to distract us from the actual social conditions in this country.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rae on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Ehrenreich uses sarcasm, anecdotes and humor to discuss the current major problems facing average Americans: The rich getting richer at the expense of the middle and lower classes; corporate greed and how it has created the loss of good paying jobs while making life hell for those still working; the lack of adequate health care for millions; and the way our government uses fear to distract us from these basic quality of life issues.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Politicians and network news anchors delight in reminding us in somber tones that we are a nation "at war." But somehow they never talk about the domestic economic war being waged in downsized workplaces and foreclosed suburban homes where the casualties are kids who can't afford to go to college and families left in the lurch with no health insurance and debt exceeding their assets. This is the war Barbara Ehrenreich covers so well.

The news from the front is bad and getting worse by the day. Unless you are one of the 14,000 American families who earn the top 0.01% of income in this country, chances are you have lost the War on the Middle Class, or are about to lose big time. Prepare to kiss your assets goodbye!

In works of reporting such as NICKEL AND DIMED and BAIT AND SWITCH, Ehrenreich has chronicled the struggle of working and middle class Americans to get by and survive in a land where, oh my, Marx got something right: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer of late. And for many, that means the American Dream is slipping away with the morning mist.

THIS LAND IS THEIR LAND is a collection of 62 of Ehrenreich's short commentaries from recent years. As in all her work, we find her compassion, her sardonic wit and her thirst for social justice. She is the canary singing in our collective coal mine.

For the American middle class, once the mighty economic engine of the world in the years after World War II, something has gone terribly wrong in the early years of the 21st century. The trouble started during the Reagan administration. People know it. Politicians, especially liberal ones, know it but don't know how to talk about it for fear of being smeared with the red brush of "class war." But that is exactly what this war has been. And guess what?
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