- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (November 17, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594511845
- ISBN-13: 978-1594511844
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,925,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Good Company: A Tramp Life 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Douglas Harper, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Duquesne Univeresity, is the author of Working Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 1987) and Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture (University of Chicago Press, 2001).
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Harper graduated from college with an undergraduate degree in sociology in 1970. For the next decade, as he worked on his doctorate, he immersed himself into the “tramp” culture, in the best tradition of authors of other impressive sociological works, including Village in the Vaucluse: Third Edition,Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City), and Nomads of the Nomads: The Al Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter. Walking the walk, and not just talking the talk (or doing normalized surveys). The author quickly mastered the learning the curve of riding the rails. He picked apples in Washington State. Most importantly, he found a mentor in Carl, with whom he developed a certain friendship, until Carl’s loner personality once again asserted itself, a very common trait of tramps. Carl had been on the beachhead at Guadalcanal, came from a broken Depression-era family, and was very picky about the quality of his eggs and had concerns about the chemicals they were putting in the meat (and this, in the ‘70’s!), yet would go on three-week drunk periods after a good spell of work.
About half way through the book, Harper addresses a key point that I had been wondering about. How does an early 20’s college kid fit in within the tramps who are 2-3 decades older? Or, as he graphically describes it: my pink skin and their old gray skin. The answer is: reasonably well, basically by being truthful as to his purpose and objective. The many black and white photographs are a strong complement to his presentation. He had to use his camera, “with care,” and explains that he usually requested the permission of those he photographed. And I was not surprised when he declared that Henri Cartier-Bresson was a chief inspiration.
Tramps were often a dream labor “pool” of workers for the owners of the orchards and farms. They provided a vitally needed contingent labor force, with few obligations for the employer. They were often exploited. They were tolerated by the townspeople and police as long as they were useful (had money, or provided needed labor). Violence, particularly of the inter-tramp variety, marked their lives, and alcohol was a curse. There is much specialized vocabulary, and Harper provides explanations in the text, and a useful glossary.
So what happened to it all? Harper experienced the end of an era. He provided a 10-page chapter in 2006 that would serve as an epilogue. The white tramp, complimented by some blacks and Indians, is largely extinct. They have been replaced by those in today’s headlines: Mexican immigrants, who are also greatly abused. Their labor in the farm fields, as well as restaurants and the hospitality industry, is “good for the economy” at least the owner’s economy, and hence all the “empathic” stories about their current concerns over deportation. The violence that was present when Harper rode the rails has only greatly escalated. Riders of the rails are often simply murdered, by psychopathic killers. According to Harper, the police label the dead: “N-H-I” (no human involved). Violence is part of gangs, such as the FTRA, that dominate the Minneapolis – Seattle line, which Harper often rode, and is part and parcel of today’s meth epidemic.
I’ve known about this book, and Harper’s life with the tramps, for decades, for in the interest of full disclosure, I was a long-term friend of his brother, Irv Harper, who is now deceased. I truly regret not having read this excellent work until now.
As a final thought, Doug Harper at one time saw the appeal of the tramp life, if one could exclude the alcohol and the violence. The movement from place to place, with minimum belonging and no mortgage or other societal obligations is appealing, and could be a most attractive late-in-life option. 5-stars, plus for Harper account of an era gone by, disappearing in our lifetimes.