Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century

Book - 2017
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Employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves "workampers." Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects, accompanying them from job to job in the dark underbelly of the American economy, while celebrating their resilience and creativity.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2017
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393249316
Characteristics: xiv, 273 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Nomad land


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ellensix Dec 14, 2017

A compassionate look at the people who have left behind their brick and mortar homes (and their mortgages) to live the nomad life in RVs and trailers.

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Mar 02, 2018

Couldn't quite get into this book. Maybe Bruder is aiming for a Barbara Ehrenreich/Nickel and Dimed vibe or feel, but didn't seem to work in this case. I agree with the reviewer who said this felt too much like some magazine article. Too repetitive, like she's being paid by the word. I think I bring some personal prejudice to this book, however, as Bruder spends time talking about people working in campgrounds: Personally? What's up with this weird American obsession with camping??

Feb 14, 2018

An interesting read that is more like a very long magazine article.

The stories of the RV nomads gets repetitive and some digressions seemed intended to add length to the book, such as a very boring and completely unnecessary history of some land one of the people intends to purchase.

On the whole, this book was best when revealing details about the lives of people in this situation. The writer also raises interesting questions, but doesn't actually answer them, such as the habit of so many of the nomads to put on a sunny face when dealing with hardships, or questions regarding the demographics of the nomads. That one seems like some research on homeless demographics over all would have added insight, but it's not included here.

I really felt the book was most interesting at the start, when the lifestyle is really being revealed.

Jan 31, 2018

I had to wait to process Jessica Bruder's exceptional book before writing a review as it can be difficult to absorb. Traveling 49 states over 4 decades a part of me knew a Kampforce population was out there traveling the hiways and biways of America long before the Great Recession. Though the US economy is in a so called rebound, this well researched and personally experienced book proves a large group of Americans are far more in dire straits than we hoped. Many of these travelers described their situations as a form of "freedom." I'm sure that is a way to retain their dignity. "Houseless", not homeless they call it. God knows it would be difficult to maintain a positive outlook after being pushed into this way of life. It is often said many Americans are just "one health care bill" away from bankruptcy. But, a broken health care system is just one of the many financial maladies that put these travelers on the road.
I see this as the "underbelly" of a fractured American dream that casts aside rather than assists those who are less fortunate. To me this is a modern day version of "The Grapes of Wrath" stretching like a giant spider web over the Western U.S. Knowing many were traveling with children was heartbreaking. A fascinating and enlightening book but not a comfortable read for the unprepared. This ain't Todd & Buzz traveling Route 66.

Jan 01, 2018

A remarkable book. At first I was 'merely' fascinated and then it became something else entirely. Imagining myself in such precarious circumstances--it almost happened to me in 2009 but a miracle came my way. Lilypad's comment below is spot-on.

There are funny parts and there are joyful parts. The sense of freedom is spoken of time and time again by the various vankampers. But it is a hard way to live - they don't think of themselves as homeless but as houseless. Big difference. As states and cities squeeze these people vankampers become stealthy, where to safely park, move their vehicles at night and again in the morning, how to keep clean, how to manage on $500 a month in social security. They follow the jobs from beet factories to campgrounds workers to the Amazon warehouses during peak season Love Amazon? Think again.

AND they are almost all white. Why is that? These van people really need to keep a low profile and stay under the radar. Not to easy to do when you are a person of color. Reminds me of the Great Migration and the "green book" that listed the safe places for black people to stop and sleep/eat/use the facilities as they drove north and west. And so once again I am reminded that even in extreme and dire circumstances white privilege counts for something.

ellensix Dec 14, 2017

A compassionate look at the people who have left behind their brick and mortar homes (and their mortgages) to live the nomad life in RVs and trailers.

Dec 01, 2017

Very, very interesting book. I had heard about people who needed to find "alternative" ways to live because they were near retirement age without a retirement income but had no idea how many people are living this way. This author took 3 years to write this book; she even tried out the lifestyle herself. There are many personal stories included and I imagine that there are many, many, more.
Some people have described feeling freed from rent/mortgage payments, utilities, etc. The author wrote this in as uplifting a manner as she possible could.
I feel like it is all wrong that after working their whole adult lives, saving money(in most cases), that they cannot afford a place to live except a rusting vehicle with bald tires which they HAVE to keep moving because it is illegal in many cities to sleep in said vehicle.
They cannot afford medical treatment, dental treatment, don't want to be a burden on adult children if they have them.
They do find friends on the road and help each other out and for that and the ability to enjoy the sunrise and sunset in different places along the road- they are thankful.

Oct 26, 2017

Comical, unlike other books on poverty related social issues I read earlier this year. It’s rather a joy for me to read and I can even find a lot practical information, plus the dark secret and back end of!
I share the same dream as Linda May - home Earthship in desert. I admire Bob Wells’ philosophical wisdom. There are also many other workampers and vandwellers, (selected to be in the book), who are witty and intelligent.
Dystopia? No, with all the hurdles out there, nomadland is the way up to Eutopia!

I may have missed the point and dwell on naivety - if so, would be book’s fault!


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