Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century

Book - 2017
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"From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon's CamperForce program in Texas, 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." In a secondhand vehicle she christens "Van Halen," Jessica Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying her irrepressible protagonist, Linda May, and others, from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy--one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable "Earthship" home, they have not given up hope."--Jacket flap.
Published: New York :, W. W. Norton & Company,, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780393249316
Branch Call Number: 331.398 BRU
Characteristics: xiv, 273 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm
Alternative Title: Nomad land


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VaughanPLGraeme Mar 20, 2019

I'm glad I read this book and liked some aspects of it, but I did find it frustrating in a lot of ways. For me, it didn't go into enough depth about the fundamental reasons behind the increase in transient/migrant older workers. Should we expect this to be a temporary situation largely due to the Great Recession and an aging population? Or does it relate more to larger trends of income inequality and the changing nature of work in a country/world in which companies leverage technology to reduce their reliance on middle income workers, instead needing primarily highly skilled technical professionals as well as people willing to do physically demanding but less technical work for low wages.

Some might argue the book was never intended to focus on the reasons behind this phenomenon, but rather was intended as a portrait of the people living this lifestyle. I can accept that, but personally I never really felt like I got to know and understand the people that were the focus of the book because the narrative kept jumping around to different people and places.

Overall, I guess I just wished this book went into more depth on either the reasons for the trend or the people living this lifestyle. In spite of that, I did find it an interesting book and a valuable introduction to a subculture that doesn't get much attention.

Feb 13, 2019

So when you retire and social security is not sufficient, hit the road in an RV and become an itinerant worker. The author spent 3 years living with the nomads of the highway in their travel parks and as itinerant workers crossing the country working in seasonal jobs in the parks, picking fruits and veggies, or working for Amazon. An eye-opener of the 21st century brans of hobos who his the road under their own terms and with their own supportive culture.

Dec 02, 2018

Read Evicted first

Oct 02, 2018

Book Group Selection
Reading Nomadland brought about a range of emotions, sadness, anger, fear, and numbness from the reality of what life is / can be, for the Baby Boomer generation. Well researched and written. Kudos to the nomads who shared their stories for the world to read.

PimaLib_NormS Aug 30, 2018

Hitting the open road seems like such an American thing to do. But, being on the road permanently? Living in a vehicle? Nah, not for this American. However, there are people doing exactly that, either by choice, or out of necessity, and Jessica Bruder has written a book about them called “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century”. For some, it is temporary (they hope), while others enjoy the freedom of not being tied to a house, or family, or a job. Many of these nomads refer to themselves as “workampers”, meaning they camp in their RVs or vans or vehicles, and they find transitory employment in the area. A good number of them work seasonally in the processing facilities of a certain ginormous online retailer. The jobs there, for the most part, sound terrible - hard work for little pay. One could wonder why they subject themselves to it. For those not independently wealthy, and few of these American nomads are, it can be a matter of survival, so they will do whatever they have to do. I was somewhat surprised at the sense of community that these folks have. Sure, there are lone wolves traveling the country, seeking solitude. But, for those wanting to be a part of an informal tribe, there are regularly scheduled gatherings publicized online and on social media, and by word of mouth. “Nomadland” peels back the layers of this sub-culture, exposing a way of life that is mostly unseen, but not in hiding.

Aug 22, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It gives a nice insight into a world that is close by, yet hidden to the average person. Excellent work, Jessica Bruder the author obviously spent a lot of time researching the material- including becoming immersed in the community of folks she was writing about.

May 31, 2018

Book looks at the phenomenon of older Americans in financial straits taking to the open road, looking for temporary work, family-like connections and ‘freedom.’ I’d heard about people like this taking to the open road in their RVs, but less recently, and with the consequences of The Great Recession added in making many now having less financial resources. Amazing how technology connects them and the companies like Amazon and Minnesota’s own Crystal Sugar depend on them.

May 26, 2018

A compelling and sympathetic read. Describes individuals who work hard to make their lives 'their's' and who draw strength from community even as they are transient. The author does a nice job of relating the challenges faced as well as the root of many of those challenges as negative consequences of poor decisions. Uplifting in the end though as resilience and opportunity are the themes that dominate - life is hard, harder when we make poor decisions, but it is sweet when blessed with freedom to define and pursue dreams. Read this as a final book in a series of fine reads starting with Hillbilly Elegy, Evicted, and Janesville: all are worthwhile.

May 11, 2018

Light on analysis, full of real people.

May 10, 2018

The books reads easy, but looks a bit unfinished business...seems to me that it could be written as a series of articles, and not a book. Maybe that is only me, but I was expecting deeper analysis and a better story.

PS. Now I see that another comment below also mentioned the article feel of the book...interesting!

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