Barbara Ehrenreich

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Barbara Ehrenreich was a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine from 1999 to 2012.

Her bestselling book, Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America (2001), originated as a piece of undercover reportage published in the January 1999 issue of the magazine, for which she received the Sidney Hillman Award in 2000. In her introduction to the book, Ehrenreich recalls how, during a lunch with Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham, conversation turned to how one lives on low wages. She suggested that someone ought to “do the old-fashioned kind of journalism—you know, go out there and try it for themselves,” after which “Lapham got this crazy-looking half smile on his face and ended life as I knew it, for long stretches at least, with the single word, ‘You.’”

Ehrenreich is the author or co-author of, among other works, Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (1998); Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2005); Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (2007); and Complaints & Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness (2011), co-written with former Mother Jones editor Deirdre English.

Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Time, The Progressive, and Mother Jones, among others.

Readings — From the March 2014 issue

The Trees Step Out of the Forest

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Readings — From the June 2012 issue

The animal cure

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Notebook — From the February 2007 issue

Pathologies of hope

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Article — From the November 2001 issue

Welcome to cancerland

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A mammogram leads to a cult of pink kitsch

Article — From the April 2000 issue

Maid to order

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The politics of other women’s work

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"The past is complicated, and explaining it is not just a trick, but a gamble."
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"Perfectly sane people lose access to housing every day, though the resultant ordeal may undermine some of that sanity, as it might yours and mine."
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"'We don’t know where the money went!' a woman cried out. 'They looted it! They stole our money!'"
Artwork by Mischelle Moy
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Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.

Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.

Photograph by Joshua Lutz
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Innocents·

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"The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion."
Photograph © Nadia Shira Cohen

Average number of new microwave food products introduced every day In 1987:

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