Barbara Ehrenreich was a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine from 1999 to 2012.
Her best-selling 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 Hillman Prize in 2000. In her introduction to the book, Ehrenreich recalls how, during a lunch with Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham, their conversation turned to the difficulty of living 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 coauthor of twenty-two books, among them 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); Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything (2014); and Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer (2018).
Ehrenreich was elected cochair of the Democratic Socialists of America in 1983, one year after its creation, and she founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to journalism about economic insecurity. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Time, and Mother Jones, among other publications.