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Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Escrito por Jessica Bruder

Narrado por Karen White


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Escrito por Jessica Bruder

Narrado por Karen White

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (58 valoraciones)
Longitud:
9 horas
Publicado:
Sep 26, 2017
ISBN:
9781681687193
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descripción

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the wilderness campgrounds of California to an Amazon warehouse in Texas, people who once might have kicked back to enjoy their sunset years are hard at work. Underwater on mortgages or finding that Social Security comes up short, they're hitting the road in astonishing numbers, forming a new community of nomads: RV and van-dwelling migrant laborers, or "workampers."

Building on her groundbreaking Harper's cover story, "The End of Retirement," which brought attention to these formerly settled members of the middle class, Jessica Bruder follows one such RVer, Linda, between physically taxing seasonal jobs and reunions of her new van-dweller family, or "vanily." Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of both the economy's dark underbelly and the extraordinary resilience, creativity, and hope of these hardworking, quintessential Americans―many of them single women―who have traded rootedness for the dream of a better life.
Publicado:
Sep 26, 2017
ISBN:
9781681687193
Formato:
Audiolibro


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4.4
58 valoraciones / 10 Reseñas
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Reseñas de lectores

  • (4/5)
    Nomadland can't decide if it wants to be an ethnography, a biography, a journalistic account of a phenomenon, or something else. Bruder tells the story of Linda Mae well, although somewhat unevenly - we get a sketchy biography of Linda, but it's not all told in sequence and the level of detail varies. I enjoyed learning about Bob Wells and his path to becoming a van dweller more.

    I really wish there had been more information about how widespread workamping or van dwelling as retirement are. Bruder states at one point that it's difficult to gather data on people who are so mobile and work so many temporary jobs - which I'm sure it is - but I really wanted a better picture on the broader phenomenon. Similarly, at one point she mentions that this lifestyle seems to be overwhelmingly white, offers some possible causes, and then doesn't mention it again.

    Bruder's brief stints working at Amazon and American Crystal Sugar were particularly frustrating. She goes in, works a couple of days, and quits. These stories don't really add much to the book - many other authors have talked about the difficulty of similar jobs, and as she admits, she can't really share the experience of the people who have no choice about working them. I really wish she had talked more to the permanent supervisors who see the workampers come and go.

    After reading the book, I really felt for Linda Mae and the others Bruder talks about, but I don't know how universal their experiences were. Is this a story of what American old age is becoming, or a small, isolated group that isn't being served by the existing systems? Bruder suggests the former, but her book doesn't quite convince me.
  • (4/5)
    An expose of the multitudes of people, most older, who have left homes they can't afford and taken to a nomadic life moving from one temporary job to the next. It is depressing in that so many are living such difficult lives and uplifting in that many are not only managing but thriving.
  • (5/5)
    This book looks at a growing number of people, usually retirees. Not always by choice, they have abandoned their homes, and are living in a van or trailer or RV as they travel around America.Perhaps their savings disappeared during the Great Recession, or they are officially "underwater" on their mortgage (owing more than the house is worth). Regardless of the reason, they are living on Social Security as they travel around the country. There are several websites dedicated to the subject. It's possible to make friends with other such "vanampers."It is also possible to get temporary employment while living in your vehicle. A person, or couple, could, for instance, spend the summer as Camp Hosts at a campsite. Then they could spend a couple of months flipping burgers for a professional baseball team during spring training. More important than the modest pay is the chance to get a safe place to park the vehicle for a time. Then there is working for Amazon; they call the vanampers their "camperforce." Not all Amazon warehouses accept them; who wants to live in a van up north during the Christmas rush? It's normal to walk the equivalent of ten or twelve miles a day at an Amazon warehouse.There are many things to consider when living in a vehicle. The first night in your vehicle, parked in a parking lot, will be nerve-racking. You fear that any footsteps you hear will be vandals, or the police. A growing number of cities and states have taken to criminalize homelessness. If your vehicle is not set up for it, how do you go to the bathroom, or take a shower?This is a fascinating, and eye-opening, book. Many Americans are just one layoff, or hospital stay, away from joining the "vanampers." If such a thing is in your near future, start your preparations by reading this book. It is very much worth the time.
  • (4/5)
    Nomadland is a fascinating, but sad, look at a segment of the American population that prefers to call itself "houseless" rather than "homeless" - and that's about the only difference in with the "homeless" that they have. This usually elderly segment of the population is lucky in that the various vehicles they live in are generally mobile and able to get them from state to state as they seek seasonal work. The stories and features gathered by the book's author Jessica Bruder will remind readers of much of what John Steinbeck had to say about the migrant workers of the Great Depression years. But unlike those forced from their homes by economic circumstances in the thirties, most of today's migrant homeless seem to be an optimistic lot as they fond with each other, other meeting in large encampments in the West on an annual basis in order to celebrate their "uniqueness."The author traveled with several of the people she profiles, getting to know them well as she shared work experiences with them all over the country. The most surprising such jobs took place in huge Amazon warehouses where elderly workers are recruited as "pickers" from the shelves to fill orders and to fill other manual tasks, tasks often requiring them to walk near 20 miles a day on hard floors while climbing 40 or 50 flights of stairs to gather material...all for $11 an hour. Some of the workers injure joints and backs to the degree that they can no longer even work for Amazon in those positions ever again - including the author herself.Nomadland is, as I say, fascinating. But it leaves some huge questions unanswered: none of the people profile, nor the author herself, explores what is to happen to these people in another 10-15 years when they are too old to live on their own. Are they planning to die in their trailers, buses, and large cars while living behind some abandoned warehouse or on a Wal-Mart parking lot? What is this doing to our society? Are families no longer willing to take responsibility for its elders? Does the author see this as a temporary societal shift that will take care of itself as the economy finally recovers from the stagnation of the last decade? Or is society changing permanently?I wish some of these questions had been more explored - or explored at all - but this is still an eye-opening read.
  • (4/5)
    Jessica Bruder infiltrated a subculture that exists in the United States: people (usually over 50) who live out of mobile vehicles, be it trailer, car, panel truck, etc., because they can't afford house or rent payments. She has researched the field and made comparisons to the Dustbowl Crisis of the 1930's. Bruder spent 3 years studying and traveling with this group, investing in her own trailer to experience the lifestyle. Those who are most successful in living like this are folks who consider themselves "houseless" but not homeless. And many call themselves "vanily" (chosen family of like minded individuals) rather than family. Most stories leading to this way of life are sad ones, some are heartbreaking. But there is a large "vanily" out there and they are there for each other. The people who live like this still needs to work and so they migrate all over the U.S. for temporary/seasonal work (National Parks and Amazon Fulfillment Centers are the largest employers) and stay in touch with each other via the internet. It's interesting to note that these people have pared there belongings down to the essentials and then spend 3 or 4 months a year working in Amazon warehouses unpacking, sorting, distributing and mailing a wealth of what America thinks it needs to be happy and fulfilled. I found the book well-written, interesting and thought compelling.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting piece of long-term investigative journalism. I appreciated the human approach Bruder takes in discussing a growing economic trend and the inclusion of pictures of some of the senior citizens impacted. I found the author's very brief stints at the beet harvest and the warehouse a little gratuitous, but I give her some props for actually getting her hands dirty and not glossing over the day-to-day issues of unglamorous details like parking, going to the bathroom, and showering while living on the road. Overall it is an enlightening, well researched book discussing an important trend and she doesn't bury the reader in a barrage of incidental statistics. Recommend.
  • (5/5)
    I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder was a five star read for me.Bruder spent three years following, interviewing and documenting a group of nomads. But the nomads aren't probably what you would initially think. This group of low-cost labourers is primarily made of an older population. They live and travel from job to job in their RV's, campers, vans or cars. The nomads are those who have lost their bricks and mortar homes, those who can't live on their social security checks, those who have no choice but to keep on working past any retirement date, and yes, those that choose this lifestyle. Working at physical, seasonal jobs at fulfillment warehouses, harvesting crops and staffing campgrounds. They're often referred to as 'workampers'.Bruder introduces us to many of the people that make up this community. And I do mean community. There are regular meet-ups, connections and on-line communications. We are privy to the details, struggles, concerns, joys, friendships, resilience and day to day lives of a few workampers over the course of three years. A woman named Linda May is the 'lead' if you will - the book follows her closely. Bruder herself goes on the road and manages to get hired on at many of the same jobs. The difference being that Bruder still has a bricks and mortar home to go to.For some of the nomads, it's a lifestyle choice, but for most, its necessity. There are workers in their eighties. The workampers are made up of those from wide and varying backgrounds. Don't make assumptions until you read this book.Nomadland is an absolutely eye-opening, fascinating read. But at the same time, its difficult and unsettling. I was quite stunned by how large this workforce is, the demand for these older workers, how they are used and the subculture. This is a group living unseen, right underneath society's nose if you will. Nomadland is well written and well researched.
  • (4/5)
    Nomadland is the story of (mostly) older people for whom their retirement years are not "golden"--they are not technically homeless, but they live in their RVs or vans and traverse the country in search of seasonal, temporary work. Jessica Bruder spent a great deal of time with the people whose lives she portrays in this book.The jobs they seek and hold range from janitorial/maintenance work at state and national parks during the summer, to farm work during beet harvest season, to work in one of Amazon's mammoth fulfillment centers during the buildup to the Holidays. The common factor is that the work is usually back-breaking, mind-numbing, and low-paying. In fact, Amazon relies on these workers--they have a name and a logo: "The Camper Force." One of the perks of being a Camper Force member is that Amazon provides free OTC pain relievers to these workers to relieve the pain and strain of the heavy lifting and miles walked each day. (I, for one, will be thinking of this each time I order from Amazon in the future.)The people forced into this new economy include former blue and pink collar workers for whom Social Security is not quite enough to make it on, and also former college professors, software engineers, pastors and other theoretically middle class people. Many of them lost their savings and/or their houses in the financial crisis of 2008.This is a very sobering book, and I fear that stories like these will become the norm as Congress marches relentlessly on its quest to demolish Social Security and Medicare with the goal of voucherizing Medicare and privatizing Social Security. However, despite the grim outlook, the people depicted in this book are for the most part hopeful and optimistic people who look on the bright side of things, which made it a pleasure to get to know them. Unfortunately, though, we don't need a dystopian novel to see where the future is headed.4 stars
  • (3/5)
    Book provides knowledge about the culture of older Americans forced to work terrible jobs and live in vehicles...a slice of American culture that makes most of us cringe. It's long-term investigative journalism, or is it? We get to know several travelers and watch one climb out of it...others don't. I found the book well-written, interesting and thought compelling.
  • (3/5)
    Nomadland by Jessica Bruder succeeds in providing knowledge about the culture of older Americans forced to work terrible jobs and live in vehicles. It's a story most readers likely are unfamiliar with, outside of the similarities it shares with tales of migrants from another time and place. These transient seniors are being employed by the droves at beet farms, amusement parks, and Amazon warehouses.As much an exploration of nomadic seniors, Nomadland is also a searing exploration of what goes on behind the doors at Amazon’s largest facilities. Given Amazon’s chokehold on the publishing industry, it’s a surprise they have allowed this book to exist. Of course, they are aware that even if the abysmal conditions of these facilities became known by the masses, the overwhelming majority would just say, “I can’t afford to go anywhere else.” (Which is frankly, for most us, complete bullshit.)Bruder’s politics are implied in Nomadland, but never touched upon directly. While this separation keeps the book from becoming one-sided, it also prevents it from becoming as damning as it might have otherwise been. I’m not saying one choice was better than the other, but I do think the lack of commitment shows, preventing the book from achieving its fullest potential.Lastly, I want to touch on Nomadland as a complete, banded work. Initially, I struggled to get into this book. The opening chapters lack a clear direction or narrative. It felt more like a string of magazine articles that were pieced together. Eventually, it does feel like Bruder found her story and begins to chase it, the random pieces gel into a semi-cohesive work. It’s not enough to really pull this narrative together, but it provides a sufficient survey of the subject.Recommended strongly for those who like journalistic writing or are particularly interested in economics, poverty, and sociology.