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Had I Known

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A new selection of the most provocative, incendiary, and career-making pieces by bestselling author, essayist, political activist, and "veteran muckraker" (The New Yorker) Barbara Ehrenreich. A self-proclaimed "myth buster by trade," Barbara Ehrenreich has covered an extensive range of topics as a journalist and political activist, and is unafraid to dive into intellectual A new selection of the most provocative, incendiary, and career-making pieces by bestselling author, essayist, political activist, and "veteran muckraker" (The New Yorker) Barbara Ehrenreich. A self-proclaimed "myth buster by trade," Barbara Ehrenreich has covered an extensive range of topics as a journalist and political activist, and is unafraid to dive into intellectual waters that others deem too murky. Now, Had I Known gathers the articles and excerpts from a long-ranging career that most highlight Ehrenreich's brilliance, social consciousness, and wry wit. From Ehrenreich's award-winning article "Welcome to Cancerland," published shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, to her groundbreaking undercover investigative journalism in Nickel and Dimed, to her exploration of death and mortality in the New York Times bestseller Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich has been writing radical, thought-provoking, and worldview-altering pieces for over four decades. Her reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, among others, while her essays, op-eds and feature articles have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. Had I Known pulls from the vast and varied collection of one of our country's most incisive thinkers to create one must-have volume.


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A new selection of the most provocative, incendiary, and career-making pieces by bestselling author, essayist, political activist, and "veteran muckraker" (The New Yorker) Barbara Ehrenreich. A self-proclaimed "myth buster by trade," Barbara Ehrenreich has covered an extensive range of topics as a journalist and political activist, and is unafraid to dive into intellectual A new selection of the most provocative, incendiary, and career-making pieces by bestselling author, essayist, political activist, and "veteran muckraker" (The New Yorker) Barbara Ehrenreich. A self-proclaimed "myth buster by trade," Barbara Ehrenreich has covered an extensive range of topics as a journalist and political activist, and is unafraid to dive into intellectual waters that others deem too murky. Now, Had I Known gathers the articles and excerpts from a long-ranging career that most highlight Ehrenreich's brilliance, social consciousness, and wry wit. From Ehrenreich's award-winning article "Welcome to Cancerland," published shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, to her groundbreaking undercover investigative journalism in Nickel and Dimed, to her exploration of death and mortality in the New York Times bestseller Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich has been writing radical, thought-provoking, and worldview-altering pieces for over four decades. Her reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, among others, while her essays, op-eds and feature articles have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. Had I Known pulls from the vast and varied collection of one of our country's most incisive thinkers to create one must-have volume.

30 review for Had I Known

  1. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    A great encapsulation of the incisive, skeptical, wry, wide-ranging writings of Barbara Ehrenreich. Essays in here range from the mid-1980s to 2018, and cover a lot of ground: poverty and wealth inequality in America, gender and social dynamics, religion and culture, and the insidious qualities of pop psychology. Written with a lot of wit and insight. Two cautions: 1) Barbara Ehrenreich is deeply perceptive about class, but doesn't focus on race. She has been criticized for this, and some reader A great encapsulation of the incisive, skeptical, wry, wide-ranging writings of Barbara Ehrenreich. Essays in here range from the mid-1980s to 2018, and cover a lot of ground: poverty and wealth inequality in America, gender and social dynamics, religion and culture, and the insidious qualities of pop psychology. Written with a lot of wit and insight. Two cautions: 1) Barbara Ehrenreich is deeply perceptive about class, but doesn't focus on race. She has been criticized for this, and some readers will find it a deficiency. I accept it as a limitation but not something that negates the value of her work, just an invitation to layer other thinkers onto it. 2) This book is a little misleading in the way it was advertised--it's entirely collected writings with nothing new. So if you've already read most of her work you may not be encountering material you haven't read already. I would have liked an introductory and concluding essay to frame this collection, but still, a worthwhile read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This is a collection of essays published over a number of decades. The topics range from the pitfalls of prosperity gospel, to a commentary on the co-opting of the word “family” by the religious right, to essays that were the starting point for several of her books. It's tough to name a favorite, but the one that had the highest ratio of OMG moments per 60 seconds of audio was the one written in the middle of Reagan's second term, when the effects of his reverse-Robin Hood ideology were becoming This is a collection of essays published over a number of decades. The topics range from the pitfalls of prosperity gospel, to a commentary on the co-opting of the word “family” by the religious right, to essays that were the starting point for several of her books. It's tough to name a favorite, but the one that had the highest ratio of OMG moments per 60 seconds of audio was the one written in the middle of Reagan's second term, when the effects of his reverse-Robin Hood ideology were becoming startlingly clear. With every statistic about the decline of the middle class, widening income gap, and loss of good-paying jobs, I kept thinking, “Oh, sweet child, hold on to your hat. You ain't seen nothing yet.” Barbara's uncanny ability to spot, identify, and call out the latest corporate “woo” fad is one of the best things about her, and bless her for pointing out that companies do not offer mindfulness training (or anything else that might be construed as a perquisite) out of the goodness of their hearts, but to squeeze that last little ounce of productivity out of an already overworked and underpaid staff. Worth the read, even if you've already read her books. If you haven't read her books, this is a great sampler of the kinds of issues addressed there.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    Ehrenreich’s writing is unlike some pedantic non-fiction books, meaning it’s chock full of wry humor. Sure, in her new collection of essays Had I Known: Collected Essays, she delivers some very bleak encounters, yet she does so with such humorous panache that you’re not left crying, but rather charged up and ready to do something to help. Her essays are categorized into Have and Have-Nots, Health, Men, Women, God, Science & Joy and last, but not least, Bourgeois Blunders all offering buckets of r Ehrenreich’s writing is unlike some pedantic non-fiction books, meaning it’s chock full of wry humor. Sure, in her new collection of essays Had I Known: Collected Essays, she delivers some very bleak encounters, yet she does so with such humorous panache that you’re not left crying, but rather charged up and ready to do something to help. Her essays are categorized into Have and Have-Nots, Health, Men, Women, God, Science & Joy and last, but not least, Bourgeois Blunders all offering buckets of rainy mood statistics destined to fire up your humanitarian spirit. In her first essay from Harper’s Magazine entitled “Nickeled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America”, Ehrenreich details her experiment as a laborer in the Florida Keys. What frightened me about this article was people living on the edge working two jobs, with the obvious realization that it has only gotten worse. Yet Ehrenreich makes you buck up and pay attention and do something about people who live on the margins. For myself, I plan to donate the silly bag of goods I previously planned to sell at a garage sale, to someone in need. A small gesture, but every good deed has a ripple effect, given our current crisis. Within the Men section “Patriarchy Deflated” is an unconventional look at the possible solution to misogyny. God, Science and Joy contains nuggets like “Up Close at Trinidad’s Carnival”, an essay I read with vicarious awe given our current predicament. And as a perfect book end to this essay collection; “Divisions of Labor” from the New York Times in 2017, she hammers home the need for, if not unions, then some caring force ensuring workers are paid for their hard work. I think now of the fun Rochester Red Wings baseball games I used to attend where a tongue in cheek “Waste Man”, a theoretical super hero advertising that refuse company ran through the stands, and realize now ‘he, the garbage man, is truly a superhero, along with the home health aides toiling in nursing homes afflicted with Covid 19. This book is a well written reminder that we need to recognize with fair pay the people whose backs we stand on, keeping us all afloat.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie Griffin

    Essays collected from the 80s to the 2010s written by the "professional muckraker," with columns from various publications. I admit I skimmed a few of the denser ones such as the Reagan ones (and wished Dame Barbara had some more recent musings about current situations) but I binged on her musings on race, labor, feminism with a lot of head nodding in agreement. My favorite was her Acer ic take on her daughter's admission to an Ivy League School, which would grant her daughter access to young at Essays collected from the 80s to the 2010s written by the "professional muckraker," with columns from various publications. I admit I skimmed a few of the denser ones such as the Reagan ones (and wished Dame Barbara had some more recent musings about current situations) but I binged on her musings on race, labor, feminism with a lot of head nodding in agreement. My favorite was her Acer ic take on her daughter's admission to an Ivy League School, which would grant her daughter access to young attractive rich people all day, every day, and assure one poor person in her universe, the mother having to pay two thirds of an average family's salary each year (written before tuition got even more outrageous). The first essay is the opening of her classic Nickel and Dimed, about Ehrenreich's experiences living in dead end jobs with too little pay and constant little humiliations that suck the self esteem and joy out of the working class. Ehrenreich delivers her sharp observations with razor wit. We need more Barbaras.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bond

    Barbara Ehrenreich is a champion of the truth. For over 40 years, she has broken through the hype, the hidden and the horrendous to help us to understand complicated issues as well as the details of the daily lives of our fellow citizens. Now, she has gathered together a collection of some of her best essays – both eye-opening and enlightening. If you’re not familiar with her work (i.e. Nickle and Dimed), then you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. This is a great way to get started! I met this b Barbara Ehrenreich is a champion of the truth. For over 40 years, she has broken through the hype, the hidden and the horrendous to help us to understand complicated issues as well as the details of the daily lives of our fellow citizens. Now, she has gathered together a collection of some of her best essays – both eye-opening and enlightening. If you’re not familiar with her work (i.e. Nickle and Dimed), then you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. This is a great way to get started! I met this book at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicole S

    This book is being punished because of the times. I made the mistake of reading this while locked in corona2020. Hitting a little too close to home right now with some of the economic and racial and gender issues. Ehrenreich is sharp no doubt and what I found most surprising is the dates of the essays, meaning sometimes she was writing about something in the 1980s which is trending now. Like I said another day this might have held my interest more but staying at home has me needing more humor or m This book is being punished because of the times. I made the mistake of reading this while locked in corona2020. Hitting a little too close to home right now with some of the economic and racial and gender issues. Ehrenreich is sharp no doubt and what I found most surprising is the dates of the essays, meaning sometimes she was writing about something in the 1980s which is trending now. Like I said another day this might have held my interest more but staying at home has me needing more humor or mood swings or je ne sai que.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy Suto

    Some really great essays in here — highly highly recommend. Ehrenreich discusses the lack of class consciousness in America in a way that is poignant and hilarious. This is a must read collection, and will change your perspective on our country.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    I really enjoyed Ehrenreich's "Nickled and Dimed", so when I saw this on the new release list at the library, I thought I would give it a shot. This one didn't live up, and I had to give up ~100 pages into it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd Fassett

    2/21/20 How I found it: GoodReads pushed an email to me about a Giveaway for this book. I've always really liked the author's work, which is why it was pushed to me. I'll read it electronically though, so I didn't enter the Giveaway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Good collection, but the author can be a little fatphobic at times, which sucks.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul Womack

    A very fine collection of essays from over the years that, sadly, confirm the issues of social decline that occupied Ms. Ehrenreich’s writings are still current.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Gault

    For the completionist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    Well- written but it became tedious

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Gault

    Very smart! Nothing escapes the author's stiletto-sharp pen, men, women, feminists, cancer, religion , poverty and more. In short, all the stuff of modern life, but exposed with an objective eye.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tara

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura Applebee

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

  19. 4 out of 5

    J-Dog Ghetto Booty

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  21. 4 out of 5

    Colette

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janet

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Jo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gunnar Stefánsson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frank Levi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan Keady

  30. 5 out of 5

    BRIDGET DOLAN

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