Books by Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed (0-8050-6389-7). A frequent contributor to Harper’s and The Nation, she has been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine.


Released: April 10, 2018

"A powerful text that floods the mind with illumination—and with agonizing questions."
Ehrenreich (Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything, 2014, etc.) returns with research and rumination on the complexity of our human bodies and the misconceptions of our minds. Read full book review >
LIVING WITH A WILD GOD by Barbara Ehrenreich
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 8, 2014

"A powerful, honest account of a lifelong attempt to understand that will please neither theists nor atheists."
In 1959, the 16-year-old author had an ineffable vision, which she here contextualizes and attempts to understand. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 13, 2009

"Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer."
Accomplished social critic Ehrenreich (This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation, 2008, etc) eviscerates the positive-thinking movement, which she blames for encouraging us to "deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate." Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: June 24, 2008

"Provocative, angry and funny, often at the same time—just don't try to read it all in one sitting."
A collection of fierce polemics on the sorry state of American society from social critic, essayist and journalist Ehrenreich (Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 10, 2007

"A serious look at communal celebrations, well documented and presented with assurance and flair."
In what may be seen as a companion piece to her Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (1997), social commentator Ehrenreich takes a long view of the human impulse to "seek ecstatic merger with the group," an act that takes the form of dancing, feasting and artistic embellishment of the face and body. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

"Another unsettling message about an ugly America from a trustworthy herald. Read it and weep—especially if you're a job-seeker."
The middle class, writes Ehrenreich, is losing ground as steadily as the poor—and it has even more parasites feasting on its wounds. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 6, 2003

"For women's study courses, this look at a heretofore largely unexplored phenomenon is sure to provide controversial material."
Fifteen instructive essays on the causes and effects of female workers' migration from poor nations to affluent ones. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: May 8, 2001

"Sharp, empathetic, astute, Ehrenreich speaks loudly and eloquently for a group of workers who are often too tired and too manipulated to speak for themselves."
With wit and anger, a celebrated social commentator paints a brutal portrait of the world of low-wage work during the 1990s, when "welfare as we know it" was about to end and America was at the crest of its biggest economic wave in history. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: May 28, 1997

An iconoclastic study in which social commentator and Time essayist Ehrenreich challenges accepted notions of why human beings wage war. In her tenth book Ehrenreich (The Worst Years of Our Lives, 1990, etc.) takes a multidisciplinary approach in her investigation of ``the feelings people invest in war and often express as their motivations for fighting.'' She makes a thorough examination of a wide range of historical, psychological, sociological, biological, and anthropological literature to come up with her unique theory: that the accepted view that human beings engage in wars because of an innate aggressive, warlike instinct—especially in men—is untrue. Instead, Ehrenreich persuasively argues that the ``roots of the human attachment to war'' can be found in feelings and emotions that are imprinted on all of us due to events that took place many millennia ago, when our earliest ancestors spent most of their waking hours in fear of being devoured by predators. What Ehrenreich calls humankind's ``sacralization of war'' (the tendency to invest the emotional trappings of religious fervor in war) stems from the evolution of humans from prey into predators, the feelings engendered in ``a creature which has learned only `recently,' in the last thousand or so generations, not to cower at every sound in the night.'' The human predilection for war, as Ehrenreich puts it, can be viewed ``as a way of reenacting the primal transformation from prey to predator.'' Also key was ``a global decline in the number of large animals, both `game' and predators, for humans to fight against.'' In making these original arguments, Ehrenreich challenges long-held theories of evolution and psychology promulgated by Darwin, Freud, and other scholars. Ehrenreich's work is convincing, at least to the general reader. Her ideas likely will be challenged by those whose theories she seeks to discredit. (First printing of 30,000; author tour; radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
KIPPER'S GAME by Barbara Ehrenreich
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1993

Strikingly somber first novel from essayist/social-commentator Ehrenreich (The Worst Years of Our Lives, 1990, etc.), who makes full use of her Ph.D. in biology to create an America on the edge of environmental ruin and anarchy—where doomsday prophets and powerful corporate entities vie for control. The suburban family of Della Markson is shattered as the story begins: her husband deserts her after having driven their brilliant, brooding son Steve to disappear the year before. Della pulls her life together by getting a job at the sprawling, decaying Human Ecology Complex, where Steve, better known by his computer name Kipper, worked before he vanished, and slowly begins to gather information about him and the extraordinary game he was developing. She also meets her former professor Alex, a rumpled scientist with a serious drinking problem and no future, who has been ordered to prepare the biography of an obscure neurobiologist affiliated with a group of WW II Nazi scientists who researched the link between human mental capacity and the brain's pleasure center, using Jews as guinea pigs. Kipper's game turns out to accomplish similar goals, causing Della's and Alex's paths of inquiry to converge, but their steps are dogged by shadowy figures intent on gaining the information they seek for other purposes—figures from whom Kipper has escaped without telling them what he knows. When Della is finally reunited with her son, it's a brief, furtive event that culminates in his death, as well as her husband's, but not before Kipper safely passes on his knowledge to someone who might make good use of it. Complex and convincingly bleak, but more a novel of social and philosophical ideas than a technothriller—and generally lacking the sharp dramatic edge that would appeal to a wider audience. Read full book review >