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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream » User review

There are a few things white collar workers should know.......,

  • Nov 26, 2008
Rating:
+1
Being an unabashed liberal Barbara Ehrenreich had little empathy for the plight of white collar workers in America.  Before embarking on the year long project that would result in her book "Bait and Switch:  The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream " Barbara mistakenly assumed that when these folks were laid off or "downsized" by corporate America that the disruption to their lives was minimal and that most would quickly land on their feet.  By putting herself in the shoes of these people she would quickly find out otherwise.  "Bait and Switch" chronicles the plight of a good many middle class Americans who are being forced to adjust to a declining standard of living in the wake of these new economic realities.  For those who are currently enduring or potentially facing this situation this is a book worth taking a look at.

For me the major strength of "Bait and Switch" is that it makes the reader acutely aware of the countless gurus, websites, classes and organizations that claim expertise and purport to help these unfortunate white collar workers land new positions.  Of course there are many well-meaning and legitimate indivduals and organizations out there but as Barbara Ehrenreich points out time and again in "Bait and Switch" there are also lots of hustlers and a whole host of scams that one must cope with.  Unfortunately there seems to be no shortage of people willing to take advantage of those who are going through the emotional trauma of unemployment.  She seems to have encountered quite a few of these folks along the way and as you will see she winds up with precious little to show for the time, effort and funds she invested with them.  Barbara also admits to being shocked at the types of jobs that talented and highly educated Americans are being forced to accept in order to merely survive.  These days most of these positions offer low wages and more importantly no health insurance.  For Barbara, writing "Bait and Switch" proved to be a real eye-opener.

On the flip side I found "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream" to be a bit long winded at times.  I also thought it unwise that the author seemed to promoting her own political agenda at many points throughout the book.  Just as it is important for affluent Americans to make themselves aware of the plight of the poor in this country I thought it was admirable for a liberal writer who certainly is very sympathetic to poor people to open herself to the problems of the middle class.  I thought that "Bait and Switch" would have been so much better without the recurring editorial comments.  For me "Bait and Switch"  turns out to be  kind of a mixed bag.  But for those middle and upper class Americans now staring unemployment squarely in the face this is probably a book worth taking a look at.   Recommended!
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March 09, 2009
Get ready for the next wave of foreclosure- and loan-modification-related scam artists. They've already started.
 
January 13, 2009
I actually hadn't heard of this book but I caught Barbara's name in the headline. I just started reading her book Nickel and Dimed .. haven't really made a dent in it but a lot of stuff is really shocking! I'll have to pick up Bait and Switch next.
 
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More Bait and Switch: The (Futile) ... reviews
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
This one will make you mad at times, shake your head in agreement, and want to fix the system somehow.
review by . December 09, 2008
Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch provides insight into the struggles that many white-collar Americans face when laid off late in their careers. In this book, Ehrenreich pretends to be on the job hunt for a white-collar job and subjects herself to all the adventures that such a quest entails.     While the book does contain a lot of facts and reveals that white-collar jobs are becoming just as precious as blue-collar posts, I felt that the book had an incredibly negative tone …
review by . June 17, 2008
As someone who recently went through a job search, I could definitely relate to Barbara's book. Her discussions of less than ethical recruiters, strange unknown standards, and supposedly insightful "personality" tests definitely brought back memories. However, the book unfortunately takes on a very negative tone. While the issues and problems she discussed certainly exist in the corporate world, there are positives that she fails to mention. Also, given that she's coming in with fake credentials …
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Wiki

Americans' working lives are growing more precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by "middle-class" jobs are a thing of the past.

In Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich goes back undercover to explore another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with the plausible résumé of a professional "in transition," she attempts to land a "middle-class" job. She submits to career coaching, personality testing, and EST-like boot camps, and attends job fairs, networking events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and—again and again—rejected.

Bait and Switch highlights the people who have done everything right—gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive résumés—yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster. There are few social supports for these newly disposable workers, Ehrenreich discovers, and little security even for those who have jobs. Worst of all, there is no honest reckoning with the inevitable consequences of the harsh new economy; rather, the jobless are persuaded that they have only themselves to blame.

Alternately hilarious and tragic, Bait and Switch, like the classic Nickel and Dimed, is a searing exposé of the cruel new reality in which we all now live.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including The New York Times bestseller Nickel and ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0739465538
ISBN-13: 978-0739465530
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Genre: Non-Fiction/Sociology, General, Science, Nature & How It Works, Politics, Social Science, Economic Conditions, Labor & Industrial Relations, Unemployment, Economics, Political Science, U.S., Blue Politics
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date Published: January 1, 2005
ISBN: 0805076069
Format: Hardcover/Paperback
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