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Had I Known: Collected Essays


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About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of over a dozen books, including the New York Times bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Natural Causes. She lives in Virginia.


"Barbara Ehrenreich has committed her life to writing in defense of women, immigrants, people of color, people in the LGBTQ+ community, people who are homeless, minimum-wage workers, and those who can't even aspire to that luxury. Often prescient, her essays in this latest collection span several decades, explaining how we got to where we are today. A brave and brilliant thinker, she is most remarkable for reminding us how to be human in savage times. HAD I KNOWN is a dazzling tribute to Ehrenreich's unwavering commitment to that cause, her mastery of craft, and an expansive and exceptional career centering on the art of the essay."--PEN Awards
Ehrenreich's sharp and fearless take on mortality privileges joy over juice fasts and argues that, regardless of how many hours we spend in the gym, death wins out. An incisive, clear-eyed polemic, Natural Causes relaxes into the realization that the grim reaper is considerably less grim than a life spent in terror of a fate that awaits us all.--Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Evicted
this argumentative and passionate collection...challenges the status quo throughout, while also including a healthy dose of self-questioning. She is wittily satirical at times...and bitterly Swiftian at others. Gripping.--Publishers Weekly
[Ehrenreich's] significant research is conveyed in a wry, taut polemical style...[She] chillingly foresaw the devastation of labor and the middle class...and the increased cruelty of law enforcement toward the vulnerable...With such relevance to fractured late-capitalist America, Ehrenreich's work warrants renewed attention.--Kirkus Reviews
[Ehrenreich] resolutely avoids rhetoric in that 'blubbery vein'--which is why her book is such a rare feat...She struggles to make sense of the epiphany without recourse to the 'verbal hand-wavings about mystery and transcendence' that go with the territory... Ehrenreich has no interest in conversion...She wants, and inspires, open minds.--The Atlantic
[HAD I KNOWN is] a one-stop shop for fans of Ehrenreich's gimlet eye and informed outrage...A rewarding, illuminating tour de force.--Booklist
Barbara Ehrenreich is a singular voice of sanity amid our national obsession with wellness and longevity. She is deeply well-informed about contemporary medical practices and their shortcomings, but she wears her learning lightly. Natural Causes is a delightful as well as an enlightening read. No one who cares about living (or dying) well can afford to miss it.--Jackson Lears, PhD, Editor in Chief of the Raritan Quarterly Review
Ehrenreich has always been an intellectual and a journalistic badass... [She] ultimately arrives at a truce with the idea of God. You'll admire her journey.--Entertainment Weekly
Ehrenreich's work is appealing for its fiery focus on social injustice... striking for [its] foresight...[and] a reminder that Ehrenreich's writing is just plain fun to read, thanks to her acerbic wit and spirited grumpiness.--GQ
The factor that makes each of [Barbara's] books so completely unique in American intellectual life is her persistent sensitivity to matters of social class. She can always see through the smokescreen, the cloud of fibs we generate to make ourselves feel better about a world where the work of the many subsidizes the opulent lifestyles of the few. That, plus the fact that she writes damned well. Better than almost anyone out there, in fact.--Salon
The strange and frightening world we suddenly find ourselves living in is one Ehrenreich has warned about for decades...Her scathing take feels all but prophetic now.--The Washington Post
Throughout the text, [Ehrenreich] employs the erudition that earned her degree, the social consciousness that has long informed her writing, and the compassion that endears her to her many fans...A powerful text that floods the mind with illumination-and with agonizing questions.--Kirkus (starred review)

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