Books that Test the American Dream

This is great, really:

In a test of the American Dream, Adam Shepard started life from scratch with the clothes on his back and twenty-five dollars. Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and a small savings.

Cool. No really, I respect that.

But you’ll notice he’s white, male, healthy, has a college degree (even if he didn’t explicitly say it, those manners don’t go away and I hope the knowledge and skills doesn’t), and has no dependents. Also, it’s sample size = 1. Not to dismiss his accomplishment (as a healthy white male with a BSc. and no dependents, I can offer some stories about living out my last $50 bucks with no clear job in sight…) but if you’re interested in the state of the American Dream, I would go first to:

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America , by Barbara Ehrenreich

Some cheap places to buy it. A review. Mathew Sheppard says his own successful experiment was a direct response to Nickel and Dimed, which might give you a sense of how thought-provoking that simple book is.

leave a comment