The New Press Remembers Barbara Ehrenreich

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

August 26, 1941–September 1, 2022

The New Press mourns the loss of writer and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, author of more than twenty books, including the brilliant Nickel and Dimed, which the New York Times called “a classic in social justice literature.” Her work changed the way we think about American health care, about low-wage work and poverty, and indeed about every topic she explored in her many critically acclaimed books.

Barbara served on The New Press's very first board of directors (her friend and ally Frances Fox Piven was the first board chair); when he was running Pantheon Books, The New Press’s founding director André Schiffrin had published two of Barbara’s books—Fear of Falling and The Worst Years of Our Lives (Sara Bershtel was her editor). She discussed Fear of Falling, a book that explored the rise and fall of the middle class, with renowned writer and oral historian Studs Terkel for his WFMT Chicago show, The Studs Terkel Program. When André was being forced out of Pantheon, Barbara organized a demonstration and picket line in front of Random House, then owned by the Newhouse family, on East 50th Street, in support of André. Studs Terkel, Kurt Vonnegut, and many others joined in what became a famed lunch-hour protest. Barbara remained a friend and a loyal supporter of André and The New Press in the years that followed. Piven remembers her as “brilliant, but also so sensible, and a wonderful friend, steadfast, insightful, and fun.” Another of Barbara’s friends and collaborators, New Press author Arlie Russell Hochschild, remembers Barbara as “always exhilarating, fun, and unforgettable to talk with . . . she whirled, danced, and swung her way through ideas, always with a deep sense of moral purpose. Barbara drew from herself and gave of herself generously, and the world is much wiser and better for it. I shall miss her greatly.”

Of course, she will be greatly missed by many. Her books will be read for many, many years to come.

We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

“When someone works for less pay than she can live on—when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently—then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”
―From Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America


Diane Wachtell and others at the demonstration Barbara Ehrenreich organized to defend André Schiffrin and the Pantheon imprint.

Read the obituaries in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian.


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