Jessica Bruder




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From the beetroot fields of North Dakota, to the Amazon CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new source of low cost labour made up of elderly American nomads. People from all walks of society, invisible victims of the Great Recession, who got behind the wheel of a camper, caravan, or van and joined the nomad community. Jessica Bruder followed them closely for three years, living for long periods in a van, and in her book, Nomadland, she tells the enlightening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy. She also celebrates the resilience and creativity of these people, who have to keep on moving just to survive.

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Analysis and key concepts


The new nomads that are “surviving” America: not homeless, but houseless


Fixed salaries and rent increases make people feel trapped, with no hope of improvement


Pensions in the twenty first century are an almost impossible dream for many Americans


The biggest seasonal work program for nomads: CamperForce by Amazon


From blogs to large gatherings such as the “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous”: how the new community of nomads feed themselves


Most nomads are white: for black people, this choice of lifestyle might be risky




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Find out who the nomads of the United States are, and why they have chosen this way of life.
  • Understand why new American nomads don’t call themselves homeless but houseless.
  • Discover the biggest seasonal work program for nomads: CamperForce by Amazon.
  • Understand why 21st Century nomadism is destined to last.
  • Glimpse the ups and downs of this way of life.

Jessica Bruder is an investigative journalist who writes about subcultures and social issues. In addition to Nomadland – which she prepped for by spending many months living in an RV - she is also the author of Burning Book: a Visual History of Burning Man, and co-author of Snowden's Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance. She teaches narrative storytelling at the Columbia Journalism School, and has been writing for the New York Times for over ten years. Her work has also been published in New York Magazine, WIRED, Harper's Magazine, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, and The Oregonian. She graduated in English and French from Amherst College, and has a Master’s degree in magazine writing from Columbia Journalism School.

Publishing house:

W.W. Norton & Company