Jon's Reviews > This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation

This Land Is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenreich
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

Barbara Ehrenreich's new book is a collection of short pieces about various aspects of American life today, divided into sections about general issues such as sex, medical care, economic inequality, and religion. To her credit, BE doesn't try to suggest that our problems could be solved by electing more Democrats (besides, when voters did just that in 2006, nothing changed, except maybe for the worse). BE isn't afraid to admit when she was previously wrong, as in her discussion of how the Abu Ghraib scandal caused her to re-evaluate her brand of feminism. I disagree with her dismissal of Thomas Szasz' contention that those who commit some behaviors once considered "sinful" are now subject to punishment "for their own good" from the medical-legal complex. If anything, Szasz' critique of "pharmacracy" is all too relevant in a society where casual drug-users are sentenced to "treatment" against their will. She's undoubtedly right, though, that physical illness is increasingly viewed as a crime (as Samuel Butler predicted in his 19th-century dystopian novel, EREWHON). Whether she's attacking right-wing libertarian economists who scream that capitalism will collapse if workers earn a living wage, half-sympathizing with gated-community dwellers who end up finding their neighborhoods dull (and not even crime-free), or questioning the hypocrisy of women who claim their abortions were more "legitimate" than the "impulse abortions" of some other women, this is Ehrenreich at her best.

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