From the beet fields of North Dakota to
the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce
program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool,
made up largely of transient older Americans. These invisible casualties
of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands
in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing
community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves “workampers."
In a secondhand vehicle she christens
“Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more
intimately, telling a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark
underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious
future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates
the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential
Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive.
Jessica Bruder is an award-winning
journalist whose work focuses on subcultures and the dark corners of the
economy. Her work on Nomadland spanned three years and more than
15,000 miles of driving—from coast to coast and from Mexico to the
Canadian border. She has written for Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, WIRED, and The Guardian. Bruder teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.