why did she write this book and how did the idea come about?
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Barbara Ehrenreich was already a highly respected figure in the world of journalism before she penned Nickel and Dimed. As she relates in her introduction to the book, the idea of trying out low-wage work in the interest of investigative reportage came up during a lunch with the editor of Harper’s. Ehrenreich recalls how, during a lunch with Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham, conversation turned to how one lives on low wages. She suggested that someone ought to “do the old-fashioned kind of journalism—you know, go out there and try it for themselves,” after which “Lapham got this crazy-looking half smile on his face and ended life as I knew it, for long stretches at least, with the single word, ‘You.’” You can read more about this meeting this from the Harper magazine link below: