Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Barbara Ehrenreich (AYR-ehn-rik) has written numerous books, pamphlets, and essays for magazines such as Esquire, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and Radical America. In addition to writing a monthly column for Time, she has been a contributing editor to Ms. since 1981 and to Mother Jones since 1988. A noted feminist, socialist, and secular humanist, Ehrenreich is probably best known for her social criticism of the economic status of women and how the health care system treats women.
Barbara was born in Butte, Montana, the daughter of Ben Howes Alexander and Isabelle Oxley Alexander. Her father was a coal miner and her mother a homemaker active in the Democratic Party. Theirs was a freethinking household and a strong secular humanist family. Her father’s maternal grandfather was a miner who liked to prove that he could do without whatever the mine owners had to offer.
Atheism is another tradition of defiance in the family. Ehrenreich grew up hearing that religion was nothing but superstition and only fools could be taken in by it. Her father had the complete works of the famous nineteenth century atheist Robert Ingersoll and sometimes read to the children from these books. Most men in Butte at that time were copper miners or railroad workers, and according to Ehrenreich’s father, many were atheists because they associated the clergy with the...
(The entire section is 1004 words.)
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Though Barbara Ehrenreich is best known for her 2001 investigation of the working poor, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, her career as a journalist and social critic spans three decades.
Barbara Alexander was born August 26, 1941 in Butte, Montana, the daughter of New Deal Democrats. (The New Deal was legislation presented by President Roosevelt in the wake of the Great Depression. It was based on the idea that the government should intervene to help stabilize the economy.) She earned a bachelor's degree in chemical physics from Reed College in 1964 and a Ph.D. in cell biology at Rockefeller University. While at Rockefeller, she met her first husband, John Ehrenreich, and became involved in both the antiwar movement and the cause for improving health care for low-income families. This led to two collaborations between the Ehrenreichs: Long March, Short Spring: The Student Uprising at Home and Abroad (1969) and The American Health Empire: Power, Profits, and Politics, a Report from the Health Policy Advisory Center (1971). With Deirdre English, she wrote two more books on health care and one about advice literature, For Her Own Good: One Hundred Fifty Years of the Experts' Advice on Women (1978). With husband John, she wrote the influential essay "The Professional-Managerial Class," which explored the importance of having left-leaning, or liberal, middle-class intellectuals work with the traditional left of the...
(The entire section is 432 words.)