Before the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to essential workers and our utter dependence on them, there were countless ethically troubling jobs being performed out of sight. Imprisoning criminals. Slaughtering animals. Fighting wars. In his masterful new book Dirty Work, Eyal Press explores jobs that are both essential and, at the same time, morally compromised.
Most citizens are shielded from seeing America’s “dirty work” because it’s performed by less privileged people: low-income workers, undocumented immigrants, women, and people of color bear the brunt of these jobs. In this beautifully probing investigation, Eyal Press explores the psychological and emotional hardships associated with them, such as stigma, shame, PTSD, and moral injury.
Celebrated author Rebecca Solnit, writes “This is a scathing and thoughtful book about labor and principles—or, rather about when the former sabotages the latter, in the brutal industries that prop up American life, from our appetite for cheap meat and fossil fuel to mass incarceration to remote killing as part of our foreign policy to the tech industry’s amoral profit seeking. Though the moral injury impacts the workers first, it belongs to us all. Eyal Press brings this home in a series of powerful portraits of workers, and through considerations of both their industries and the ways we look away or are prevented from seeing what they do. Ultimately, Dirty Work is a book about human sacrifice and the forces that disguise it.”
Dirty Work is available everywhere you buy books on August 17th.
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