Book Review | Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Wired September 2017
Wired September 2017

In September of last year, I read Jessica Bruder’s article in Wired magazine about retired people living out of the RVs and working for Amazon fulfillment centers, MEET THE CAMPERFORCE, AMAZON’S NOMADIC RETIREE ARMY. It was a very well written article that greatly intrigued me. Later I found out that Bruder was going to be writing a book about the same subject, furthering the article into something substantial. Nomadland is the result of that work. Nomadland is Bruder’s third book and she has written for many magazines.


The book follows a few of these work campers as the work for Amazon and the park system. The pay is low, most time just above minimum wage, but it is usually just enough to get by with.

many of these wandering souls were trying to escape an economic paradox: the collision of rising rents and flat wages

Plus the RV driving retirees take care of each other, helping out where everything they can. Installing solar panels, sharing a meal, or patching up each other’s RV’s when there is damage. Even though they are retired they still work and they work hard. When working for Amazon they walk up to 15 miles a day putting Amazon products on shelves for other work campers to pick up and package for customers.

Amazon Tour
Amazon Tour by Flickr User: Maryland GovPics

Life is not a vacation for these senior citizens. Things are tough for those that lost their retirement savings when the market went bust or had to pay for huge medical bills when an unexpected illness struck. The single largest expense we all have is rent or a mortgage. If you can cut this expense by living in an RV or van or car, then the money you make goes a lot farther. Working for minimum wage really is a minimum then. Things are not good but they are doable…just.

Camper by Flickr User: Shutter Theory

This book was an insightful look at how those who get paid minimum wage make things work. Some of them live in RVs or cars because they had to decide if they wanted to eat or if they wanted to have four walls around them. Shelter had to take on another form for them. It works for them but there is definitely a stigma attached to living in your car. You are “house” less if no homeless. Without a real address, there are some real hassles to getting things done. Like having a drivers license even. Bruder did a wonderful job making her article for Wired grow into a very good read! I rate this book 4 stars.