Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

W.W. Norton & Co.
hardcover + paperback

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. Finding that Social Security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, 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,” Jessica Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying her irrepressible protagonist, Linda May, and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells 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. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable “Earthship” home, they have not given up hope.

available in audiobook + large print
coming in French, German, Japanese + Chinese

New York Times Editors’ Choice  + Notable Book

Discover Award Winner

J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize + Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism Finalist

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2017

Library Journal Top Ten Book of 2017

Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Selection

Booklist Editors’ Choice of 2017

Praise for Nomadland


"Stunning and beautifully written. . .brilliant and haunting.”



“This extraordinary book maps the chasm between what America wants to be and what it actually is.”



“People who thought the 2008 financial collapse was over a long time ago need to meet the people Jessica Bruder got to know in this scorching, beautifully written, vivid, disturbing (and occasionally wryly funny) book. Nomadland is a testament both to the generosity and creativity of the victims of our modern-medieval economy, hidden in plain sight, and to the blunt-end brutality that put them there. Is this the best the wealthiest nation on earth can do for those who've already done so much?”

REBECCA SOLNIT, Hope in the Dark


“A remarkable book of immersive reporting. . .Bruder is an acute and compassionate observer.”




“This is an important book. . .[A] calmy stated chronicle of devastation. But told as story after story, it is also a riveting collection of tales about irresistible people—quirky, valiant people who deserve respect and a decent life.”



“A devastating, revelatory book.”

TIMOTHY R. SMITH, Washington Post


“A first-rate piece of immersive journalism.”

San Francisco Chronicle


“Stirring reportage.”

O Magazine


“At once wonderfully humane and deeply troubling, the book offers an eye-opening tour of the increasingly unequal, unstable, and insecure future our country is racing toward.”



“Some readers will come because they're enamored of road narratives, but Bruders study should be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of work, community, and retirement.”

PETER C. BAKER, Pacific Standard


“Important, eye-opening journalism.”

KIM ODE, Minneapolis Star Tribune


“Bruder tells [this] story with gripping insight, detail and candor. In the hands of a fine writer, this is a terrific profile of a sub-culture that gets little attention, or is treated by the media as a quirky hobby, rather than a survival strategy.”

PETER SIMON, Buffalo News


“Bruder is a poised and graceful writer.”

PARUL SEGHAL, New York Times


“In the early 20th century, men used to ride the rails in search of work, sharing camps at night. Today, as Bruder brilliantly reports, we have a new class of nomadic workers—elderly people who travel in their RV's from one Amazon warehouse to another, as short-term jobs become available. There's a lot to cringe at here—from low pay and physically exhausting work to constant insecurity. But surprisingly, Nomadland also offers its residents much-needed camaraderie and adventure, which makes this book a joy to read.”



“The campsite as the home of last resort, the RV used not for vacation but for survival: these are the makings of a new dystopia. Nomadland is a smart road book for the new economy, full of conviviality and dark portent.”



“Compelling, deeply researched and alarming.”

ELLIE ROBINS, Los Angeles Times


“A fascinating work of deep ethnography and compelling journalism . . . [a] necessary trip through a hidden American subculture living on the road.”

AMBER CORTES, The Stranger


“An excellent piece of immersion journalism and also a glimpse into an unexpected slice of American life.”

Christian Science Monitor


“What photographer Jacob Riis did for the tenement poor in How the Other Half Lives (1890) and what novelist Upton Sinclair did for stockyard workers in The Jungle (1906), journalist Bruder now does for a segment of today's older Americans forced to eke out a living as migrant workers. . . . [A] powerhouse of a book.”

CONNIE FLETCHER, Booklist, starred

“A revelatory nonfiction investigation of broke Americans living their post-recession lives on the road, mobility their sole possession.”

JUSTIN CLARK, LA Review of Books


“Bruder’s incisive and revealing eye upholds the dignity of workers that many would call disposable.”

TIM NORTON, Providence Journal


“Written with the grace and wealth of detail one finds in the work of creative nonfiction giants like Edward Abbey and John McPhee.”

Santa Barbara Independent


Nomadland exposes the reality most of us don’t see, while humanizing those who must rely on a modern-day version of riding the rails.”

PAUL TAUNTON, National Post (Canada)


“First-rate journalism...Nomadland is a powerful depiction of America in the wake of the Great Recession, frankly presenting people’s struggles to get by along with the hope and camaraderie that make those challenges endurable.”

Santa Fe New Mexican

Also featured in New York Magazine, TIME, LitHub, BUST, O: The Oprah Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Christian Science Monitor, Elle.com, Refinery29 + San Diego Magazine