Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

Cheap Cover

A myth-shattering investigation of the true cost of America’s passion for finding a better bargain. From the shuttered factories of the Rust Belt to the strip malls of the Sun Belt-and almost everywhere in between-America has been transformed by its relentless fixation on low price. This pervasive yet little-examined obsession with bargains is arguably the most powerful and devastating market force of our time, having fueled an excess of consumerism that blights our land­scapes, escalates personal debt, lowers our standard of living, and even skews of our concept of time.

Spotlighting the peculiar forces that drove Americans away from quality, durability, and craftsmanship and towards quantity, quantity, and more quantity, Ellen Ruppel Shell traces the rise of the bargain through our current big-box profusion to expose the astronomically high cost of cheap.



The Hungry Gene

Hungry Gene Cover

In a rare blend of erudition and entertainment, acclaimed science journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell reveals the secret history and subtle politics behind the explosion of obesity. Shell traces the epidemic’s inception in the Ice Age, its rise during the Industrial Revolution, and its growth through the early days of medicine and into modernity. She takes readers to the front lines of the struggle to come to grips with this baffling plague — from a children’s food marketing convention, to the cutthroat race to find the obese gene, to a far-flung tropical island, where a horrifying outbreak of obesity has helped unravel the disorder’s genetic and evolutionary roots.

Offering an unflinching insider’s look into the radical and controversial surgical and pharmacological approaches used to combat what drug makers have dubbed the trillion-dollar disease, Shell takes aim at the collusion of industry and government that lies behind the crises and shows conclusively that obesity is not a matter of gluttony or weak will, but of an increasingly greedy culture preying on vulnerable human biology. Gripping and provocative, The Hungry Gene is the unsettling saga of how the world got fat — and what we can do about it.


A Child’s Place: A Year in the Life of a Day Care Center

A Child's PlaceA study of a multicultural, community-based day-care center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reveals the realities of contemporary child care, as seen through the eyes of a teacher and three families of diverse backgrounds.