A brilliant investigation into the true cost of our bargain economy — and the end of consumerism as we know it
Ours is the age of discount: we want more, cheaper, better. But the result is low wages, urban blight, environmental damage, labour abuses, a cookie-cutter model of progress, and now an international economic crisis. With an eye for documentary storytelling and investigative detail, Gordon Laird traces the bargain from its humble dollar-store origins to its place as global juggernaut. From Alberta’s tar sands to China’s factories, from Las Vegas to the Arctic Circle, a single question emerges: how will we survive the bargain?
Gordon Laird is the bestselling author of Power and Slumming It at the Rodeo, and the winner of several National Magazine Awards. His writing and commentary have been featured on CNN, National Public Radio, and CBC Radio and Television, and in Mother Jones, Maclean's, and more. He lives in Calgary.
A Globe and Mail Notable Book
“In a masterful blend of facts and metaphors, Laird tells a story of bargain retailing that is interesting in its own right. . . . evocative . . . Laird lays bare the cost of those bargains in compelling detail.”
— Globe and Mail
“Gordon Laird is a reporter of rare skill and extraordinary thoughtfulness, and he has fixed his keen eye on one of the most crucial questions of this young, tumultuous century: the true cost of things.”
— Chris Turner, author of The Geography of Hope
“Gritty and entertaining . . .”
— Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands
“An alarm call, but not alarmist.”
— Kirkus Reviews
"In grab-you-by-the-lapels stories, Laird tells you the real cost of your got-it-for-nothing storegasm."
— Greg Palast, investigative journalist and author of the New York Times bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
“Thorough, informed and relevant . . . Neither shrill nor self-absolving, Laird quietly questions where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”
— Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“[Laird] plots a direct line from our bargain-hungry hands to disasters such as Alberta’s tar sands, human-rights abuses in China and our hollowed-out economy.”
— Canadian Geographic