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Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate, by Michael Yates

By an everyday book reader
June 1, 2007

The road trip is a staple of modern American literature. But nowhere in American literature, until now, has an economist hit the road, observing and interpreting the extraordinary range and spectacle of U.S. life, bringing out its conflicts and contradictions with humor and insight.

"Here's the travel book the chamber of commerce doesn't want you to have. It shows you the way to places of great beauty, but it also invites you into the parts of real America that other books avoid - gated communities in small towns, homeless kids in our cites, poor people of color toiling at arduous and poorly-paid labor, burgeoning economic inequality, and environmental destruction in our national parks. Read this book. It might change the way you see our country the next time you travel." - Jim Hightower, national radio commentator and author of Thieves In High Places

Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate: An Economist's Travelogue
by Michael D. YatesBook Picture

Softcover: 208 pages
ISBN: 9781583671436, 1583671439
Monthly Review Press
March 2007

Disillusioned with academic life after thirty-two years teaching economics, Michael Yates took early retirement in 2001, with a pension account that had doubled during the frenzy of the late 1990s.

He and his wife Karen have traveled around the country since then, often spending months at a time on the road. Michael and Karen spent the summer of 2001 in Yellowstone National Park, where Michael worked as a hotel front-desk clerk. They moved to Manhattan for a year, where he worked for Monthly Review. From there they went to Portland, Oregon, to explore the Pacific Northwest. After five months of travel in Summer and Fall 2004, they settled in Miami Beach. Ahead of the 2005 hurricane season, they went back on the road, settling this time in Colorado.

Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate is both an account of their adventures and a penetrating examination of work and inequality, race and class, alienation and environmental degradation in the small towns and big cities of the contemporary United States.

MICHAEL D. YATES is associate editor of Monthly Review. He was professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown for many years. He is the author of Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy and Why Unions Matter.

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