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A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery Hardcover – March 11, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743290070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743290074
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Today there are more slaves than at any time in history, according to journalist Skinner's report on current and former slaves and slave dealers. Skinner's travelogue-cum-indictment focuses most sharply on Haiti, Sudan, Romania and India, and is interspersed with a detailed account of the work of John Miller, director of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, or America's antislavery czar. Skinner reiterates that sexual trafficking is only one component of slavery, but devotes the bulk of this book (when it is not following Miller's State Department career) to this issue. The text teeters toward the travelogue, taking the reader to Dubai's most notorious brothel and Skinner's adventures in pos[ing] as a client to talk to women... [or] as an arms dealer to talk to traffickers. Nevertheless, Skinner's story merits reading, and not just because the cause is noble and the detail often fascinating, such as the moral complications of Christian Solidarity International's redemption or purchase of 85,000 slaves' freedom. Skinner's account of the internal workings of the State Department and the deep links to faith-based antislavery groups and their special interests is seriously newsworthy and, at times, moving. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A heartbreakingly important work" The Scotsman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 40 customer reviews
Skinner's writing is evocative.
In fact, about a week after finishing it, the message of the book was still sitting in my brain and I was prompted to e-mail Mr. Skinner and thank him for his work.
Robby Barthelmess
This book is making me rethink a lot of things we take for granted everyday.
M. Brugman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Megan A. Quitkin on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An absolutely astounding work of journalism, Ben Skinner's "A Crime So Monstrous" is a veritable call to arms for anyone concerned about the world's most disenfranchised people. By introducing us to his subjects and enabling us to understand both where they have come from and where they are going, Skinner's profiles of modern day slaves are candid, compassionate and completely unique. The writer, who has clearly devoted his heart and soul to his subject, often immersing himself in dangerous situations, exhibits enormous bravery as he details his travels in some of the world's most treacherous terrains. Whether he is infiltrating child slave markets in Haiti or interviewing a former sex slave in Romania, Skinner makes it clear that modern day slavery is a formidable threat to the human species, one that thrives on poverty, misguided policies and multi-sector corruption. But ACSM also proposes and encourages solutions as Skinner illuminates the amazing work of NGOs, ambassadors and activists committed to facilitating sustainable solutions. Clearly one of the best books ever written by a young writer, this is mandatory reading for the human community and one worthy of a permanent home in academic institutions, UN sessions, book clubs, libraries, and human rights circles.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. B. S. Wise on March 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I had the privilege of reading this book before publication, I was struck by the lengths to which Mr. Skinner traveled to write and research this great book. I confess to being largely ignorant of the volume and nature of human trafficking which still exists, but this book opened my eyes to the mechanics and politics of the oft-ignored plight of millions around the world.

I found it very easy to read and that Mr. Skinner's approach provides a comprehensive introduction to one of the world's most troubling problems. You will definitely not be sorry for choosing this book.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By James G. Workman on March 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This edgy, unflinching study of slavery plunges us into the bowels of countries I wouldn't want to fly over, let alone visit. As he calmly haggles down the price of human beings with grinning men and women, the author plays out roles that professional actors might flinch at. Of course for Skinner, there must have been no rehearsals, no second takes. It must have been raw. And yet somehow he still manages to weave in elegant and even beautiful prose - the evocative phrase describing India's enslaved `human jackhammers' is now permanently lodged in my lexicon - and even a few comic moments to relieve our tension. This book has been rightly compared with two brilliant, prize-winning books on genocide, and yet in some ways the author lures us farther and further into strange new territory. He explores the human nature and contours of an evil that has more shades of grey and more intimacy than genocide, an evil that appears to be expanding into new shadows and metastasizing like the hydra he describes at one point, rather than contracting under sunlight of exposure. It also, I think, requires a different kind of discipline: one has to interview the living victims and perpetrators of slavery as evil unfolds in the present, rather than probe unreliable memories to reconstruct horrific events of the past. Skinner's dialogues with hideous people leave us at the end of his book, sitting on the edge of our comfortable sofas, having silent conversations with our conscience, haunted in the best possible way.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By socialjusticereader on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I work for a well known organization in Southeast Asia working against trafficking and sexual exploitation. While I believe that Skinner had good intentions when writing this piece, I do not believe it was written in a way sensitive to the confidentiality needs of trafficking victims and survivors. Rather than painting a picture of How to Buy a Child Slave: 101 (which is my own title for this book), as well as (in my opinion) a "pat the US State department on the back" piece, I feel it could have done a much better job at challenging those in the West to take a closer look at responsible consumer habits, the demand for slaves, advocacy strategies for international slavery, and LAST BUT NOT LEAST - the exploitation and trafficking that is happening in OUR OWN BACKYARDS - the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ShamayimBlue on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Benjamin Skinner traveled around the world to witness firsthand the drudgery, abuse and depravity of modern-day slavery; he probably saw a good deal more than could fit into his book, which is an unsparing account of just how horrible and widespread slavery is. Skinner's writing is evocative. He brings to life various places around the globe including Haiti's cities and countryside, Romanian slums, the desert of Sudan, night clubs in Dubai, rural mines in India, and a well-to-do American suburb; his descriptions of human degradation, cruelty and greed are sickening. He talks to slaves (both current and former), slave traders, slave owners, anti-slavery activists, and government officials; throughout the book he also tells the story of U.S. official John Miller and his uphill and exhausting battle against slavery worldwide. To get some of his stories Skinner actually had to pose at various times as a potential slave buyer, and he briefly touches on the ethics of that choice (as well as his decision not to buy people's freedom from slave traders).

He succeeds in conveying the complexity of slavery, how and why it continues to exist and the various forms that it takes. In addition to the harrowing accounts of slaves themselves, he writes about the role that individuals, institutions, cultural norms and socioeconomic factors play in the perpetration of slavery and the creation of circumstances and conditions that allow slavery to flourish. It's frustrating to read about the way governments around the world turn a blind eye to slavery, even while paying lip-service to the idea of fighting it and upholding human dignity. The UN's record on this issue is unsurprisingly disgraceful as well.
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