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The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers Hardcover – May 31, 2011

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The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers + Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061936464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061936463
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Carney writes with a novelist's eye for character and detail and a muckraking reporter's gift for asking uncomfortable questions about stuff that most of us shy away from learning too much about."  (Cory Doctorow, editor at

 "Downright hallucinatory" - Laura Miller, Salon

"[A] lucid and alarming book . . . . Carney knows how to tell a story and digs deeply. --The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Carney writes with considerable narrative verve, slamming home the misery of what he has witnessed with passion and visceral detail. - New York Times

The Red Market is a reminder that there are some problems that science alone cannot solve. --Nature

The Red Market is a thrilling adventure into the global body business, with keen insight into the economics that drive it. Scott Carney investigates both our insatiable need for replacement human parts and the uncanny and often disturbing ways we go about getting them.” (Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail)

The Red Market is an unforgettable nonfiction thriller, expertly reported. Scott Carney takes us on a tremendously revealing and twisted ride, where life and death are now mere cold cash commodities.” (Michael Largo, author of Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die)

From the Back Cover

An in-depth report that takes readers on a shocking tour through a macabre global underworld where organs, bones, and live people are bought and sold on the red market

Investigative journalist Scott Carney has spent five years on the ground tracing the lucrative and deeply secretive trade in human bodies and body parts—a vast hidden economy known as the "red market." From the horrifying to the ridiculous, he discovers its varied forms: an Indian village nicknamed "Kidneyvakkam" because most of its residents have sold their kidneys for cash; unscrupulous grave robbers who steal human bones from cemeteries, morgues, and funeral pyres for anatomical skeletons used in Western medical schools and labs; an ancient temple that makes money selling the hair of its devotees to wig makers in America—to the tune of $6 million annually.

The Red Market reveals the rise, fall, and resurgence of this multibillion-dollar under­ground trade through history, from early medical study and modern universities to poverty-ravaged Eurasian villages and high-tech Western labs; from body snatchers and surrogate mothers to skeleton dealers and the poor who sell body parts to survive. While local and international law enforcement have cracked down on the market, advances in science have increased the demand for human tissue—ligaments, kidneys, even rented space in women's wombs—leaving little room to consider the ethical dilemmas inherent in the flesh-and-blood trade. At turns tragic, voyeuristic, and thought-provoking, The Red Market is an eye-opening, surreal look at a little-known global industry and its implications for all our lives.

More About the Author

Investigative journalist Scott Carney has worked in some of the most dangerous and unlikely corners of the world. He was contributing editor at Wired for five years and his work also appears in Mother Jones, Playboy, Foreign Policy, Discover, Outside, and Fast Company. He has appeared on a variety of radio and television stations including NPR and National Geographic TV. In 2010 he won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for the story "Meet the Parents" which tracked an international kidnapping-to-adoption ring . His first book, "The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers" was published by William Morrow in 2011. He first traveled to India while he was a student at Kenyon College in 1998 where he learned hindi. He has spent more than half a decade in South Asia. His website is

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Customer Reviews

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Scott Carney gives readers a lot to think about in "The Red Market."
James Denny
There is much material there that supplements this book, including links to related articles, as well as material on other projects.
Very well-written - the chapters contain a wealth of information and the book is hard to put down.
Megan Hartley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By cmpm on June 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first heard about The Red Market after reading an intriguing Publisher's Weekly interview [...] with author/journo/anthropologist Scott Carney. Based on an investigative journalism series for Mother Jones during 2009 and 2010, Carney delves into the black market trade of the human body - both living and deceased, whole and in part - following a set of circumstances that left him in the guardianship of the corpse of an American student overseas.

This is where most reviews would say something like "not for the faint of heart" or something like that and it's true. Carney has taken a very frank (and graphic) look inside the human body trade but he does so without coming off as a sensationalist. Much of his work revolves around India and China - places where poverty and overpopulation have contributed to the profiteering and exploitation of international adoption, kidney/other organ donations and fertility methods (egg harvesting/surrogacy).

I expected to be more shocked by accounts like those of an entire village of indigent women in India who saw kidney donation as their only way out of poverty (Note: it never is!) by agreeing to a small amount of money up front only to be swindled out of the additional money they were promised afterwards AND left without post-operative care. I was less shocked by these deceitful methods of procurement than I was by the attitude of the organ donation recipients: I don't care where it comes from or what it costs, just get it.

Carney has compiled his work into a quick read that poses excellent moral and ethical questions - and I believe sheds some much-needed light on a grim traffic that few here in the U.S. know or think about. I look forward to more interviews with the author about this work in the coming months.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Hyman VINE VOICE on June 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book that i really wanted to love. It started out extremely well, with some fascinating stories about the trade in human body parts. It covers many different aspects of the "red market", ranging from skeletons to kidneys, eggs, surrogate parenting, blood and even the gigantic business of collecting and selling human hair.

There are many stories that are chilling, and you can feel and understand the author's passion, as he takes you on a tour of some unexplored or purposefully ignored areas of this trade.

On the other hand, the book also suffers from what I would call righteous indignation. Yes, many of the stories are disturbing, some extremely so. And although the author raises some very interesting and valid points about the implications of anonymity in the marketplace, and the exploitation by the middle men, there is a point, somewhere towards the middle of the book, during which it goes beyond to have more blanket criticisms of both the free market economy and medical research.

The book would have been stronger, perhaps, by presenting some potential solutions to some of the issues rather than outright condemnation, and by having more focus on the facts and a bit less editorializing. Likewise, I would have preferred more science and less ethics.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Willemite on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
How can I sell thee? Let me count the ways. Actually, I don't need to. In The Red Market investigative journalist Scott Carney seems to have taken care of that. He covers the wealth of ways in which business people in the people business sell parts of people to other people. He covers the selling of bones, kidneys, human ova, personal gestation services, blood, and more. Geographically, most of Carney's work is in India, where he lived for several years, but he forays out to Cyprus, Spain and the USA for personal investigations.

The impact of what he reveals here is global. It appears that the West (primarily) has found new sources of third-world raw materials to exploit. And as with prior versions of such practices, the locals do not fare very well from the transaction. In addition, it appears that third-worlders are being employed to do some work that gives the term "labor-saving" new weight. Carney's focus is on the supply side of the equation, in particular its impact on the suppliers in this international meat market.

The material here is the stuff of horror films, reminiscent at times of the X-files or Sweeney Todd, although the consumption involved is not savory. Carney was teaching in India when a young woman in his program died. It was through his experience seeing that her remains were returned to the USA that he became aware of the way that once a person has passed on, pressure builds for their remains to be passed along.

He begins by digging into the business of grave-robbing in India, an enterprise that has supplied high-quality, sparkling product, intended largely for Western medical training. When the police arrived to investigate in early 2007, they could smell the stench of rotting flesh from nearly a mile away.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janelle Snow on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the average layman reader, this book is fantastic. I picked it up at school after they had displayed the cover. It really opens your eyes to just a sliver of the problems occurring in the world. It is a great, quick read. Better yet, the author lived these experiences and told his stories, instead of writing a book about what he THOUGHT was happening.
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