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The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today
The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today
by Kevin Bales
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from $5.22

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Survey of 21st Century Slavery in U.S., November 14, 2009
I offer my first- and second-year college writing students a number of books from which to write about each semester on the subject of victims of war, and I allow some of these books to be on war-like conditions: after all, events like rape and murder recreate war episodes to victims even if they are not part of a war. Certainly, "The Slave Next Door" qualifies. While its advocacy against human slavery is clear and strong, it maintains an objectivity and seeks to gather facts in great detail to bolster its assertions that (1) slavery is much more common than most of us realize, (2) many of us see or are affected by it each day in the products we use and the culture we experience, and (3) it won't go away easily or soon. The book is, in these regards, somewhat depressing, but at the same time it is filled with narratives of individual illustrative cases that make it a very interesting read.

One of the more worthy facts and illustrative stories in "Slave" is that sex slavery accounts for a smaller part of slavery in the U.S. than docudramas on TV suggest: agricultural, small-business, and even domestic household slavery all are huge businesses. Individual stories are sometimes heartbreaking and often frustrating in their outcomes as public and private agencies fight, often valiantly but with often with little or no useful result, to help men, women, and children who have been grabbed, tricked, or otherwise spun by a web of lies and violence into a world they never wanted or expected and don't know how to handle. The chapters are arranged such that it is quite possible to read and focus on just a few to gain important knowledge on specific aspects of the slave trade in the U.S.

What are the book's weaknesses? It is somewhat repetitive, partly to get its points across and partly, I would assume, from the author's assumption that many people will in fact choose just a few chapters to read. There is also, especially in the final chapters, quite a bit of advocacy for change, not to mention intricate details of state and federal laws, mandates, and organizations, little of which helped or attracted me as a reader. On the other hand, I have to admit I'm glad these details are there--on the record--for individuals and groups who might need them to help create new organizations or projects to fight U.S. slavery. One more wish I had is that even though books like this normally don't have illustrations, I would have enjoyed having photos or even a short photo section of eight to sixteen pages--especially after seeing TV documentaries about such slavery--so that I could see the faces of those who were enslaved and those who enslaved them.

But these are minor concerns. In all, I strongly recommend "Slaves" to anyone interested in the subject.


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