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The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Theives, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers Hardcover – May 31, 2011
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"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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Medical treatments involving blood and organs are not like taking your car for an oil change, too many take a cavalier attitude and are not aware of what happens behind the scenes to supply markets with the materials for the new human organ replacement markets. For this reason those who routinely use blood and organ products have opened a new realm of rejection issues because of not understanding that blood is as complex as any other organ and both are more than just pieces of the human anatomy that can be replaced like an automobile oil filter.
This is a great read if you are interested in what happens to support modern medical therapy in cutting edge countries.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. i bought it at Barnes and NObles for $6 and it was worth it. fast reaadPublished 4 months ago by Miguel Gonzalez
This was a sad insight into how we have put values onto human beings based on their parts. At times, I was disgusted by how people are taken advantage of to help those who are... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Sksk
Sad,sad story. Man is truly a wicked creature. Where is God or at least morals or any form of goodness?Published 13 months ago by Joanne D. Dale