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Customer Review

on October 12, 2008
"A Crime So Monstrous" presents a gripping, first-hand account of modern day human slavery. Author Benjamin Skinner takes readers into the dark underworld of human bondage and exploitation that is all but a plane and cab ride from the life of luxury we enjoy in the West. Skinner traveled the world to meet slavetraders, slaves and ex-slaves. He tells the stories of several individuals who have been subjected to horrific, inhumane treatment and put through the most horrendous of conditions. The result is an intense, authentic book that people must read.

Skinner hits the most desperate locales where today's slavery has taken hold. The seediest spots in Haiti, Moldova, Sudan, India, and Dubai set the scenes of the book. Skinner tells the stories of victims of slavery from each of those regions. But he does so in a way that both details some of the horrors they experienced while giving voice to their dignity and pointing to their hopes of overcoming the challenges that remain for former slaves once the chains have been broken.

Along the way, Skinner also meets with former U.S. Ambassador John Miller, who headed the U.S. State Departments office to combat trafficking in human persons. Skinner's portrait of Amb. Miller is enjoyable and offers a bit of relief to readers. This book is NOT light reading. It can be just plain difficult to pick up on a sunny day. The horrors of slavery can certainly make one want to avoid it. But the fact that the evil of slavery exists in the world today is reason itself to read this important book.

Skinner adopts modern-day abolitionist Kevin Bales' definition of "slave": a person who is compelled to work, through force or fraud, for no pay beyond subsistence. This definition seems right to me. Apparently, there is some debate in abolitionist circles about the definition of slavery--or at least debate over what the emphasis of anti-slavery efforts should be today. "Wage slavery" and sex slavery are both evils, but some abolitionists differ in means and priorities in eradicating them both. Skinner gets into the fray here, and gives a picture of Michael Horowitz that is none too complimentary. This reviewer simply doesn't have the background to assess all of Skinner's evaluations. But readers of the book should at least take time to read Logan Paul Gage's May 5, 2008 "First Things" review of Skinner's book to get another perspective.

If slavery isn't wrong, nothing is wrong. "A Crime So Monstrous" is a book about an evil that must be stopped. Get it. Read it.
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