Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy by John Bowe
From Publisher’s Weekly:
In this eye-opening look at the contemporary American scourge of labor abuse and outright slavery, journalist and author Bowe (Gig: Americans Talk About their Jobs) visits locations in Florida, Oklahoma and the U.S.-owned Pacific island of Saipan, where slavery cases have been brought to light as recently as 2006. There, he talks to affected workers, providing many moving and appalling first-hand accounts. In Immokalee, Florida, migrant Latino tomato and orange pickers are barely paid, kept in decrepit conditions and intimidated, violently, to keep quiet about it. A welding factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma imported workers from India who were forced to pay exorbitant “recruiting fees” and live in squalid barracks with tightly controlled access to the outside world. Considering the tiny island capital of Saipan, Bowe explores how its culture, isolation and American ties made it so favorable an environment for exploitative garment manufacturers and corrupt politicos; alongside the factories sprouted karaoke bars, strip joints and hotels where politicians were entertained by now-imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The detailed chapter gives readers a lasting image of the island, touted a “miracle of economic development,” as a vulnerable, truly suffering community, where poverty rates have climbed as high as 35 percent. Bowe’s deeply researched, well-written treatise on the very real problem of modern American slavery deserves the attention of anyone living, working and consuming in America.
I really enjoyed this book. In college, I was a sociology major, and I took most of my soc classes in the areas of human rights, sociology of politics, and social justice, so this topic very much interests me to begin with, but I think anyone with even a slight interest in human rights would enjoy this fascinating look at slavery in American companies. I found Bowe to be an excellent and insightful journalist, even when he made his opinions about what he was reporting blatantly obvious to the reader. This isn’t an easy read, it took me awhile to get through it, but definitely worth the time. I’d highly recommend Nobodies.
Rating: 9 out of 10.