Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of


Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy Most Americans are shocked to discover that slavery still exists in the United States Yetyears after the Emancipation Proclamation, the CIA estimates that , to, foreigners are trafficked annually into the United States, threatened with violence, and forced to work against their will Modern people unanimously agree that slavery is abhorrent How, then, can it be making a reappearance on American soil Award winning journalist John Bowe examines how outsourcing, subcontracting, immigration fraud, and the relentless pursuit of everyday low prices have created an opportunity for modern slavery to regain a toehold in the American economy Bowe uses thorough and often dangerous research, exclusive interviews, eyewitness accounts, and rigorous economic analysis to examine three illegal workplaces where employees are literally or virtually enslaved From rural Florida to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the US commonwealth of Saipan in the Western Pacific, he documents coercive and forced labor situations that benefit us all, as consumers and stockholders, fattening the profits of dozens of American food and clothing chains, including Wal Mart, Kroger, McDonald s, Burger King, PepsiCo, Del Monte, Gap, Target, JCPenney, J Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, and othersIn this eye opening book, set against the everyday American landscape of shopping malls, outlet stores, and Happy Meals, Bowe reveals how humankind s darker urges remain alive and well, lingering in the background of every transaction and what we can do to overcome them Praise for Nobodies Investigative, immersion reporting at its best Bowe is a master storyteller whose work is finely tuned and fearless USA TodayA brilliant and readable tour of the modern heart of darkness, Nobodies takes a long, hard look at what our democracy is becoming Thomas Frank, author of What s the Matter with KansasBowe dramatizes in gripping detail these stolen lives O The Oprah Magazine The vividness of Bowe s local stories might make you think twice before reaching for that cheap fruit or pair of discount socks Cond Nast PortfolioNAMED ONE OF THE TWENTY BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE VILLAGE VOICE

  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
  • John Bowe
  • English
  • 22 June 2018
  • 0812971841

About the Author: John Bowe

Librarian Note There isthan one author in the Goodreads database with this name.John Bowe born 1964 has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The American Prospect, National Public Radios This American Life, McSweeneys, and others He is the co editor of Gig Americans Talk About Their Jobs, one of Harvard Business Reviews best books of 2000, and co screenwriter of the film Basquiat In 2004, he received the J Anthony Lukas Work in Progress Award, the Sydney Hillman Award for journalists, writers, and public figures who pursue social justice and public policy for the common good, and the Richard J Margolis Award, dedicated to journalism that combines social concern and humor.



10 thoughts on “Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy

  1. says:

    I saw the author, John Bowe, on The Daily Show this past fall He had suprisingly little charisma for someone who wrote a book on such an interesting subject The book is divided into thirds, each one focusing on a case of modern slavery in the United States The first takes place in Florida in the tomato and orange grove, the second in Tulsa at a steel mill Both of these chapters clearly show the effects of our desire for low cost food and products The third chapter the author travels to Saip I saw the author, John Bowe, on The Daily Show this past fall He had suprisingly little charisma for someone who wrote a book on such an interesting subject The book is divided into thirds, each one focusing on a case of modern slavery in the United States The first takes place in Florida in the tomato and orange grove, the second in Tulsa at a steel mill Both of these chapters clearly show the effects of our desire for low cost food and products The third chapter the author travels to Saipan, a U.S commonwealth that is a major player in the garment industry and sex trade His take on what goes on there is muchgray He does the math and finds there is a clear reason people travel from China to work or run factories there, its profitable His final conclusion is the most intriguing part of the book He points out that the marginalized workers far outnumber us, and these people are not educated, but they re certainly not stupid, and I very much doubt they can be lied to or angered indefinitely In other words who will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes

  2. says:

    This book was required reading for my job My understanding of consumer culture and the contemporary slave trade deepened, but I m short on solutions after reading it Mainly, it took the joy our of Target for me while not really replacing it with other viable options It s hard to know what lifestyle changes will actually make a difference to the corporations to the point that they would be motivated to change their practices and this book didn t really help me with that question That said, an This book was required reading for my job My understanding of consumer culture and the contemporary slave trade deepened, but I m short on solutions after reading it Mainly, it took the joy our of Target for me while not really replacing it with other viable options It s hard to know what lifestyle changes will actually make a difference to the corporations to the point that they would be motivated to change their practices and this book didn t really help me with that question That said, an important thing to read if you re interested in social justice

  3. says:

    The problem I had with this book is that Bowe undercuts his own analysis by too often expressing ambivalence about the labor abuses described in his case studies Is it really slavery, he asks over and over Maybe the laborers are just disgruntled The introduction is a strong, thoughtful argument about how and why the immense, ugly, growing gap between rich poor might lead us toward a new era of open, widespread slavery The basic premise is that democratic principles and belief in basic huma The problem I had with this book is that Bowe undercuts his own analysis by too often expressing ambivalence about the labor abuses described in his case studies Is it really slavery, he asks over and over Maybe the laborers are just disgruntled The introduction is a strong, thoughtful argument about how and why the immense, ugly, growing gap between rich poor might lead us toward a new era of open, widespread slavery The basic premise is that democratic principles and belief in basic human rights is the firewall protecting the global working class from outright slavery However, once Bowe gets into his chapters he is often unfocused and undisciplined and falls into a sort of talking to himself about how maybe things aren t so bad after all The only chapter in which he clearly resolves his doubts about whether the situation constitutes slavery is the farmworker chapter But this appears to be due to the influence of the group that mentored him, the Coalition of Imokalee Workers I wish he had been similarly mentored by activists in each of his other locales because in those chapters he sometimes loses the thread completely

  4. says:

    This is an extremely readable book about slavery in the United States today Actual slavery not just low wages People forced to work for little or no pay and locked up in substandard dormitories or trailers and unable to leave, with their passports confiscated and threats to harm their families back home if they attempt to escape This country really is becoming globalized in all the wrong ways in its race to the bottom for working people.Bowe examines cases of Latino agriculture workers in S This is an extremely readable book about slavery in the United States today Actual slavery not just low wages People forced to work for little or no pay and locked up in substandard dormitories or trailers and unable to leave, with their passports confiscated and threats to harm their families back home if they attempt to escape This country really is becoming globalized in all the wrong ways in its race to the bottom for working people.Bowe examines cases of Latino agriculture workers in South Florida, Indian welders in Tulsa, and garment workers in Saipan it answers the uncomfortable questions some of us have but would rather not probe when we purchase stuff that is unrealistically cheap, be it t shirts or orange juice

  5. says:

    Summary Most Americans would be shocked to discover that slavery still exists in the United States Yet, most of us buy goods made by people who aren t paid for their labor people who are trapped financially, and often physically In Nobodies, award winning journalist John Bowe exposes the outsourcing, corporate chicanery, immigration fraud, and sleights of hand that allow forced labor to continue in the United States while the rest of us notice nothing but the everyday low price at the checkou Summary Most Americans would be shocked to discover that slavery still exists in the United States Yet, most of us buy goods made by people who aren t paid for their labor people who are trapped financially, and often physically In Nobodies, award winning journalist John Bowe exposes the outsourcing, corporate chicanery, immigration fraud, and sleights of hand that allow forced labor to continue in the United States while the rest of us notice nothing but the everyday low price at the checkout counter Based on thorough and often dangerous research, exclusive interviews, and eyewitness accounts, Nobodies takes you inside three illegal workplaces where employees are virtually or literally enslaved Random House WebsiteWhy I didn t finish this book It was hurting my soul.I m not kidding about the above statement Because I am currently underemployed, my weekly grocery budget is about 30 and that includes pet food, bathroom stuff, cleaning products, etc so even though it kills my soul a little each week, I have to shop a Wal mart or I could never get everything I need I have hopes of one day switching to purchasing organic food that is ethically produced This book revealed a real life modern day slave ring in the United States and I m not talking about sex slaves, but slaves of the physical labor variety The fact that the food I buy every week is not only full of pesticides, ruining individual farmers and the environment, but is also the result of slave labor makes my heart break evenand so I just stopped reading I shouldn t bury my head and the minute I get a new job will change my shopping habits, but even that won t do a whole lot to help the people being persecuted all around me Some real legal action needs to be taken and I hope this book will help take steps in the right direction

  6. says:

    I don t know if I ll ever finish this book, since I only needed to read enough for my project I read the introduction, the Tulsa case and the conclusion What I do know is that this is an amazing work John Bowe managed to be a likable voice, challenging and daring, while unafraid to question his own thoughts, reasoning and perception His in depth interviews with several people from both sides of the Tulsa case were very impressive, and I loved the fact that he himself was in doubt of whether I don t know if I ll ever finish this book, since I only needed to read enough for my project I read the introduction, the Tulsa case and the conclusion What I do know is that this is an amazing work John Bowe managed to be a likable voice, challenging and daring, while unafraid to question his own thoughts, reasoning and perception His in depth interviews with several people from both sides of the Tulsa case were very impressive, and I loved the fact that he himself was in doubt of whether this classifies as slavery or not His conclusion was highly interesting and straightforwardly bold, yet somehow managed to not be preachy nor aggressive at the same time What I do find lacking is the absent of suggestions for potential solutions I do get that the main purpose of this book is to get an extended understanding of contemporary slavery I, however, wish he discussed alternative actionsthan simply condemning the possible outcome of free trade Aside from that minor critique, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Nobodies With rich language and a broad scope of perspectives, Bowe successfully captured the essence of modern slavery in the US Highly recommended

  7. says:

    Didn t finish

  8. says:

    John Bowe is worried about the corrupting influences of globalization and issues a credible warning about the dangers of labor exploitation throughout the world he is an engaging writer and at points this book is a genuine page turner but, for all that, it fails in its main objective, to expose the sinister problem of slave labor in the USA It appears that in spite of Bowe s best efforts slave labor is still pretty much an abberation here He cites three cases migrant workers in Florida whos John Bowe is worried about the corrupting influences of globalization and issues a credible warning about the dangers of labor exploitation throughout the world he is an engaging writer and at points this book is a genuine page turner but, for all that, it fails in its main objective, to expose the sinister problem of slave labor in the USA It appears that in spite of Bowe s best efforts slave labor is still pretty much an abberation here He cites three cases migrant workers in Florida whose illegal status and ignorance of the language are the most coercive elements in keeping them enthrall to their employer East Indian workers at a welding plant in Tulsa who, he admits, might be sensaltionalizing their bondage in order to attain afavorable visa status and the quasi third world protectorate of American Saipan where Chinese apparel workers are systematically exploited by a backwater government in league with sweatshop owners And yet the closest he can come to a clear cut example of slavery is the sex workers in Saipan, who, it occurs to me, are enslaved pretty much the same way in every American city, so why travel to Saipan Well, because the rumors of labor abuse there were so rife Bowe believed he would find evidence of slavery, which was the agenda Sadly or not, depending on how you look at it he came up short At this point, he might have taken a different tact and written a book about the temptation to abuse labor in a globalized economy, which is pretty much where he ends up anyway, but he hangs on to the notion of slavery to the detriment of his findings and the weakening of his credibility Look, when you march out a word like slavery you d better have plenty of evidence of physical coercian to compell people to do something against their wills The presence of labor contracts, freedom of movement and the refusal of the enslaved to simply remove themselves from their conditions when they have the opportunity, smacks of a raw labor deal, not a tied to the whipping post scenario After all, the worst Bowe can come up with to indict the oppressors who stand in for slavemasters in this book comes from the mouth of a resident of Saipan who says of one such, He ll get away with as much as he can If you give him room, he ll abuse people If you watch over him, he ll comply Whatever he can do to make money he ll do A pretty standard observation about the attitude of many American employers and a ringing endorsement of the need for government regulation of labor, but an example of slavery That s a little too strong, certainly misleading, and perhaps a tad disingenuous

  9. says:

    I was very disappointed in this book John Bowe reemed Thomas Friedman and The World is Flat throughout I found it frustrating that he just couldn t stand on his own merits The idea here is that our hunger for status overrides our concern for others dignity The modern extension of this disregard is the willingness today of First World people to buy things from a global system of production that, we well know, is based on someone, somewhere, getting a raw deal Now I agree that we ignore th I was very disappointed in this book John Bowe reemed Thomas Friedman and The World is Flat throughout I found it frustrating that he just couldn t stand on his own merits The idea here is that our hunger for status overrides our concern for others dignity The modern extension of this disregard is the willingness today of First World people to buy things from a global system of production that, we well know, is based on someone, somewhere, getting a raw deal Now I agree that we ignore the exploitation of the third world to enjoy many of our deals and luxuries that people expect in our country I thought Bowe had great material to work with in this book and could have done a much better job in presentation The stories are fascinating and very necessary to education His arguments, however, were circular, unclear and extremely negative Basically saying that humans are greedy and that this exploitation won t stop does not promote any type of improvement I find myself muchlikely to buy into Friedman s arguments that people with consciences can make a difference and are choosing to do so, however small, throughout the world This idea promotes optimism and change I don t think that saying that you slept with the prostitutes of the third world and did drugs with them, makes your depressed argument of human greedviable We know about human greed What can we do to change it

  10. says:

    Just the fact that this book exists means it needs some attention I didn t finish just because I don t have the time for thisI don t need the details to be outraged by the fact of coerced and forced labor.How convenient that the general public is so outraged over illegal aliens This allows for this kind of stuff to happen, hidden in plain sight.The other day I heard an anecdote of racists in Florida, and I have to wonder if it is just coincidence that today I read in this book of several Just the fact that this book exists means it needs some attention I didn t finish just because I don t have the time for thisI don t need the details to be outraged by the fact of coerced and forced labor.How convenient that the general public is so outraged over illegal aliens This allows for this kind of stuff to happen, hidden in plain sight.The other day I heard an anecdote of racists in Florida, and I have to wonder if it is just coincidence that today I read in this book of several cases of slave labor in Florida So much of my world is invisible to mewhere my clothes are made, my material goods Whether WalMart or Target, if things are cheap, I have to wonder, who made these for less than livable wages Did they receive wages at all In the introduction, the author says, In the United States, most modern slavery involves the coercion of recent or trafficked immigrants Such cases are incredibly hard to detect, because much of hte time the perpetrators don t rely on chains, guns, or even the use of force All they require is some form of coercion threats of beating, deportation, death, or, perhaps most effective, harm to the victim s family back home should he or she eve speak up These cases occur in out of the way places that are, to quote one activist I met, beyond most Americans cognitive map

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