Author: John Bowe • Published 2007 • Pages: 236 • Publisher: Random House
Most Americans are shocked to discover that slavery still exists in the United States. Yet 145 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the CIA estimates that 14,500 to17,000 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 U.S. 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 others.
In 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.
"...what did it mean that I was drinking someone else's misery for breakfast?"
(Bowe, pg. xiv)
Praise for Nobodies
“Investigative, immersion reporting at its best . . . Bowe is a master storyteller whose work is finely tuned and fearless.”
“A 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 Kansas?
“Bowe 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.”
–Condé Nast Portfolio
“Two hundred years after the slave trade officially ended, slaves are still being bought, sold, and cruelly exploited in the United States. The subject of human trafficking could hardly be more timely or more important, and Bowe sheds light on it with fine reporting and great compassion.”
—Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
NAMED ONE OF THE TWENTY BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE VILLAGE VOICE
"Change from the top down is a nice thing to dream about but really, ';who cares what happens to a bunch of pelagatos – a bunch of nobodies?'”
(Bowe, pg. 26)
John Bowe has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The American Prospect, National Public Radio’s This American Life, McSweeney’s, and others. He is the co-editor of Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy and US: Americans Talk About Love and co-screenwriter of the film Basquiat.
He is a recipient of 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; the Richard J. Margolis Award, dedicated to journalism that combines social concern and humor; and the Harry Chapin Media Award for reportage of hunger– and poverty-related issues.
"As George Orwell once noted, ‘Economic injustice will stop the moment we want it to stop, and no sooner, and if we genuinely want it to stop, the method adopted hardly matters.’”
(Bowe, pg. 276)