An intellectually rigorous and emotionally affecting account of modern enslavement.

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

AMERICA'S SLAVES OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM

A brief but exhaustive debut book looks at human trafficking.

Slavery remains a stubborn feature of the modern world; in fact, some specialists say that there has never been more of it. Even worse, citizens’ inadvertent sponsorship of it is simply unavoidable. According to Mehlman-Orozco, “Unfortunately, every single American has used, consumed, worn, and purchased products of slavery at multiple points throughout their life.” But very little of this phenomenon conforms to the public’s general perception of slavery’s nature, partly due to persistent mischaracterizations in the media. The author, an expert in human trafficking with a Ph.D. in criminology, law, and society from George Mason University, explains that various kinds of coerced labor exist all around us. And while some of that trafficking is a function of kidnapping and physical imprisonment, much of it is far subtler, the result of varying strategies of duress designed to deceive the vulnerable. Mehlman-Orozco distinguishes between two primary types of human trafficking: sexual and labor. In the case of the former, there are many different iterations, ranging from the child runaway defrauded into believing she was being given a shot at a better life to newly arrived immigrants duped into long-term indentured servitude, coerced into using their bodies to pay off debt. Labor trafficking is more common and less effectively policed; Mehlman-Orozco discusses a nail salon that imports new technicians from Vietnam and then compels them to work interminable hours for meager pay. Her meticulous research is based not only on a survey of the available literature, but also on her own interviews with victims, perpetrators of human trafficking, and the consumers who patronize their businesses. Mehlman-Orozco’s prose is both lucid and emotionally stirring, and she often illustrates her points with personal anecdotes to paint a picture that transcends statistical analysis. The subject matter can be disturbing—the chapter devoted to child sex tourism is particularly harrowing—but she navigates that dark terrain with grace and professionalism. She helpfully suggests a number of ways the response from law enforcement could be greatly improved, including empowering otherwise disenfranchised victims to come forward.

An intellectually rigorous and emotionally affecting account of modern enslavement.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4408-5403-3

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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