SLAVES AMONG US

THE HIDDEN WORLD OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

A vital guide for teachers, nonprofits, and others seeking to understand the global fight against slavery.

A brief, clear introduction to the tragedy of human trafficking in the 21st century.

A 10th-generation Parisian who lives in London, Villa brings a welcome global perspective to her overview of present-day slavery and how readers can fight it. She has served for more than a decade as CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which promotes human rights, and she draws heavily on that experience as she describes the brutal fates of the estimated 40 million people worldwide who are “forced to work, through fraud or threat of violence, for no pay beyond subsistence.” Roughly 30 percent of the victims are trafficked for sex while 70 percent are trapped in involuntary labor. She includes oral histories of three survivors, two of whom suggest the range of forms modern slavery takes: Deependra Giri, an educated Nepalese man who signed a two-year contract for an office job in Qatar only to have to surrender his passport when he arrived, which meant he couldn’t leave when his employer paid a fraction of the agreed-upon salary; and Marcela Loaiza, a dancer in Colombia lured to Tokyo by a con man who promised to make her famous but whose associates demanded, once she got to Japan, that she pay them $50,000 by working as a prostitute and threatened harm to her family if she didn’t comply. Some of the crimes Villa describes, like sex trafficking, have garnered wide attention, but other shadowy practices are less well known. These include the Kafala, or sponsorship, system in place in the Persian Gulf region, which allows employers to confiscate migrant workers’ passports and deny them exit permits until the company says they can leave. In the most useful parts of the book, Villa instructs readers on what they can do to support anti-slavery efforts, including donating to groups like the Human Trafficking Legal Center, which provides free lawyers for victims. Villa’s use of real names and photos of survivors lends credibility to stories that might otherwise be too shocking to believe.

A vital guide for teachers, nonprofits, and others seeking to understand the global fight against slavery.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5381-2728-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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