Book Review: “The Slave Next Door”


by Amanda Kloer

9780520255159If you read one book on human trafficking this year, make it The Slave Next Door.  In this exciting and compelling expose on human trafficking, authors Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter systematically break down all the media stereotypes of who is and isn’t a trafficking victim, why trafficking happens, and how this systemic exploitation works.  The authors handle delicate and painful material with grace and aplomb, resulting in an unforgettable education in the reality of modern-day slavery.

While the book is non-fiction (that rare brand of accurate, interesting non-fiction), much of the book is based on narratives of real slavery cases and the stories of the people involved in them.  Throughout the book, you connect with the slaves, their families, and the men and women who fight to bring them to freedom.  The stories are also very timely; one prominent “character” in many of the stories is Lou de Baca, who was recently confirmed as the new U.S. anti-trafficking czar.

The Slave Next Door does what much other media around the issue of slavery has failed to do: tell a complex, often depressing story in a digestible, enjoyable, and ultimately uplifiting way.  Despite the heavy subject matter, you finish the book motivated and energized.  Ironically for a book about slavery, the central message I got when I was done was that the world is a place full of hope and possibility for everyone, no matter how dire the circumstances seem.  And any book that can make slavery = hope, is a good read. 

I cannot tell you strongly enough to buy The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today

About the Authors: Ron Soodalter is an author of many works, including Hanging Captain Gordon, the story of the life and trial of a slave trader in the 19th century.  Kevin Bales is the author of several books, and the President of Free the Slaves, an NGO which fights modern-day slavery.  In addition to being gifted authors and dedicated activists, I can say that Ron and Kevin are simply human beings of the highest caliber.

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