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A Crime So Monstrous: A Shocking Exposé of Modern-Day Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking and Urban Child Markets

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Two hundred years after Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, over 27 million people worldwide languish in slavery, forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay. In Africa, hundreds of thousands are considered chattel, while on the Indian subcontinent millions languish in generational debt bondage. Across the globe, women and children, sold for se Two hundred years after Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, over 27 million people worldwide languish in slavery, forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay. In Africa, hundreds of thousands are considered chattel, while on the Indian subcontinent millions languish in generational debt bondage. Across the globe, women and children, sold for sex and labour, are already the second most lucrative commodity for organised crime. Through eviscerating narrative, A Crime So Monstrous paints a stark picture of modern slavery. Skinner infiltrates trafficking networks and slave sales on four continents, exposing a flesh trade never before portrayed with such vivid detail. From mega-harems in Khartoum to illicit brothels in Bucharest, from slave quarries in India to urban child markets in Haiti, he lays bare a parallel universe where lives are bought, sold, used and discarded. The personal stories related here are heartbreaking but in the midst of tragedy Skinner also discovered a quiet dignity that leads some to resist and aspire to freedom. He bears witness for them and for the millions that are held in the shadows - all victims of what is the greatest human-rights challenge facing our generation.


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Two hundred years after Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, over 27 million people worldwide languish in slavery, forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay. In Africa, hundreds of thousands are considered chattel, while on the Indian subcontinent millions languish in generational debt bondage. Across the globe, women and children, sold for se Two hundred years after Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, over 27 million people worldwide languish in slavery, forced to work, under threat of violence, for no pay. In Africa, hundreds of thousands are considered chattel, while on the Indian subcontinent millions languish in generational debt bondage. Across the globe, women and children, sold for sex and labour, are already the second most lucrative commodity for organised crime. Through eviscerating narrative, A Crime So Monstrous paints a stark picture of modern slavery. Skinner infiltrates trafficking networks and slave sales on four continents, exposing a flesh trade never before portrayed with such vivid detail. From mega-harems in Khartoum to illicit brothels in Bucharest, from slave quarries in India to urban child markets in Haiti, he lays bare a parallel universe where lives are bought, sold, used and discarded. The personal stories related here are heartbreaking but in the midst of tragedy Skinner also discovered a quiet dignity that leads some to resist and aspire to freedom. He bears witness for them and for the millions that are held in the shadows - all victims of what is the greatest human-rights challenge facing our generation.

30 review for A Crime So Monstrous: A Shocking Exposé of Modern-Day Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking and Urban Child Markets

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Offensive. I'm unhappy I feel a need to write a scathing review about a book dealing with an issue I care passionately about. But Skinner's book was tremendously offensive, and worse: misleading. Skinner deliberately shies away from discussing the more insidious forms of slavery, because they do not prove his thesis: neo-conservative evangelicals are working hard behind the scene to eradicate slavery (and we need more neo-conservative policies to end it!) It's shocking that a man could go to Hait Offensive. I'm unhappy I feel a need to write a scathing review about a book dealing with an issue I care passionately about. But Skinner's book was tremendously offensive, and worse: misleading. Skinner deliberately shies away from discussing the more insidious forms of slavery, because they do not prove his thesis: neo-conservative evangelicals are working hard behind the scene to eradicate slavery (and we need more neo-conservative policies to end it!) It's shocking that a man could go to Haiti and then come back and sing the praises of neo-conservatives, deliberately over-looking the horrifying role of foreign intervention in Haiti's affairs for the past two hundred years. Paul Farmer he is not. It's more shocking that the man wrote a book about slavery which spends such a vast amount of time singing the praises of affluent, comfortable politicians and policy advisors. Kevin Bales' infinitely better book, Disposable People, spent time dealing with actual slaves. He was not straining to be a Serious Journalist Bravely Risking His Life, but dealt with slaves, and what slavery looks like beyond our traditional images of cotton fields and such. It's disturbing how Skinner showers praise on a man, actually calling him 'an angel', while on the very same page that man brags about how he destroyed bipartisan coalitions to deal with slavery, because Hillary Clinton's existence offends him (though don't get me started on the word 'bipartisan', whose technical definition these days seem to be "liberals who are not actually liberal but centrists kowtow in technocratic fear to massively wealthy assholes who play games with political opinion and incited hatred"). The same man, sympathetically described by Skinner, has the audacity to be offended because Paul Wellstone theorized that modern slavery is closely bound with current global economic practices. What an idea! To wonder if the fact that there are more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history has something to do with a system which values profits above all else! It's not like Western Civilization was ever into slavery before! And white conservative men have always been so concerned about human rights, don'tchaknow? They were just a little bit more busy with making obscene amounts of money by abusing those same rights! And seriously, Fuck That. Open and widespread legal ownership of human beings ended in the mid-1800s because a bunch of pacifist, leftist people were willing to be humiliated and attacked by all the comfortable middle classes who didn't want to know where their clothing came from. Pretty sure it took a bunch of those determined outsiders decades and decades to provoke politicians to do anything about it (by sure, I mean go check out Bury the Chains). And I'm pretty sure modern slavery exists because there's a whole bunch of layers between us and the child slaves who make oriental rugs and bricks and t-shirts, and not quite because lower-middle-class black people in Haiti are so 'backward' (why, we should maybe invade again and show them how to be civilized! we are so good at that!! it's not like white people ever had slaves, or use slave labor to make their products, or have invaded countries for their own economic benefit and then rationalized it!! ha!!). Slavery in the world today is a massive, horrifying problem. Dealing with it is not helped by turning a small cadre of people isolated from the problem, who simultaneously promote policies which create the problem, into 'angels'. Or simplifying discussions of slavery so the reader does not have to think, and promoting thoughtless free trade as the answer. So that's how I feel. This is a misleading book which distorts an issue which affects all of us, and it is the more affluent who need to be made aware of what their lifestyle rests on top of, rather than pretending they're the ones who're going to end the oppression. I'm sorry to hate on a book which may lead more people to an awareness of modern slavery, but I'm more sorry that this is the book they're reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    lifelike

    please read Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy for a brilliant analysis of modern slavery. not only is kevin bales a better writer, but the content is better. also, skinner uses the book as a platform to tout his politics. i happen to disagree that slavery will instantly disappear when the government lifts its controls of big business.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tamora Pierce

    Slavery is forced work, under threat of or actual violence, for no pay. I already knew that slavery exists in our time. I knew it exists as multi-generational debt bondage in India, when one member of a family got a loan, and his grandchildren labor to pay off the much larger amount (there's interest) with no sign of ever getting free. I knew of sexual trafficking in women from eastern Europe and women and children in Thailand, the Philippines, and Mexico. I did not know that the people of southe Slavery is forced work, under threat of or actual violence, for no pay. I already knew that slavery exists in our time. I knew it exists as multi-generational debt bondage in India, when one member of a family got a loan, and his grandchildren labor to pay off the much larger amount (there's interest) with no sign of ever getting free. I knew of sexual trafficking in women from eastern Europe and women and children in Thailand, the Philippines, and Mexico. I did not know that the people of southern Sudan, who are murdered in genocidal rampages, are also being swept up by the militias and kept for home work or sold. I did not know that it is possible to buy a child in Haiti for $60, or as the author puts it, "the cab ride to JFK" (Kennedy airport outside New York City. This book is shattering. It gives background and it gives the actual amounts that buy and sell people. (The original debt of one Indian man's grandfather was somewhere around 57 cents. With interest, it is now around $500.) It gives the ebb and flow of the civil wars in Sudan, the efforts of slave redeemers, and the fate of those who they have bought out of slavery. And the light it casts on the United States government and on the U.N. is not a favorable one. Skinner is not vicious, but his mild prose is damning as he relays reports about U.N. personnel, sent into an area to cut trafficking, who build a brothel for themselves, or about U.N. agencies who change their reports on the promise, not the reality, of a government to do better. If you're easily upset, if you don't like to read about violence, this isn't the book for you. But if you want to be informed, if you want to let Obama know you're watching to see that our government does support its promise to fight slavery, if you want to see what you can do to support those who are fighting slavery, this is a good book. It's as readable as a novel, if a lot harder to bear. If you'd rather just join the fight and spare yourself the book, Skinner speaks very highly of these folks: Free the Slaves

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I heard Skinner speak about an article he wrote on my local NPR's station wonderful, brillant program "Radio Times". Best show in the world. Really. Skinner's book is an overview of slavery in the modern world, and keep in mind that this isn't chain and sell them type of slavery. Skinner gives his defination earlier in the novel and quite simply illustrates it over the course of his novel. The stories are horrifying and the book is not a feel good. Because Skinner was writing and researching this I heard Skinner speak about an article he wrote on my local NPR's station wonderful, brillant program "Radio Times". Best show in the world. Really. Skinner's book is an overview of slavery in the modern world, and keep in mind that this isn't chain and sell them type of slavery. Skinner gives his defination earlier in the novel and quite simply illustrates it over the course of his novel. The stories are horrifying and the book is not a feel good. Because Skinner was writing and researching this book during the Bush Jr. presidency, he does focus on what Amercian politicans, in particular Bush could have done and did not do. He doesn't bash Bush, but he doesn't worship him either. In fact, while Skinner acknowledges what some neo-cons have done, he also condems them for what they haven't. The only politican that Skinner seemed to like was Miller, a Bush apppointee, though a former head of the Discovery Institute (no not Disovery Channel. The DI is the pro-creation theory think tank. Go watch Flock of Dodos and you see why I have some problems with Miller). In terms of politics, it is a rather balanced book. He doesn't outright insult politicans, but his use of adjectives while subtle lets you know how he feels. Still, because of the personal stories, and the fact that many of them are linked to sex, which seems to disprove his own thesis, I found the book slightly less edifiying than Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karina

    Appeals to emotion, which is fine for a book about slavery, but offers little hard data or analysis. Especially annoying is the author's endless description of his own experiences. I did not finish the book. I just don't trust a guy who uses slavery as an excuse to write pages and pages about how brave he was bribing border guards and talking to pimps while posing as a trafficker.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I think it is impossible to top Kevin Bales's book on this topic (Disposable people), and it is apparent that Skinner didn't even try that, and apologised several times throughout for it. This book attempts to break into different territory by making the Americans (policy maker and reader) the real argument of the book, and for someone who doesn't live in America, this is very annoying and tiresome. I found myself rolling my eyes when his hagiography of John Miller started in again, as his polit I think it is impossible to top Kevin Bales's book on this topic (Disposable people), and it is apparent that Skinner didn't even try that, and apologised several times throughout for it. This book attempts to break into different territory by making the Americans (policy maker and reader) the real argument of the book, and for someone who doesn't live in America, this is very annoying and tiresome. I found myself rolling my eyes when his hagiography of John Miller started in again, as his political career isn't that interesting to me and his struggle is still within the confines of the beltway. Some of the personal stories were interesting, the chapter on Haiti was the most promising, and it whet my appetite for more. The chapters on sex slavery and the Sudan were full of interesting anecdotes, but far too padded with the author's own desire to talk about himself. The problem is, there should be more research on the issue, and thus we end up believing a book is far better than it is simply because it has litte to compare it to. Good information, however on some of the mechanisms of the sexual slave trade in Europe, which is an argument that hits close to home as I have a teenage daughter who is exposed to some of these tricks "the loverboy" and the job advertisements and it is good to remind myself that no one should let down their guard.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Austen

    My rating is more of a 5 star plus a 2 star. I loved the writing - and I know how shallow that is, and I always feel rightfully like an idiot when I close a book on some important lives-at-stake issue and think, "Jeez, that was well-written," leaving the author who wants to change the world with that little checkmark - but jeez, this was really well-written. So five stars on the writing and the research and a lot of what he says - it's a really good book on the one hand. But 2 stars on the free My rating is more of a 5 star plus a 2 star. I loved the writing - and I know how shallow that is, and I always feel rightfully like an idiot when I close a book on some important lives-at-stake issue and think, "Jeez, that was well-written," leaving the author who wants to change the world with that little checkmark - but jeez, this was really well-written. So five stars on the writing and the research and a lot of what he says - it's a really good book on the one hand. But 2 stars on the free market hurrah. Any book that can detail such sad stories and blatantly say, e.g., that slavery is the only way making sand by hand could be economical, then end with the idea that freeing slaves is "just good business" because free people have incentive to work harder deserves a loss of stars. I don't think those sex slaves holed up in little cells submitting to 15+ clients a day are going to be working any harder if freed. Would those 10-year-old domestic slaves already working 16 hours a day put in another hour for the big bonus at the end of the week? I think not. Capitalism is all about exploitation and it goes very well with slavery, and that leaves conscientious capitalists with lame endings to their otherwise good books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nichole Lindgren

    I couldn't even finish this book. I thought this book would bring a voice to those that were being forced into modern day slavery but it was really just the voice of politicians and their life story. Do I really care about how some republican stalked his soon to be wife in order to find out her name and eventually marry her? No. What does that have to do with the tragedy of slavery. Too much politics, although I know that is a part of stopping it, and not enough exposure of the reality that is m I couldn't even finish this book. I thought this book would bring a voice to those that were being forced into modern day slavery but it was really just the voice of politicians and their life story. Do I really care about how some republican stalked his soon to be wife in order to find out her name and eventually marry her? No. What does that have to do with the tragedy of slavery. Too much politics, although I know that is a part of stopping it, and not enough exposure of the reality that is modern day slavery. I feel he stole their voice for his personal gain. Upsetting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terragyrl3

    A true revelation for me: Banning slavery is not the same as abolishing it. It’s thriving right under our noses! This book gives a reader plenty to tsk about (“because I don’t use prostitutes...”) but it also examines how slavery basically undergirds our consumer lifestyle. I loved this fascinating book, it changed my worldview, and it made me thankful to be a privileged American...but it is an ugly mirror that you can’t un-look at once you’ve looked.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tasmin

    Das Hörbuch ist sehr extrem gekürzt, das war sicherlich nicht einmal die Hälfte des physikalischen Buches. Und ich wollte das Buch jetzt eigentlich nicht noch einmal extra lesen. Aber was solls - in jedem Fall extrem lehrreich und wichtig. Wieso das nicht mehr beworben wurde, weiß ich auch nicht. Es ist so RELEVANT.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    There are 27 million slaves living in the world today --- more than at any other time in history. In the U.S., 13,000-17,000 slaves are trafficked annually into our country. If you read only one serious book this year, make it this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    As free citizens in a political democracy, we have a responsibility to be interested and involved in the affairs of the human community, be it at the local or the global level. Paul Wellstone Slavery continues today. Skinner concisely defines a slave as a person, forced to work, through threat of force, for no pay beyond subsistence. The scope of modern-day slavery is vast: there are more slaves today than at any other time in human history. Because of this scope, Skinner spends most of the book f As free citizens in a political democracy, we have a responsibility to be interested and involved in the affairs of the human community, be it at the local or the global level. Paul Wellstone Slavery continues today. Skinner concisely defines a slave as a person, forced to work, through threat of force, for no pay beyond subsistence. The scope of modern-day slavery is vast: there are more slaves today than at any other time in human history. Because of this scope, Skinner spends most of the book focused on a small number of nations: Haiti, Sudan, Romania, Moldova, India, and the United States. At the same time, he details the efforts of the U.S. government to end slavery in those countries, and at home (Skinner estimates there are as many as 50,000 slaves currently in the U.S., where slavery was allegedly abolished 140 years ago). This is a heartbreaking work. And Skinner reports this heartbreak with unflinching detail. Each of these personal stories and the dire locations accompanying them come to life through Skinner's words. It is, often times, tough to read because of the severe human tragedy these fellow humans have been forced to endure. Yet push on, gentle reader, through the heartache so you can retell the stories reported on these pages. Among the reviews on this page, there is some criticism of Skinner's reporting on his own plight – for instance – the author contracted malaria in Haiti, and suffered countless bouts of food poisoning. I found it served to authenticate these reports, rather than shine a spotlight on how brave he thought himself. Yet, these personal bits are understated, and at no point did I find them intrusive to the book's true subjects. Rather they serve to highlight the unity of the human contition. Skinner admits the people he met still haunt him. And the author put himself into some truly dangerous situations to bring his reports to light – for if the slave traders have no issue with physically harming or murdering a girl under their power, certainly these people would not think twice to eliminate an undercover journalist with whom they had just negotiated the sale of a slave. The issue of slavery was one of the few bright spots for the George W. Bush's administration, however, in the past two years, Skinner summed up the administration's efforts with three words: sparkle and fade. Hopefully, the next administration will take up the standard to end slavery. Skinner also reminds the reader of the late Senator Paul Wellstone's contribution to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The senator's death in 2002 made all the more tragic as the abolitionist movement lost a champion and loud voice within the U.S. Senate. If you read the book, please also – as Senator Wellstone once said -- take action by getting involved in the affairs of the human community. In fact, if you purchased the book, you've helped already: 25% of U.S. royalties go to Free The Slaves, a group that uses holistic, locally-based strategies through global partners to fight slavery, rehabilitate slaves and eradicate bondage. If Skinner's words touched you, I'd suggest you visit the Free the Slaves website.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Петър Стойков

    Макар да е интересно да се научи за различните видове принудителен труд (граничещ с робство) днес по света, книгата не предлага почти нищо друго по темата. Ако очаквате нещо като разследваща журналистика, ще се излъжете жестоко - а ще очаквате, щото точно това подсказва описанието и предговора. Авторът обаче очевидно е прекарал доста малко време в самите държави и не си е давал особено зор да разследва каквото и да е, защото 98% от цялата информация като че идва от официалните сводки на съответни Макар да е интересно да се научи за различните видове принудителен труд (граничещ с робство) днес по света, книгата не предлага почти нищо друго по темата. Ако очаквате нещо като разследваща журналистика, ще се излъжете жестоко - а ще очаквате, щото точно това подсказва описанието и предговора. Авторът обаче очевидно е прекарал доста малко време в самите държави и не си е давал особено зор да разследва каквото и да е, защото 98% от цялата информация като че идва от официалните сводки на съответните организации за борба с трафика на хора и принудителния труд, които могат да се намерят в интернет. Останалите 2 % е що годе интересното. Да не говорим, че авторът изкарва робството днес едва ли не най-големият проблем на човечеството, с който всички трябва да се борим, сякаш си нямаме друга работа освен да ни интересуват разни бананови държави, сякаш единственият начин да се оправи този проблем е с добродетелни "кръстоносни походи" от християнска благотворителност, и сякаш не е очевидно, че тия практики са резултат от провалената икономика и управление на тия държави, които ги позволяват. Много са ми смешни всякакви леви и десни-религиозни "активисти", които се фиксират върху някакъв проблем в някакви умрели държавици и тръгват да го "решават", да "ни информират" за бедственото положение, да ни карат да заемем "правилната морална позиция", да "заклеймим злото" и да даваме пари за гладуващи деца, спин и т.н. без да им светне, че ако не оправят първо самите държави, всякакви усилия за борба с произхождащите от липсата на държавност и икономика проблеми са само наливане на вода в каца без дъно. Ама целия тоя безсмислен труд кара съответните "активисти" да се чувстват важни и благородни, което всъщност май е единствената им истинска цел.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Griswold

    A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery is a series of stories spaning Hati, Eastern Europe, India, among other places and eventually ending in Miami with the arrest of someone envolved in the seedy slave trade. This book has two purposes in my eyes : First, it sheds a harsh blinding light on the issue of modern sex slavery and domestic and indentured slavery throughout the world. Secondly through actions and frusterations by John Miller and others connected with the Bush admi A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery is a series of stories spaning Hati, Eastern Europe, India, among other places and eventually ending in Miami with the arrest of someone envolved in the seedy slave trade. This book has two purposes in my eyes : First, it sheds a harsh blinding light on the issue of modern sex slavery and domestic and indentured slavery throughout the world. Secondly through actions and frusterations by John Miller and others connected with the Bush administration, Skinner shows how America is failing to properly confront the problem because of political and economic concearns. The second part is the human stories of coercion and false promises, broken trust, and pure evil. The rational mind cannot phathom what person would lay down a web of lies and then heartlessly enslave a person locking them away from family and friends while forcing them to perform the most intimate of human acts for money which they don't even see a dime of that money. This is the one small downside of the book, that the human stories are chopped up and divided among travel details or meetings with various officials like John Miller or Eisner for example. This can be a minor and passable thing that is easily dealt with just a little odd, this should be required reading for anyone interested in human trafficing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Every once in a while we're fortunate enough to read a book that truly resonates with whatever we're going through in life. I'm not sure if it's the timing of when I read this book (I'm applying for NGOs and non-profits), but I found the book absolutely amazing. By far, my favorite non-fiction book, and a top 5 book overall for me. I usually find non-fiction books too dry to digest, but Benjamin Skinner weaves together beautiful story-telling and human trafficking history and facts. Benjamin Skin Every once in a while we're fortunate enough to read a book that truly resonates with whatever we're going through in life. I'm not sure if it's the timing of when I read this book (I'm applying for NGOs and non-profits), but I found the book absolutely amazing. By far, my favorite non-fiction book, and a top 5 book overall for me. I usually find non-fiction books too dry to digest, but Benjamin Skinner weaves together beautiful story-telling and human trafficking history and facts. Benjamin Skinner is fundamentally a GREAT writer. We follow the author as he travels through several countries consumed by poverty, as he attempts to negotiate deals with traffickers and to interview victims of human trafficking, sometimes posing as a pimp, trafficker, and arms dealer when interviewing traffickers. Several themes emerged that I can't stop thinking about. Where do you draw the line between journalists and humanitarian? Am I doing enough and could I have done more? Are you willing to sacrifice your own personal happiness for your cause? If you're not into politics, the second chapter might bog you down, but it's worth getting through it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The author goes undercover to reveal how shockingly easy it is to purchase a fellow human being in many parts of the world. In doing so he reveals some surprising and not-so-surprising facts. Surprising: There are, literally, millions of slaves in the world today. Surprising: George Bush has done more than any other American president to combat modern slavery. Not-So-Surprising: The Bush administration's efforts to fight slavery are completely watered down and the UN is hesitant to even use the te The author goes undercover to reveal how shockingly easy it is to purchase a fellow human being in many parts of the world. In doing so he reveals some surprising and not-so-surprising facts. Surprising: There are, literally, millions of slaves in the world today. Surprising: George Bush has done more than any other American president to combat modern slavery. Not-So-Surprising: The Bush administration's efforts to fight slavery are completely watered down and the UN is hesitant to even use the term "slave" to describe the plight of these unfortunate folks. Not-So-Surprising: Bush's efforts in this area are designed to please the Christian right and protect our frenemies like Saudi Arabia and India. It's all pretty depressing - but well-written. Especially grim is the Indian family who live as slaves for several generations to pay off a $.60 loan their grandfather took out in the 1950's. If I haven't said it yet today let me say it now...I'm so happy to be an American.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    I'm rounding this up to 4 stars from 3.5. While it's important to his ultimate point, I felt like the author spent too much time on the character study of American politicians. At the end of the book, his points on the failure of American politics to adequately address this issue were quite poignant, but I felt they would've carried as much weight without all of the personal back story of the characters involved. Skinner tells the slaves' stories carefully and skillfully, and I appreciated the i I'm rounding this up to 4 stars from 3.5. While it's important to his ultimate point, I felt like the author spent too much time on the character study of American politicians. At the end of the book, his points on the failure of American politics to adequately address this issue were quite poignant, but I felt they would've carried as much weight without all of the personal back story of the characters involved. Skinner tells the slaves' stories carefully and skillfully, and I appreciated the interjections of his dark sense of humor now and again (e.g. his describing Ceaușescu's ghost as "perforated"). Overall, this is a good read that addresses human trafficking in a comprehensive manner (as opposed to focusing solely on the sex trade aspect of the issue).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen McRae

    I did not finish this book because the author's babble of the neoconservative evangelical agenda was what was on the table.I do feel that the subject matter of this book is a frightful stain on the world but helping people through the lord is serving none but your own arrogant beliefs.You are entitled to your beliefs but you become guilty of colonialism if you try to foster those beliefs on people in need.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ked Dixon

    It's a gut punch and you should read more books in this topic

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allison Ince

    Very heart wrenching!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rinku

    This was an informative book with moving naratives. I am inspired to read more books about modern day slavery to see how I can be a part of ending it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lit-Creek

    Ever wondered how to buy a slave? Is it even possible these days? Sure is. Skinner takes you on a short trip to Haiti to buy a child, aged between 8 and 12 for the price of the taxi ride you would have taken to the airport. The employment agent will sort out papers, passport for an additional small fee. You could have your own living child to do whatever you will with. In Haiti they call them restavek, a child labourer. Skinner has taken investigative journalism and balanced it on a razor thin e Ever wondered how to buy a slave? Is it even possible these days? Sure is. Skinner takes you on a short trip to Haiti to buy a child, aged between 8 and 12 for the price of the taxi ride you would have taken to the airport. The employment agent will sort out papers, passport for an additional small fee. You could have your own living child to do whatever you will with. In Haiti they call them restavek, a child labourer. Skinner has taken investigative journalism and balanced it on a razor thin edge, risking his life in a number of shady deals as he travels the world posing as a buyer or arms dealer to set meetings with pimps and traffickers, posing as a sex tourist to interview sex slaves, and riding along with abolitionists as they buy back stolen people. Once confronted with the people and their stories he could not help but get personally involved. The stories he tells are dark and violent, but the strength of the human spirit is always apparent. Skinner spent four years reporting in such places as Haiti, Sudan, India, Eastern Europe, The Netherlands, and America, the hot spots of slavery. He talked with dealers and organised crime figures, brokering deals for the lives of children, and women. He talked with families who had sold their children to agents, knowing what their lives would be, but hoping against all odds their child might have an opportunity to gain an education. In India, where millions of slaves exist still, he spoke to slaves and their owners, documenting the age old cast system, struggle, and mindset. He spoke with freed slaves, a woman who escaped her captors in Eastern Europe, and who now fights to give help to the girls still enslaved. Doing everything she can to reach out and offer help, posting stickers in phone booths, and rolling messages into a lipstick tube. Her story is especially painful. The book sometimes reads like a travel guide, his narrative style can be very gripping and provocative. The issues and personal stories in this book can be hard to read, as any sensitive person will feel their heart breaking, and perhaps, be a little relieved by the simple problems they face, put in perspective with those faced by millions of faceless others. "Rigorously investigated and fearlessly reported, A Crime So Monstrous is a passionate and thorough examination of the appalling reality of human bondage in today's world. In his devastating narrative, Ben Skinner boldly casts light on the unthinkable, yet thriving, modern-day practice of slavery, exposing a global trade in human lives. The abuses detailed in these pages are repugnant, but there is hope to be found: by giving voice to the victims, Skinner helps restore their dignity and makes crucial strides toward closing this shameful chapter in history." --Bill Clinton "In his fierce, bold determination to see the lives of modern-day slaves up close, Benjamin Skinner reminds me of the British abolitionist of two hundred years ago, Zachary Macaulay, who once traveled on a slave ship across the Atlantic, taking notes. Skinner goes everywhere, from border crossings to brothels to bargaining sessions with dealers in human beings, to bring us this vivid, searing account of the wide network of human trafficking and servitude which spans today's globe." -- Adam Hochschild "A great storyteller, Skinner brings the whole underworld of traffickers and their victims to life. At the same time, he shows how complex the phenomenon really is, and why the solutions of would-be abolitionists in this country have proven misguided or simply futile." -- Frances FitzGerald "A Crime So Monstrous is a remarkably brave and unflinching piece of reportage and storytelling. E. Benjamin Skinner bears witness, sharing stories so unsettling, so neglected, so chilling they will leave you shaking with anger. This should be required reading for policy makers around the world -- and, for that matter, anyone concerned about the human condition." -- Alex Kotlowitz "Ben Skinner does a great public service by exposing the massive scope of human trafficking in the world today. I appreciate his chapter on the heroic role Ambassador John Miller played in getting the U.S. government to stand against this evil." -- U.S. Senator John McCain "This book exposes the horrors of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, demanding attention to an issue that has for too long hidden in the shadows. Skinner's narrative takes us many different places around the world, but can lead to only one conclusion: The U.S. must do more to end this suffering." -- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    (From my wordpress blog.) What is slavery? E. Benjamin Skinner explores this question in his book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery. Skinner's offering is a well-written, bold account of his 4-year journey through the underground world of human trafficking and exploitation. He is unflinching in his accounts, and despite what he has seen, brings a voice of compassion and hope to a topic that many people are either unaware of or are only beginning to realize. Skinner takes (From my wordpress blog.) What is slavery? E. Benjamin Skinner explores this question in his book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery. Skinner's offering is a well-written, bold account of his 4-year journey through the underground world of human trafficking and exploitation. He is unflinching in his accounts, and despite what he has seen, brings a voice of compassion and hope to a topic that many people are either unaware of or are only beginning to realize. Skinner takes us to the streets and hills of pre-earthquake Haiti and the restavek culture; warn-torn Sudan and it's child soldiers and slave raids, Moldova's flourishing sex-trafficking both locally and internationally to the Netherlands, Dubai, Japan, Romania, Spain, and many more; quarries in northern India where entire families endure generations of forced labor due to debts that can be less than a dollar; and our own neighborhoods where slaves suffer physical, sexual, and emotional abuse within our midst, as well as the Washington offices where beaurocrats weigh the value of human life against the risk of damaging trade agreements. This is not an easy read if you have even the slightest amount of compassion for your fellow man. I became interested in Skinner after reading several articles he has published in venues like Time and Newsweek Interational about modern-day slavery and sex-trafficking, articles I discovered due to my own interest and involvement in local non-profits that are seeking to raise awareness of these travesties. Through his book, Skinner peels back the layers of slavery, introduces us to the wide range of individuals involved, and asks us to take a stand. We are given a glimpse into the humanity of victims and survivors, and the brutality and efficiency of those who buy and sell human lives. We are also given a choice, as Skinner writes in the final paragraphs of the Epilogue: "You can return to your status as 'an angel of light,' and purge your memory of the stories you read. Or you can get your hands dirty." A Crime So Montrous is by far only a sliver, a fleeting glimpse, of the overwhelming yet invisible issue of slavery. Despite a near-universal, hundred-year stance among world governments that slavery is illegal, there are an estimated 27 MILLION slaves worldwide. There are more slaves in our current times than at any other point in history. So, what is a slave? Skinner presents a definition from another book on the same topic, Kevin Bales' Disposable People: "a slave is someone who is forced to work, through fraud or threat of violence, for no pay beyond substinence." With this definition, are there not people we see every day, in our own towns and neighborhoods, who are enslaved? Skinner's book takes us beyond a mind-blowing, nearly unfathomable number and gives it a face, a story, a dream. He asks us to open our eyes to reality and not just sit content in our comfort zones, to step out and reach out, to show our own humanity in the face of inhumanity. In his final words, he challenges us all: "Slaves are not disposable people. They are unrealized potential. And they can do more than survive. They can lead. That, in the end, is why we fight." And that, in the end, is why I encourage you to read this book, to become aware, and to make the choice to get your hands dirty. Suggestions for further exploration: Disposable People, Kevin Bales, (2004), University of California Press. Free the Slaves Foundation, www.freetheslaves.net International Justice Mission, www.ijm.org Rush Hour [Traffic], (local organization I am involved with), www.rushhourtraffic.tv

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Benjamin Skinner did a very good job of tackling a tremendously complicated and difficult subject in this book. As he points out, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before, but they represent a smaller percentage of the world’s population than previously. “Slavery is a slippery and confounding evil, and persists despite twelve international conventions banning the slave trade, and over three hundred international treaties banning slavery.” It’s been estimated that there are 27 m Benjamin Skinner did a very good job of tackling a tremendously complicated and difficult subject in this book. As he points out, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before, but they represent a smaller percentage of the world’s population than previously. “Slavery is a slippery and confounding evil, and persists despite twelve international conventions banning the slave trade, and over three hundred international treaties banning slavery.” It’s been estimated that there are 27 million slaves in the world today. Skinner adopts as his definition of slavery human beings forced to work, through force or fraud, for no pay beyond subsistence. Skinner admits that his book is not all inclusive. In five years he visited twelve countries and interviewed over 100 slaves, slave dealers, and survivors. However he did not visit or investigate countless other countries (including China) where slavery exists. Skinner begins his story in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where more than 10,000 street kids, mostly boys as young as six, sell unprotected sex for $1.75. In addition, there are many thousands of domestic slaves called restaveks, children as young as three from rural areas who are given to the traffickers for promises that their children will be well fed and educated (something they don’t have themselves but wish for their children). They are totally unaware that their children will be sold by the trafficker as domestic or sex slaves, starved, beaten, and definitely not educated. During this section of the book Skinner interviews slaves, slave owners, traffickers, local officials whose job it is to stop slavery, church and social organizations trying to help the slaves, and parents who had given up their children in the hopes of bettering their lot. Skinner then turns to the United States and how the Bush administration is responding, or not, to the question of slavery in the world. He introduces the reader to John Miller, the head of the United States Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Skinner covers in length the dedication and many, many, many hours of work that Miller and his staff expend in trying to make some small difference in the overwhelming tide of slavery. Throughout the book he returns to Miller again and again to show how Miller is responding to each of the challenges in the areas he has visited and how the Bush administration responds, or not, to each. Throughout the book Skinner visits the Sudan, Romania, Moldova, Turkey, the Netherlands, Dubai, India, and more. In each he exposes a little of the underbelly for us to view, but tells us about much, much more he cannot show us. Through his interviews he depicts slavery with a series of different faces, but always horrifying in whatever form it takes. Skinner cannot show us all the countries, all the faces of subjugation, but he does a good job of explaining the many ways in which slavery exists today, how it's allowed to do so, why it must be stopped, and some of the ways that it could be possible if only enough law, money, force, and power were put behind it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Caron

    Benjamin Skinner’s book “A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery,” published in 2009, was not a best seller, although it should have been. If there were any justice in this world, “A Crime So Monstrous” would still be at the top of the best seller lists and “50 Shades of Gray” would be in the remainder bin. I read it recently and it changed the way I look at everything. Did you know that in our enlightened age there are more slaves in the world than at any previous time in his Benjamin Skinner’s book “A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery,” published in 2009, was not a best seller, although it should have been. If there were any justice in this world, “A Crime So Monstrous” would still be at the top of the best seller lists and “50 Shades of Gray” would be in the remainder bin. I read it recently and it changed the way I look at everything. Did you know that in our enlightened age there are more slaves in the world than at any previous time in history, as many as 27 million by some estimates? According to UNICEF, nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade annually. Although slavery has been around since the beginning of recorded history, there has been a recent and deeply disturbing change–and that is the price of a human being. Adjusting for inflation, during the height of the transatlantic slave trade, an American or European buyer would have to pay $30,000 to $40,000 for slave. “Today you can go to Haiti and buy a 9-year-old girl to use as a sexual and domestic slave for $50. The devaluation of human life is incredibly pronounced,” Skinner said in an interview with NPR in 2008. “Denying the central role of poverty in modern-day slavery is like denying the central role of gravity in rainfall.” (Epilogue) Modern slavery, where it occurs, is the result of a perfect storm of political corruption, moral depravity and extreme poverty. Governmental and legal authorities look the other way while the powerful pray on the powerless, using men, women and children as forced laborers and prostitutes. Slavery thrives in places of extreme economic stratification like Haiti, where a huge underclass is at the mercy of a small power elite. As Skinner writes in the epilogue of his book, “Denying the central role of poverty in modern-day slavery is like denying the central role of gravity in rainfall.” What can we do? Slavery is technically outlawed in every country, but pressure needs to be brought to bear in places where slavery is allowed to flourish. There are many good organizations rescuing and rehabilitating slaves, and many more advocating for the end of slavery, but one of the most effective is International Justice Mission. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, prosecute perpetrators and ensure that public justice systems protect the poor (from the IJM website.) So read the book, and then support IJM.A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Non-fiction on modern slavery and the efforts of the US to fight it in 2000-2008. Four areas are profiled with the US parts between. All in all, interesting and sad, and readable. If you want to know more read below. Haiti (prior to the earthquake, which makes an already bad situation worse) is profiled with the restaveks, or slave children "stay-withs". Poor families give up their children to wealthier families thinking they will get an education and a better life. These children clean the house Non-fiction on modern slavery and the efforts of the US to fight it in 2000-2008. Four areas are profiled with the US parts between. All in all, interesting and sad, and readable. If you want to know more read below. Haiti (prior to the earthquake, which makes an already bad situation worse) is profiled with the restaveks, or slave children "stay-withs". Poor families give up their children to wealthier families thinking they will get an education and a better life. These children clean the house, watch the other children, and are considered second class and available for beatings and worse. Forced, unpaid labor for children between the ages of 12 and 15 is legal. And the purchase of these children goes on. The really interesting part is when a wealthy Haitian takes a restavek to the US and gets caught, the furor that erupts. Sudan and Mauritania have racialized chattel slavery, people are stolen from the offending area and forced to work and often converted to the other religion. For the boys, it was not uncommon to throw out or kill them when they become adults to avoid trouble. The women bear their masters children and don't want to leave them. Romania and Moldova are the starting points of sexual slavery. Parts of the countries are decimated of young women that have been tricked into leaving poverty by the offer of jobs and lies in other countries. Once there, they don't have a passport and are told if they escape their family will be hurt. They will be free once they pay off their debt. These women can be bought/sold on the secondary market. India, which stuck with the caste system, has 10-20 million slaves, mostly from the "untouchables", or the lowest caste. Most are in debt slavery, which with interest and slaves who are never schooled and so don't know their rights, are kept in generational slavery, the debt and interest handed down to the next generation. They get paid in food and housing, and if someone gets sick or needs a funeral, that gets added to the debt. Then there is the potential for physical and sexual exploitation. The book says "take the smallest estimate of slaves in South Asia - principally in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh - and it blows away estimates for the rest of the world combined." The US and the world have a problem defining slavery, and are focused on sex slavery. They want an easy target and story to sell to the world and the religious. Whole chapters of the book describe this battle.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This book introduced me to the topics of human trafficking and modern day slavery when I read it years ago, and I remember it as a very good introduction. To this day, I remember how many slaves exist, the situation in specific countries, the economic magnitude of slavery, which countries are transit and which are destination countries, and so on. I'm honestly surprised at how much of this book stayed with me over the years. Another great thing about this book was the writing. Not in the sense th This book introduced me to the topics of human trafficking and modern day slavery when I read it years ago, and I remember it as a very good introduction. To this day, I remember how many slaves exist, the situation in specific countries, the economic magnitude of slavery, which countries are transit and which are destination countries, and so on. I'm honestly surprised at how much of this book stayed with me over the years. Another great thing about this book was the writing. Not in the sense that the prose was particularly beautiful and elegant (it was too cheesy sometimes), but it felt real and engaging. From what I remember, Skinner did the individual tales he describes justice. The evil, the suffering, but also the hope in them really shone through. What's more, the relationship between these tales and the geopolitical and criminological analyses was symbiotic: They both made each other feel more relevant and assisted in understanding the respective other part. Like Kolyma: the Arctic Death Camps, A Crime So Monstrous looks at the bigger picture without losing sight of the individual in it. That is something I respect very much. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the subplot in which Skinner talks to a US ambassador about slavery, and what the US government can do against it. (I think it was an ambassador, at least.) These parts of the novel were not just boring, but also inexplicably naive. Aside from the fact that it's extremely suspicious how the Bush administration almost declared slavers their enemy before terrorism stole the spotlight: We've seen how the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism turned out, haven't we? Or the War on Poverty, or the current War on Racism, Sexism and Homophobia... basically, whenever you give the government a good cause, it will run it into the ground until there's only slogans and bombed cities left. Either Skinner wasn't aware of this fact, or he believed that this time, it would be different. Not sure which is worse. In dubio pro reo, I assume he wasn't intentionally malevolent. Still, I'm subtracting one star for it. The book would've been much better with these parts left out, or reduced to a few pages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frenje

    I'm not sure I'd recommend people to read this book, but I'd definitely recommend people to go read about modern slavery. Skinner does a good job introducing his reader to the different forms of slavery that still exist today, beyond the sex trafficking that most people are now aware of, and get you thinking about how slavery should be defined. Some of these anecdotal accounts were so alien to me, I couldn't help but feel that he must surely have been talking about another age, which I think is I'm not sure I'd recommend people to read this book, but I'd definitely recommend people to go read about modern slavery. Skinner does a good job introducing his reader to the different forms of slavery that still exist today, beyond the sex trafficking that most people are now aware of, and get you thinking about how slavery should be defined. Some of these anecdotal accounts were so alien to me, I couldn't help but feel that he must surely have been talking about another age, which I think is precisely why he opens the book the way he does. The book's well-paced -- accounts of slaves that Skinner has met are interspersed with shorter chapters on the politicking in D.C. over the issue -- and tries to address the question of how we should fight slavery in a modern context. I must say that I hit the bit where he mentions Singapore (Singapore government officials claim that domestic maids had fallen out of windows due to problems hanging out the wash, which was cast as being ridiculous, since it was of course a case of suicide due to enslavement), and started doubting the claims he makes about slavery where he did not personally speak to a slave. But such potential inaccuracies aside, I was nonetheless convinced that there is a problem that deserves our attention.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Josephine

    Skinner writes: “I assume you come from a place where there is an idea that humans have rights,” he added, regaining his composure and kicking at an ashy firepit. “Why does no one care about our slavery here?” (p.103) I think the simple answer to that is this: a lot of us aren’t aware that slavery still exists. I didn’t know up until a few months ago, when I started reading every book I could get my hands on about the subject. Skinner spent four years traveling around the world so he could report fi Skinner writes: “I assume you come from a place where there is an idea that humans have rights,” he added, regaining his composure and kicking at an ashy firepit. “Why does no one care about our slavery here?” (p.103) I think the simple answer to that is this: a lot of us aren’t aware that slavery still exists. I didn’t know up until a few months ago, when I started reading every book I could get my hands on about the subject. Skinner spent four years traveling around the world so he could report firsthand on the people who live in slavery, who have escaped from bondage, or who own and traffic slaves. The stories he tells are maddeningly familiar now that I’ve read Kevin Bales’ books as well. Corrupt Indian officials and a justice system that makes a mockery of the very notion of justice. But seeking justice isn’t simple — especially if there are mixed political motives from those who seek to combat the crime. Skinner writes about this at length (and I have to admit, these were the parts I had the hardest time ploughing through). All of the stories told in Skinner’s book just stay with you — in the same manner in which all of the other books on modern day slavery have.

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