It’s clear that Cacho, with such passion for her subject, understands far more than her audience will. Unfortunately, she...

SLAVERY INC.

THE UNTOLD STORY OF INTERNATIONAL SEX TRAFFICKING

Award-winning El Universal journalist Cacho has a history of crusading for human rights through her work. Here, she chronicles her global travels to document the world of human trafficking.

Loosely organized into geographic regions first and then into the ways and means of the trafficking industry, the book never lacks for information. Cacho met untold numbers of sex slaves, pimps, law enforcement agents and rescue workers, and it’s obvious she learned a great deal from all of them. This wealth of material, however, causes some problems for the author. Instead of giving detailed accounts, Cacho skims the surfaces of most stories in what seems like an attempt to include as much information as possible. This has the effect of making the book simultaneously dense and shallow, urgent and haphazard. Combined with a tendency to move on from a topic without fully supporting it, there is an underlying sense that the author had so much to say, she was unable to condense and synthesize it into something manageable. Further, many of her references are more than 10 years old, leading to questions of relevance. Directly addressing the reason for this would have been useful in allaying reader concerns about her research. Cacho also examines topics intimately related to trafficking, like money laundering, but these sections suffer the same lack of depth and clarity. What make the book palatable despite these deficiencies are the obvious dedication the author carries for her subject and her gift with words. Cacho is at her best when she loses herself in her interactions with her subjects; in those moments, the writing is so elegant that it purges memories of clunky exposition.

It’s clear that Cacho, with such passion for her subject, understands far more than her audience will. Unfortunately, she fails to make the connections for those who don’t have her background knowledge.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61902-296-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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