Sadly, it is not true that human slavery was abolished back in the 1800s, and in fact there are still millions of slaves in the world. There are slaves working in third world brothels, mines, farms, and sweatshops. Even some domestic servants in Western nations are technically enslaved. Here Kevin Bales explains how this is a new and modernized type of slavery. The old "classic" slavery, in which masters outwardly and legally owned other people, has disappeared around the world, except for in the oddly backward nation of Mauritania. The new slavery is not based on ethnic or religious subjugation and punishment, but is the outcome of globalized economics, as certain industries inevitably gravitate toward near-zero cost labor.
Most modern slaves are victims of "debt bondage," in which businessmen or middlemen make poor and desperate people work off their debts, but through fraudulent accounting and trickery make it impossible for the debts to be paid off, therefore gaining forced and unpaid labor. This phenomenon is tragically common in many nations, and tens of millions of people are subjected to hopeless lives of economic subjugation. Bales explores this modern slavery in several nations that are trying to convince the world that it doesn't happen within their borders, or try to justify this bondage with dissembling arguments that are disgustingly similar to those used by the old Southern plantation owners in America.
Bales does a pretty good job of describing how real, quantifiable economics and globalization processes bring this human tragedy about. However, this aspect of his analysis could be strengthened, to make a more effective argument with policy makers. I suggest that Bales team up with a reputable political scientist or economist to make this structural argument stronger. Some international readers may also take issue with Bales' introductory explanations of the cultures on which he is reporting. Statements about how Thailand's culture totally condones that nation's horrific sex industry, or how Pakistan's social structure inevitably results in internecine violence, are most likely generalizations that could be fleshed out with more sensitive research. But overall those are minor flaws. Bales gives you a very disconcerting feeling about the state of modern humanity, and about how slavery has played a part in the manufacture of many of your consumer items and the bottom line of companies in which you may have invested. [~doomsdayer520~]