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Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World
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Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  240 ratings  ·  42 reviews
For readers of such crusading works of nonfiction as Katherine Boo’s Beyond the Beautiful Forevers and Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains comes a powerful and captivating examination of two entwined global crises: environmental destruction and human trafficking—and an inspiring, bold plan for how we can solve them.
A leading expert on modern-day slavery, Kevin Bale
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Spiegel & Grau
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4.01  · 
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 ·  240 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book's message regarding the connections between impoverishment, desperation, exploitation and environmental degradation is important but the ideas proposed to save the world are no secret, and frankly they're kind of a joke. Early on, when talking about his investigation of an illegal mining operation, he says "I can't live without my phone and people here are dying because of it." So I figured this would probably lead to one of two things, either a criticism of a culture where people lite ...more
Jennifer Stringer
3.5-4 stars. Oh, man. This might be a case of ignorance is bliss. But as the author points out, once you know, you can no longer plea ignorance, just indifference. Basically, if we use a touch screen, buy gold and other gems, eat shrimp from someplace other than the US, or purchase lumber that isn't certifiably sourced, we are participating in global slavery. And that just scratches the surface. Not only that, but the author shows how slavery goes hand-in-hand with ecocide. These organizations d ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A compulsive read for those with an interest in social justice and environmentalism. This book will make it hard for some to continue supporting various industries - or at least shall drive them to ask, "where did this come from and what am I supporting with my purchase". The personal stories are matter-of-fact allowing the reader (or at least this one) to understand once again how we in the States have no idea the conditions so many endure while barely achieving the daily requirements of food a ...more
Jennifer Nichols
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The authors makes disturbing links between global climate change, socio-economic unrest, and modern slavery. Must read for anyone planning to work with refugees, those in poverty, international studies, economics, international law, and political science.
Anup Umranikar
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Blood and Earth" is an interesting book on slavery. What got me even more interested was the tagline of this book: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World.

Kevin Bales is an expert on modern-day slavery and has been researching on the same since the 1990s. He has covered various aspects of modern-day slavery and its effect on the environment.

The general theme of this book is that slaves produce many of the things that we buy, and in the process they are forced to destroy our
Cassie Steiner
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to read this book and was unfortunately disappointed.

The research and stories told were incredibly powerful, and the problem is clearly demonstrated. However, the book lacks a clear thesis and doesn’t really present solutions. The structure of the book doesn’t lend itself to you forming your own solutions either; several points are repeated to the point of utter redundancy. Some thoughts and ideas are randomly inserted in chapters, making it seem like Bales just felt the need t
Brandon Stiver
This book absolutely blew me away. I was jolted by this book. I think the combination of (mostly) reading it during my time in Rwanda together with the content really impacted me. It's one thing to read about slavery and destruction of eco-systems when they're far away, it's another thing when you realize that this is happening just on the other side of Lake Kivu. Or beyond that, some of the perpetrators in Eastern Congo are same perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. Bales does a ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
It was hard to read this book because the subject matter was so disturbing. As the final chapter asserts, you can't un-know what you know. Each of us is responsible for making informed choices as consumers and acting as global citizens and stewards.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Extremely thought provoking and disturbing, Kevin Bales' Blood and Earth will keep you up at night and hopefully guide your purchases, investments and votes.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Nice blend of information and story telling--and concrete action plans.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Blood and Earth provokes thought with the title “ modern slavery, ecocide, and the secret to saving the world”. It’s a great attention grabber and makes you think that kevin bales might have the knowledge to combat these issues. Spoiler! It’s not a huge secret. If you picked up this book, it’s because you want to learn more. The goal is not to plead ignorance, but to just care. That’s he big ol secret ya’ll. Through the chapters in the book kevin writes to you in story form, stories of what real ...more
Victoria Shircliffe
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
An important book with lots of good points, but saying the solution to environmental destruction is to "end slavery" is vague and not very helpful. Ending slavery is an incredibly complex and difficult issue. As Bales says himself, "slaveholders are criminals, operating firmly outside of any law or regulation." They're not suddenly going to just stop what they're doing because it's hurting the environment. Dismantling slavery is its own separate issue that's not going to magically happen just to ...more
Siobhan Harrop-McDiarmid
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written and passionate advocate of consumer education. We can make a difference by sourcing our electronics from manufacturers who engage in supply chain tracing and avoid purchasing cassiterite, columbite-tantalite and wolframite from conflict zones. Other takeaways are - don't eat shrimp! Or buy tombstones from India.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good introduction/overview to the reality that is modern slavery. The author strives to walk the line between too preachy and very informed, and does a decent job in making sure we are aware of our own complicity in modern slavery. Not an easy read, but likely a necessary one.
Kara Corthron
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Important read. Warning: it's a tough one, but should be required reading in schools.
Diane Burton
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everybody should read this book. It will break your heart but it's necessary reading.
Jeff E
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly compelling story that will change your world view. A must read for all Westerners. Slavery still exists and all because of greed. Read it and share it.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Katie by: Rebekah Laughbaum
Bales weaves facts, interviews, and stories together to form a compelling work connecting western consumerism, modern slavery, and environmental destruction. The book presented nauseating examples of lawlessness contrasted with the beautiful productivity of living in harmony with nature and stories of redemption. It shed a lot of light on how modern slavery operates and significantly shifted the way I think about my purchases.
Norman Matos
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book provides important insight into the immoral portions of supply chains unseen for goods still well in demand. Whether it be coltan, gold, shrimp, or timber, the source of what we consume has to be investigated to prevent illegal activity that tramples on human rights.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Kevin Bales, an expert on modern slavery, hypothesizes that human slavery today is inextricably linked to the destruction of our environment, stating that slavery (30 million people) is the third largest producer of greenhouse gases. Bales provides solid data on the use of slaves to obtain materials so far at the beginning of the supply chain for our modern conveniences and luxuries such as cell phones, computers, shrimp, chocolate, kitchen tiles, etc. He opens the eyes of the reader and provoke ...more
This book took me many months - other books interrupting it, and it's kind of intense. But it is SO important. This book looks at the connection between slavery and environmental destruction. It is horrifying to see the conditions of the slaves and the environments, how the governments and other groups are a part of it, and the incredibly difficult problem in creating change. Great book.
Bob Bixby
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I rate it four because I think it contains a powerful message that must be contemplated. I will not be the same consumer that I was before reading this. The undeniable connection between slavery and ecocide is proven by Bales, but he also forces us to face the uncomfortable fact that our uncritical consuming of goods from tombstones to shrimp to cellphones to gold is contributing the utterly abysmal suffering of men and women caught in real-life slavery.

I expected an activist rant, an uncomforta
Mark Valentine
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Because anthropogenic climate disruption is a multi-layered predicament, I believe the solutions need to be just as diverse; therefore, reading Bales' study of contemporary instances of slavery around the world is essential reading for tackling the ecocide we now live amid. In the Congo, slaves are used to deforest the land; in Bangladesh, children slave at shrimp harvesting, in Ghana, slaves work the mines; and in Brazil, slaves clear land for agriculture...all contributing to ecocide.

Bales pro
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The supply chain that reaches from the Bisie mine [in the DRC] to the phone in your pocket has around eleven steps, the last two being the retailer where we buy our goods and ourselves, the ultimate consumers of the cellphones, laptops, and everything else. Since most businesses don't want slavery in their products, the lies told to hide slavery cluster most thickly at the beginning of the supply chain. The sense of guilt or responsibility for the origin of the base materials fades at every ste ...more
victor harris
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Be forewarned, this is a gruesome, gut-wrenching account of how slavery and environmental destruction combine to pose a serious ecological threat to the planet. From mines in the war-torn Congo to shrimp production near Bangladesh and into the Amazon where special interests in Brazil act with impunity and eliminate opposition in a lethal manner, the author supplies harrowing tales and anecdotes of the modern slavery rings that prey on innocent and unsuspecting victims.
Governments, if they fun
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
For a book about slavery... It actually doesn't describe too many kinds of slavery going on today. Someone else wrote that this could have been an article instead of a book and it did have a fair amount of repetition. You will learn interesting facts about slavery in mineral ore, charcoal, shrimp farming, lumber, and gold and it is very enlightening. At its best the book can be gripping, tear jerking, and shocking- from the utter devastation and brutal working conditions of gold slavery to the g ...more
Jen Davis Lance
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Kevin Bales, leading anti-slavery advocate, visited several hot spots around the globe so that he could give a well-informed, primary source account of exactly how the malfeasance of modern slavery leads to the tragedy of ecocide. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat another shrimp after reading the heart-rending account of what women in Indonesia go through to provide 1st world nations with all the shrimp they can eat. Sickening! The accounts of the devastation in Africa in order to mine cass ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was informative, illuminating, awe-inspiring. It really made want to be a human rights lawyer. Bales uses clear and readable language to advance a powerful argument: slavery and ecocide have a terrible synergy, but we have the power to stop it. I learned a lot from the book; prior to reading it, I didn’t know slavery still existed, much less that there are currently 35 million slaves in the world today. I didn’t know the selections I make at the supermarket to the phone that I use have ...more
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This is definitely not a feel good book. But every once in a while I think one needs to read a nonfiction book that shakes you up and makes you take notice about what's really going on in the rest of the world. There are definitely bigger problems than what we fret about here on a daily basis. One needs to be reminded about poverty and slavery and human trafficking to realize that our priorities need to be reexamined now and again. This book will do that for you in a big way. I heard a part of t ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an eye-opening read for sure. It took me a long time to get through, and at times faltered as a text, but overall, it did a good job of exploring modern day slavery and it's connection with ecocide. It is a slightly frustrating read, because at times the situation seems hopeless. The widespread devastation of natural resources described time and again is so heart-wrenching, and it left me feeling relatively hopeless. I know there are small things I can do, but overall, it seems like the ...more
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Why I had to write Blood and Earth ...

For years I traveled the world meeting people in slavery trying to understand the depth and truth of their lives. What I saw, heard, and learned changed me, and led me deeper into the work of ending slavery, but I was missing something important. Where there are slaves, the environment is under assault, forests are being destroyed, endangered species are dying
“The frictionless genius of our creative class, which we see every day in our lives and in advertising, leads us to support environmental destruction and human enslavement that we never see.” 3 likes
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