SOCIAL SCIENCES

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods

Algonquin. Feb. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781616209179. $27.95. SOC SCI
COPY ISBN
In this debut, journalist Pang sheds light on conditions in forced-labor camps where goods are manufactured to be sold worldwide. Pang describes an unlikely encounter between Sun Yi, a prisoner in a Chinese labor camp who tucked a message in a box of Halloween decorations he was packing, and Julie Keith, the American consumer who found the note. As Keith worked stateside to expose exploitative labor practices, she learned more about the conditions that exist in China and worldwide that enable these labor practices to continue. Pang writes that many large American corporations and distributors, having received criticism, have claimed to have cut ties with factories that use forced labor; however, she writes, poor record-keeping, bad audit practices, throttled internet, and other conditions have enabled forced labor to continue. The book ends with a powerful call to action and advice for conscientious consumption. Sun Yi and Keith’s story was previously featured in the 2018 documentary Letter from Masanjia. Pang’s book contains a bibliography of sources for further reading on the topic.
VERDICT Spanning biography, business, and sociology, this well-reported and well-researched account of labor practices shows the impact of the demand for global goods. It will especially interest consumers and labor advocates.
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