Two stories, more than a century apart…
In the 1800s American South, Harriet Jacobs is enslaved and tormented by a cruel master. He relentlessly attempts to force her into a sexual union, and, when rebuffed, he separates her from her children and spends a lifetime trying to coerce her and then recapture her when she escapes to freedom. Jacobs outwits her tormentor and eventually reunites with her children, works in the cause of abolition and reform, and helps newly freed slaves with education and aftercare.
In 2012, Timothy Ballard encounters a grieving father in Haiti whose three-year-old son has been kidnapped and sold into slavery, along with thousands of children who were orphaned after an earthquake devastated the country. Inspired by Harriet Jacobs, Tim pledges to track down the missing child and leaves his job at the Department of Homeland Security to establish Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). This foundation infiltrates black markets in human trafficking, liberates victims, and provides a comprehensive aftercare process involving justice and rehabilitation for survivors.
Slave Stealers alternates these two riveting stories, weaving them together to expose the persistent evil of trafficking and sexual exploitation that has existed for centuries—and inspiring us to find a way to end it. Filled with heartbreaks and triumphs, miracles and disappointments, hair-raising escapes and daring rescues, this gripping book provides insight into this terrible evil and the good that can be done when caring people step up and stand in the light.
Slave Stealers Review
Having recently read a book about unsung female Civil War heroes, I think I was prepped for more moving stories about somewhat related topics. Slave Stealers: True Accounts of Slave Rescues Then and Now by Timothy Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad and author of The Lincoln Hypothesis, is a heart-wrenching story of one of the most sordid and horrific elements of our world: the trafficking, buying and selling of human beings. Just writing the words makes me feel ill, but this is not a treatise on my opinions, just a review of the book.
While this book relates stories and experiences relating to slavery both now and in centuries past, it is important to note that the author believes that these are by no means the same thing. Historically, slavery in pre-Civil-War America was legal and open, as well as based in racism, hatred and oppression. 21st-century slavery is illegal and takes place in the shadows. It’s an economic practice, buying and selling women and children for profit. Both are evil and equally reprehensible, but in significantly different ways.
The stories are written in narrative, rather than documentary form. The current stories are certainly more compelling, only because they are written in the first person and contemporary. It doesn’t make the 19th-century accounts any less moving. I almost have no words to describe my feelings on reading this. It is hard to imagine that there can be human beings still so evil; but sadly, there are.
Mr. Ballard paints a very vivid picture of his work and the plight of these humans (while he writes about rescuing children, the 21st-century victims of slavery are most definitely NOT all children. If you are looking for a wake-up call of a story, this is a book for you. Certainly geared toward teens and adults, this could be an excellent conversation starter in your family or in the classroom. I am adding it to my “recommended reading” list.
Slave Stealers: True Accounts of Slave Rescues Then and Now by Timothy Ballard is available in Hardcover, Kindle and audio CD at Amazon.com