Understanding human trafficking, a global issue that affects millions, is crucial in combating this modern form of slavery. This comprehensive guide explores recommended books, impactful documentaries, and historical perspectives to shed light on various aspects of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Recommended books on Modern-day slavery

Explore these insightful books that delve into the complex world of modern-day slavery:

Not For Sale Book

“Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It” by David Batstone

Batstone uncovers the modern slavery industry, recounting true stories and the ongoing global efforts to combat this issue.

Download Resources to Accompany Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It:
University Curriculum Guide
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Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy” by Kevin Bales: This book offers a compelling look at modern slavery worldwide, providing a new framework for understanding how and why it still persists today.

“Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves” by Kevin Bales: A follow-up to his earlier work, Bales outlines the steps needed to eradicate contemporary forms of slavery.

“The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today” by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter: This book exposes the disturbing phenomenon of human trafficking and slavery in the U.S., revealing how it is often hidden in plain sight.

“Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” by Siddharth Kara: Kara provides a detailed, business analysis approach to the problem of sex trafficking worldwide.

“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: While not exclusively about slavery, this book addresses issues of female oppression, including trafficking and forced prostitution.

“The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine” by Somaly Mam: This memoir recounts Mam’s life from being trafficked into the sex industry as a child to becoming a leading advocate against human trafficking.

“A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery” by E. Benjamin Skinner: Skinner explores the dark world of modern-day slavery, reporting from various global hotspots.

“Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself” by Rachel Lloyd: Lloyd shares her own experiences with commercial sexual exploitation and her work with survivors, providing insights into the challenges faced by victims of sex trafficking.

These books offer various perspectives, from personal narratives to analytical explorations, shedding light on the complexities and nuances of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Impactful Documentaries on Modern-day slavery

Here are five impactful documentaries that shed light on various aspects of modern-day slavery, offering insights into its global prevalence and the efforts to combat it:


  1. “The True Cost” (2015)

Directed by Andrew Morgan, this documentary focuses on the fashion industry, revealing the harsh realities of labor exploitation and poor working conditions in garment factories in developing countries. It explores how the demand for cheap clothing in the West contributes to modern forms of slavery.

  1. “I Am Jane Doe” (2017)

Directed by Mary Mazzio, this documentary follows the legal battles of several American mothers on behalf of their daughters, who were trafficked for sex on the classified advertising website Backpage.com. It highlights the fight against online child sex trafficking and the complexities of holding internet platforms accountable.

  1. “Not My Life” (2011)   

Directed by Robert Bilheimer and narrated by Glenn Close, ‘Not My Life’ is a globally filmed documentary that comprehensively depicts the cruel and dehumanizing practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale, spanning five continents and a dozen countries.

  1. “13th” (2016)   

Directed by Ava DuVernay, this documentary explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. While its primary focus is on the criminal justice system, it also touches upon the issue of prison labor, drawing parallels to modern-day slavery.

  1. “Ghost Fleet” (2018)

Directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, ‘Ghost Fleet’ follows a small group of activists who risk their lives to find justice and freedom for the enslaved fishermen trapped at sea on fishing fleets in Indonesia. It exposes the harsh realities of human trafficking in the global seafood industry.

Each of these documentaries brings to light different facets of modern-day slavery, from labor exploitation in various industries to sex trafficking and the role of systemic injustice. They serve as powerful tools for raising awareness and understanding the complexities of this critical human rights issue.

Recommended books on the history of slavery

Researching and understanding slavery before the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers insights into a much older and globally diverse practice of enslavement. Here are ten significant books that delve into various aspects of slavery across different cultures and eras prior to the Transatlantic Slave Trade:

Depiction of captives or slaves from a war, shown being led with ropes tied around their necks, in a relief dating back to the late 12th or 13th century. This artwork is located in the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom, Cambodia, as seen in an image featured on History Today’s National Gallery of Cambodia (https://www.historytoday.com/national-gallery/national-gallery-cambodia).

  1. Slavery in the Ancient Near East” by Isaac Mendelsohn**: This book provides a detailed study of slavery in early civilizations like Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, offering insights into the roles and lives of slaves in these societies.

  1. Slavery in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia” by William Linn Westermann**: A comprehensive overview of slavery in two of the earliest civilizations, focusing on the legal, economic, and social aspects of slavery.

  1. Greek and Roman Slavery” by Thomas Wiedemann**: This book offers a comparative study of slavery in ancient Greece and Rome, providing a nuanced understanding of the role and treatment of slaves in classical antiquity.

  1. Slavery in the Roman World” by Sandra R. Joshel**: Joshel examines the institution of slavery in Roman society, discussing various aspects such as the acquisition, use, and emancipation of slaves.

  1. Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity” by William L. Westermann**: An in-depth historical analysis of the slave systems in ancient Greece and Rome, exploring the economic, social, and legal dimensions of slavery in these cultures.

6.*”The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture” by David Brion Davis**: While not exclusively focused on pre-Transatlantic slavery, this book provides crucial context for understanding the cultural and intellectual roots of slavery in Western societies.

  1. Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua” by David Barry Gaspar**: This book, though focusing on a later period, offers valuable insights into the nature of master-slave relations that can be applied to earlier forms of slavery.

  1. Slavery in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia” by William D. Phillips Jr.**: This book explores the history of slavery in the Iberian Peninsula before the rise of the Atlantic slave trade, highlighting the diversity of slave experiences in medieval and early modern Spain and Portugal.

  1. The Cambridge World History of Slavery: Volume 1, The Ancient Mediterranean World” edited by Keith Bradley and Paul Cartledge**: This volume provides an extensive overview of slavery in the ancient Mediterranean, covering various civilizations and periods.

  1. Early Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1717″ by Karel Schoeman**: This book offers an exploration of slavery in the early Dutch Cape Colony before the establishment of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, providing a different geographical perspective.

These books collectively offer a broad and detailed examination of slavery in various ancient and medieval societies, illustrating the complexity and ubiquity of the institution long before the advent of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Documentaries on slavery from a historical perspective

While documentaries focusing on slavery before the Transatlantic Slave Trade are relatively rare, there are historical series and documentaries that provide context for understanding slavery’s broader historical scope:

  1. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire”  – While not exclusively about slavery, this BBC documentary series offers insights into Roman society, where slavery was a central element. It provides a comprehensive view of the Roman Empire, including the role and life of slaves.

  1. Lost Worlds: The Story of Archaeology” – This series includes episodes that delve into ancient civilizations where slavery was practiced, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It offers archaeological insights into these societies, including aspects of slavery.

  1. Engineering an Empire” – Produced by The History Channel, this series explores the engineering feats of various ancient empires. Episodes focusing on civilizations like Rome and Egypt indirectly provide context for understanding the role of slaves in building these monumental structures.

  1. Slavery and the Making of America” – This PBS documentary series, while primarily focused on American slavery, includes early episodes that provide the historical backdrop of slavery, touching upon its origins and how it evolved over time into the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  1. Spartacus” – This documentary explores the story of Spartacus, the famous slave who led a major uprising against the Roman Republic. It offers insight into the conditions of slavery in ancient Rome and the resistance against it.

These documentaries and series provide a broader understanding of slavery in historical contexts before the Transatlantic Slave Trade. They offer insights into how slavery was integrated into various ancient and medieval societies and help in understanding the evolution of this inhumane practice.

Combating Human Trafficking

Understanding human trafficking is the first step in combating it. Here are additional ways to contribute to the fight against modern-day slavery:

Support Anti-Trafficking Organizations like Not for Sale

If you don’t support us, please support the cause and consider donating to or volunteering with other organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking, such as:

Raise Awareness

Use your voice and social platforms to educate others about human trafficking. Share informative articles, documentaries, and stories to raise awareness.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you suspect human trafficking in your community, report it to local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (in the U.S)

Advocate for Policy Changes

Support legislation aimed at strengthening anti-trafficking laws and protecting victims’ rights. Contact your elected representatives to voice your concerns.


Let’s help end modern-day slavery together

Understanding human trafficking and modern-day slavery is essential in the fight against this grave violation of human rights. Whether through books, documentaries, historical perspectives, or taking proactive steps to combat trafficking, educating ourselves and others is a crucial step towards eradicating this global issue. By working together, we can create a world where no one is subjected to the horrors of human trafficking, and every individual enjoys the freedom and dignity they deserve.