Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods (Hardcover)
A Most-Anticipated Book of the Year: Newsweek * Refinery29
“Moving and powerful.” —Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author
In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foam headstones had been $5 at Kmart, too good a deal to pass up. But when she opened the box, something fell out that she wasn’t expecting: an SOS letter, handwritten in broken English by the prisoner who’d made and packaged the items.
In Made in China, investigative journalist Amelia Pang pulls back the curtain on the labor camps that create the home goods we buy at Kmart, the fast fashion we buy at H&M, and a shocking number of other products besides. The book follows the life of Sun Yi, the Chinese engineer who wrote the note after finding himself a political prisoner, locked in a gulag for joining a forbidden meditation practice and campaigning for the freedom to do so. There he worked alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and anyone else the Chinese government decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day.
In chasing this story, journalist Amelia Pang has conducted extensive interviews with Sun Yi and the people who knew him. She also identified and interviewed others who endured similar horrors, and who inflicted them. And she traveled to China to follow falsified supply chains herself, tracking trucks from labor camps to warehouses. The story she uncovers is a call to action, urging the American consumer to ask more questions and demand more answers from the companies they patronize.
About the Author
“A moving and powerful look at the brutal slave labor camps in China that mass produce our consumer products. Amelia Pang, who puts a human face on the Chinese laborers who work in bondage, makes clear our complicity in this inhuman system. She forces us, like the abolitionists who battled slavery in the 19th century, to place the sanctity of human life before the maximization of profit. It is hard not to finish this book and not be outraged, not only at the Chinese government but the American corporations that knowingly collaborate with and profit from this modern slave trade.”
—Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author
“The result of Pang's investigation is this powerful, illuminating book, which serves as a reminder that not only is nothing in life actually free, but it should also never be inexplicably cheap—someone, somewhere, is always paying the price.”
“Journalist Pang debuts with a vivid and powerful report on Chinese forced labor camps and their connections to the American marketplace. Cinematic . . . Engrossing and deeply reported, this impressive exposé will make readers think twice about their next purchase.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A powerful argument for heightened awareness of the high price of Chinese-made products.”
“Readers will be drawn into this thoroughly researched narrative and will be awakened by the author’s pleas for consumers to be more vigilant about the origin of their goods.”
“A cinematic approach to a vital topic, which should be as close to our hearts as cheap goods are to our wallets. Amelia Pang provides close-ups of the individual stories behind labor camps, and wide-angle views of their context and history.”
—Alec Ash, author of Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China
—Chen Guangcheng, author of The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for Justice and Freedom in China