A Harvest of Thorns

a-harvest-of-thornsAuthor: Corban Addison

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This should be a required read for business ethics courses!

Dhaka, Bangladesh is home to several garment factories that make products sold in stores all across the world. Some are better suited for working conditions than others.  One night, an electrical short in a generator causes a fire at the Millennium factory while workers are trying to complete a last minute order.  As the fire roars up the stairs, which is also the upper floors only exit, several workers try to remove the bars from the windows.  Finally, they get them free only to jump five levels above the ground, many to their death.  A photo of a young girl on the ground, bloody and battered, is shown throughout the news media.  On her face is a mask made of pants sold by one of the world’s largest retailers, Presto.

The next morning in Washington, D.C. Cameron Alexander, Presto’s general counsel, is called into the CEO’s office to watch the scene unfold. The factory was on the company’s red list, meaning they should not have any products being manufactured there.  Cameron’s main job is damage control as well as company reputation and he must figure out why this happened and how to spin it in a positive light.  As he digs into the investigation, he is shocked to find out the code of conduct is not only misused, but many times completely ignored.  He starts cracking down on the factory that the order was with and other items begin to come to light, not just in Bangladesh, but in Malaysia and Jordan as well.  Can the poison be stopped, or will it just keep spreading?

A year later, Joshua Griswold meets a confidential informant from Presto urging him to investigate the matter. Josh has won two Pulitzers, but was disgraced after one of the articles was used to uncover an unfortunate scandal.  Now with his marriage in shambles, he hopes he can rebuild his career with the Presto case and maybe even his family.

This book was an incredible read. From the start of the book, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down until I figured out what was going on.  Then once I did, I was along for the ride to see how everything played out.  As a consumer, this book can really open your eyes if you let it.  Most of us have heard about sweatshops and working conditions, but living in a first world country, you don’t really want to go there, either in person or your mind.  So reading this book can definitely give you an education.  It really makes you think about where the products you purchase come from.  It may have a sticker that says Made in Taiwan, but what do the people who make it go through?  How much do they get paid?  And then the whole set up with labor trafficking and supervisor rape.  It’s sickening to even imagine, but it does happen.

I think this would be a powerful book for business majors to read. Just to get them in a mindset about decisions they will be making and how they can affect other people’s lives.  If we are going to change the system, it will have to be from the top down and everyone will have to work to make a difference.  Thank you Corban Addison for bringing this issue to light and giving these workers a voice to be heard.

Aside from some of the content that will undoubtedly make some people uncomfortable, there is also some harsh language throughout. I would recommend this book to college age and above.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

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