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A Harvest of Thorns, by Corban Addison
Presto Omnishops Corporation in Virginia is one of America’s largest retailers. In Dhaka, Bangladesh a garment factory that burns to the ground. A teenage girl found on the ground after a fall from the multi story building. Over her mouth is a mask of fabric with the label Presto Omnishops Corporation. Cameron Alexander, the company's general counsel, watches the media coverage on the news in horror from his office in the United States. Due to controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he wants to try to contain the potential damaging story as much as possible.
A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. He jumps at the chance to salvage his reputation and builds a historic case against Presto.
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 9.30 X 6.10 (inches)|
A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret.
A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption.
A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photographa teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of Americas largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.
Eight thousand miles away at Prestos headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the companys long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades-old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach further than he could ever imagineand threaten everything he has left in the world.
A year later in Washington DC, Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fi re. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Prestos culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to winboth to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution in Prestos boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.
"This exposé of the underbelly of the international fashion industry is disturbing, moving, and thoroughly engrossing." PHILLIP MARGOLIN, New York Times bestselling author of Violent Crimes
Corban Addison is the international bestselling author of A Walk Across the Sun, The Garden of Burning Sand, and The Tears of Dark Water,which won the 2016 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award. His novels have been published in over 25 countries. An attorney, activist, and world traveler, he is a supporter of humanitarian and social justice causes around the world. He lives with his wife and children in Virginia. Learn more at his website corbanaddison.com Facebook: CorbanAddison Twitter: @CorbanAddison
'Through his broad, intelligent research and insightful writing, Addison prods the conscience, trumpeting justice while acknowledging that the cost of a globalized society is incalculably higher than the price of a T-shirt.'
Addison (The Tears of Dark Water) crafts a stunning legal thriller that will immerse readers in its South Asian setting and fascinating characters. Its focus on workers rights and social justice is also bound to have crossover appeal . . .
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Thought provoking fiction regarding the seedy underbelly of the fashion industryMay 20, 2017ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3In the fall of November 2013, a garment factory in Dhaka, Banglaesh goes up in flames. The fire is so intense the entire building burns to the ground, killing hundreds of employees. One witness captures a photo of one of the victims, a young woman lying dead on the ground. Oddly, a piece of fabric bearing the logo of the company -- a major United States clothing retailer -- lays across her mouth. Once word of the fire hits worldwide media outlets, the news also finds its way back to the company's headquarters in Virginia. And boy is it news, because the company's CEO says he was under the impression that that particular factory had been officially closed for some time! Still, it's the company name on everyone's lips, thanks to the continuing media coverage, so a legal team is assembled to try to quickly, quietly, and hopefully successfully pull off a good bit of damage control. Head legal counsel, Cameron Alexander, soothes the concerns of CEO Vance Lawson, assuring him that people generally have short memories, so all they have to do is hire BP Oil's PR firm (you might remember that big ol spill of theirs?) and just wait for all this to blow over.
Instead of the story quietly going away, news outlets continuing to air footage of the fire and all the sordid details of the company behind it only stirs up an even stronger hornet's nest of anger amongst those itching for a good reason to protest & picket. Soon, labor law wars ignite, inciting age-old arguments over work conditions & labor laws in general.
The story then fast forwards years later, where the reader is introduced to Josh Griswold, a disgraced journalist who is given the opportunity to repair his professional reputation when he's offered up the chance to re-investigate the story around the fire and take down the corporate bigwigs behind it once and for all.
So what new details does Griswold uncover after meeting up with labor activists in Bangladesh? A scandal of epic proportions! He's quickly schooled on the topic of "red listed" factories, locations officially closed down (usually over safety issues), which means they're obviously no longer backed by the corporations they previously produced inventory for... except .... well, it seems some locations are secretly kept open to cover the overflow of order requests when the "official" factory locations can't keep up with demand. The managers of the official factories quietly and very much under the table illegally subcontract the "closed" locations to help with those massive orders. The corporation itself (at least the big guys over at headquarters) are kept out of the loop. All they know is that their orders are getting filled. At least until PR disasters such as this hit.
Griswold finds himself quite the human rights story to report. The company at fault were charged no fines and the survivors of the fire / surviving family members of the deceased victims were only provided a pittance of compensation money. Fire survivors couldn't even cover medical expenses with what they were given. Griswold digs even deeper and finds cases of outright exploitation, slave labor, even female employees being raped by site managers!
This novel will definitely raise the hackles of the socially minded reader. CEO Vance Lawson is a letdown. He outwardly presents himself as an innocent at first, almost likeable in the way he seems to honestly want to know how this tragedy happened and how future incidents can be prevented. He even relates to how the photographed victim appears to be the same age as his own daughter! But it's just sickening how stereotypically self-serving this guy turns out to be. The company's stance is to say that actions leading to the cause of the fire were "in violation of the code of conduct" but virtually no other action is taken beyond that.
For history buffs out there, the prologue of this novel may bring to mind the similar (true life) story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. There are some commonalities as far as a sketchy, ultimately deadly work environment and CEOs that seriously dropped the ball when it came to protecting their hardworking employees. In fact, in both that real fire and this novel, we see examples of the senseless deaths of hundreds of people because financial greed was chosen over safety and respect for employees. A Harvest of Thorns itself is inspired by a factory fire that did indeed occur in Bangladesh in 2012. This novel is not an exact retelling of that tragedy, but the details of that day and the companies behind that real fire -- Sears, Walmart, Target, Gap... just to name a few -- certainly inspired the characters and settings of this novel, as author Corban Addison explains in his afterword. In 2015, Addison traveled to Bangladesh and interviewed survivors of that 2012 fire, which helped him craft the character and plot development you find in this novel. If you scan the acknowledgements, you might also spot that John Grisham served as a beta reader for A Harvest of Thorns. Though Addison himself is an attorney, it's likely that he also bounced ideas regarding the legal portions of the novel around with Grisham, a former attorney.
Ugh. It's a tough read but a perfect one for getting meaty book club discussions going... just prepare yourself for the heat it might bring! While this reader didn't find the writing consistently riveting, it's a solidly important topic that needs to be looked at more often. This novel leaves one with an uncomfortable reminder of just how hard it is, as a consumer, to stay on the right & ethical side of things, no matter how much we may want to... even the seemingly trusty "Made In USA" tag can have its shady roots!
Those interested in getting the conversation going will find helpful discussion questions provided within the hardcover edition (and possibly the paperback -- I say hardcover simply because that's the copy I was given). Additionally, you may want to check out the website truecostmovie.com
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Yvette K.3 Stars Out Of 5Gritty depiction of Fast FashionApril 20, 2017Yvette K.Quality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 3A Harvest of Thorns weaves together storylines of a corporate attorney and a disgraced journalist, both with turbulent pasts and uncertain futures, until a lethal factory fire in Bangladesh brings issues of unsafe conditions, forced and slave labor, and endemic corruption to light. The subject is compelling and the story serves it well, bringing the corporate and factory environments to life, and exposing the reader to the heart-rending poverty and truth behind much of the retail fashion industry.
The storylines are slow to join and a bit slow to engage the reader, but each is interesting, whether it is Cameron Alexander's travels and corporate maneuverings or Joshua Griswold's journalistic investigation turned lawsuit. The ending is satisfying and the writing is good, which leaves me a bit puzzled as to my ambivalent reaction to this novel as a whole.
I liked how this book was broken up into eight parts, with each part indicating whether it would focus on Cameron and/or Joshua. I also liked that when there is a change in setting, the place, date, and time are given at the start of the chapter. However, some of the mechanics bothered me, particularly having the chapters start over at 1 whenever a new part began.
I appreciated the relatively even handed way the main characters and their associates were portrayed. None were perfect, and none were absolutely evil. What I did not care for was the pervasive lack of personal morals that seemed to characterize this book, and I was surprised by some of the racier content.
This is a well written but slow-starting novel that captures your interest once the storylines are established. Language and content are edgier than typical from a Christian publishing house, but it is worth a read if you are interested in a fictional treatment of the topic.
This post refers to a copy received from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan's Fiction Guild, in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Deana5 Stars Out Of 5Greed at its BestApril 16, 2017DeanaQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5With a powerful beginning I knew this book was going to be an emotionally charged story. It is gritty and messy with details that can shock people at times. We know things go on in factories all over the world that are unfair , yet we turn the other way and refuse to address it. That is until the world is stunned by a picture that captures the utter inhumane treatment of workers in a factory far from the United Stated. I loved this book because the author is not afraid to tackle a subject that is deplorable and sickening to see. Is it worth buying clothes from a company at the cost of a human life?
With every big company comes power and sometimes greed. Some of the bigwigs ignore the rules in order to make more money. When Cameron was first introduced I wasn't sure if I liked him or not. Would he do the right thing and make workers feel safe? The horrors that take place in one of the company's factories made me cry. To think that a young woman must do the unthinkable to keep her job is so disheartening. From the back streets there is human trafficking, rape and so much underhanded money deals that makes the story jump off the pages. Perhaps some of the language was a bit unsettling but I think for this type of story it was a realistic view of what really goes on.
I appreciate that the author doesn't sugarcoat anything, but goes full force into the world of big corporation vs the deplorable treatment of humans. Josh is a journalist who has a story that can take down many people , but can he do it without putting himself in danger? In the courtroom the story will put that fear on some and others will scream for justice. Who will win? Will the real traitor stand up and take punishment? Can the judicial system give the plaintiffs cause to celebrate? The writing is aggressive and takes us all over the world to expose the men and women who are greedy enough to sacrifice lives to get ahead. What will be the final verdict? Grab a copy and find out who will be the victor in this action packed thriller.
I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my honest opinion.
NadineTimes102 Stars Out Of 5DisappointedApril 3, 2017NadineTimes10Quality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0A large American corporation. A garment factory fire overseas. Labor rights. Globalization. I wanted to read this novel and get something meaningful and challenging out of it.
Instead, I rather felt like I'd been duped. Partly my fault, since I've run into this with a HarperCollins Christian Publishing book in the past, and I'd told myself I'd be more cautious about selecting books from them. (I believe it was a Zondervan book before, while this one is a Thomas Nelson.)
Call me old-fashioned, but when I reach for novels from a Christian publisher, I'm not looking for books that contain profanity. I'm just not. Sure, when I knowingly choose to read a secular book, I'll deal with a certain amount of foul language or other content I prefer to avoid, if I find the story and message especially compelling and relevant--that's my choice. But I personally don't see the point of continuing to call yourself a Christian publisher if not all of the novels you're publishing now are Christian Fiction.
Yes, yes, I know--different folks' definitions and standards of Christian Fiction are different. The publishers have their business reasons and all. That's fine. But in keeping with my standards as a longtime ChristFic reader, I'll now be choosing Thomas Nelson and Zondervan books based on what I know or have researched about the authors, not based on the publishers' names anymore--since, unfortunately, I can no longer trust what I'm getting from said publishers.
This is rare for me when I originally planned to review a book, but I got less than a quarter of the way through this one before I decided not to continue.
BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, and I've given my honest opinion.
Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5An Epic Novel!April 1, 2017Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5"Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." - the prophet Amos
"A Harvest of Thorns" is a startling fictional expose of the garment industry from a very primal level, forcing the eye of the consumer to focus on those who will never wear the fashionable clothing they toil to manufacture; in fact, some scarcely have the privilege to exist. Forced to work in deplorable conditions, with little security against the advances of their employers, or barely enough freedoms to be considered anything but slaves, the story begins with an inferno that completely destroys a Bangladesh factory and like a mighty river, the repercussions carve their way back to a multi-billion dollar enterprise in the United States.
Bonded by anonymity are two key players; a brilliant corporate lawyer who is determined to not only follow the law, but to exact moral justice, and an award laden news journalist who has traveled the world in order to expose earth shattering stories. The end result is not only an extraordinary story, but one that will prompt every reader to read the labels in their clothing and wonder, "was it worth a harvest of thorns"?
Clearly written with a general market reader audience in mind, the occasional expletives and references to brutal assaults are well within the range of characterization and setting, though no less unsettling. Epic in length and weighted with considerable legal platitudes; what could be distracting in most cases, simply adds to the intrinsic value of this remarkable novel.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.