Kevin Bales had been an academic sociologist for nearly 20 years when he learned that slavery still existed. After examining modern-day slavery, he published Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (1999), an eye-opening, often undercover, investigation into slave-based businesses in five countries, now published in 10 languages. Seeking to reawaken awareness of slavery and reinvigorate a commitment to ending it globally, in 2000 Bales cofounded Free the Slaves, a nonprofit organization that frees slaves, helps former slaves stay free, advocates to governments and corporations for policy change, and carries out research. In his 2007 book, Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, Bales outlined a 25-year plan to stop slavery and human trafficking, identifying what governments, the UN, businesses, communities, and individuals can do to end bondage. Ending Slavery won the $100,000 2011 Grawemeyer Prize for ideas that promote world order.
Bales is also the author of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (with Ron Soodalter), Understanding Global Slavery, and the coauthor of four other books. Bales is emeritus professor at Roehampton University in London and visiting professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull. He holds an MSc in economic history and a PhD in social sciences from the London School of Economics. In 2008, the Association of British Universities named his work one of 100 World-Changing Discoveries. Bales is currently writing a book on the relationship of slavery and environmental destruction and, with Jody Sarich, a book exploring forced marriage worldwide.