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John Bowe, 2003 Award Winner

Bowe's investigation of the enslavement of a group of Mexican farmworkers in South Florida resulted in an article which appeared in the April 21, 2003, issue of New Yorker magazine.


"The story describes an industry with conditions so exploitative and protections so minimal that the occasional occurrence of slavery is less an accident than a foregone conclusion," Bowe wrote at the time. After winning the Margolis Award, he went on to write a book for Random House about the increasing frequency of other slavery cases throughout the U.S. called Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
While working on the book, Bowe won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. As jurors wrote at the time, "John Bowe's work ... is characterized by a reasoned and painstaking approach to the gathering of his material. His description has no taint of moral superiority. His

writing is understated and stylish; he does not labor to make points, he allows the inexorable drift of his narrative to inform and in all places avoids sensationalism. His account gathers force by means of an accumulation of detail rendered with a steady objectivity. Bowe has drawn the reader's awareness to intolerable practices, abuses of the deepest and most indisputable rights of humanity — the right to be free of oppression and economic tyranny. The slow movement forward of human rights will almost surely be advanced by his book."

Bowe received an MFA from Columbia University's graduate film program in 1996 and co-wrote (with Julian Schnabel) the screenplay for the film "Basquiat." He is co-editor of the book, GIG: Americans Talk About Their Jobs (Crown, 2010); editor of US: Americans Talk About Love (Faber USA); and author of I Have Something To Say: Mastering the Art of Public Speaking in an Age of Disconnection (Random House, 2020). His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The American Prospect, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and other publications.

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