This blog belongs to the John Bowe who is neither a B+ level English actor nor an Australian race car driver. This is the John Bowe who just wrote a book called Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
I was born in 1964, in rural Minnesota, and grew up playing the drums for variously hapless, improbable rock bands. Later, I sensed a need to grace the world with my singing talents and (characteristically ahead of the curve) became one of the Midwest’s first white rappers. Simultaneously, I attended the University of Minnesota and received an undergraduate degree with honors in English in 1987.
My studies were interrupted for two years while I dropped out, hitchhiked across the Sahara desert, herded cows on an Argentine cattle ranch, bailed water on a trader’s barge in the Amazon and crewed on a cargo ship sailing from Brazil to Boston. For several years after graduating from college, I continued to spend a few weeks each winter taking time off from my job as a house painter to hitchhike and tour the southern U.S. by cargo train, armed with a bag of books.
I received a Masters degree in film at Columbia University in 1996. That year, I co-wrote the script for the film Basquiat, directed by Julian Schnabel and was also a finalist in the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. In 1997 and ’98, I co-founded an award-winning literary and humor website called Word.com. I spent a few years writing screenplays I could never finish while doing freelance journalism as a day job. The journalism and the website led to co-editing the book GIG: Americans Talk About Their Jobs in 2000, which was widely and highly acclaimed and elevated the journalism sideline to a career.
This led to writing about slavery for The New Yorker magazine, which evolved into my most recent book, Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
The book just came out this September, and the reception thus far is proving to be gratifying and tremendous. I will be making appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bloomberg Financial News, NPR’s Marketplace, This American Life, and The World. I have also lined up speaking engagements in book stores, universities, Seattle’s Town Hall, and the Carnegie Center, a UN-based forum for human rights discussions. For information about events or to read articles or interview transcripts, please visit my personal website.