Fair and balanced assessment of the current state of affairs in the Amazon.
Dec 3, 2009
More than a quarter century ago authors Mark London and Brian Kelly spent a considerable amount of time in the jungles of Brazil doing research for their 1983 book "Amazon". They wanted to meet the inhabitants of this strange and mysterious territory and discover for themselves just what was happening there. Now some 25 years later London and Kelly have returned to the Amazon to report on how this incredibly vast region and its people have fared during those intervening years. For all intents and purposes "The Last Forest: The Amazon In The Age of Globalization" is a report card on the effectiveness of governmental policies at various levels and how wisely the land is being used by both the business community and the peoples who would call the Amazon home. "The Last Forest" is definitely not another doom and gloom book written by someone with an environmental ax to grind. Rather, this is a scholarly work that seeks to figure out which policies and approaches have been successful as well as those that may not have been. Mark London and Brian Kelly do yeoman work as reporters searching for the real story of the Amazon in 2007. I could detect no real political agendas here.
To most of the developed world the Amazon represents the last vast wilderness area on the planet. Environmentalists in both the United States and Europe are demanding that Brazil protect the rain forests from significant development. But is this realistic? Those in both the public and private sectors in Brazil are quick to point out that neither the Europeans nor the Americans were willing to adhere to such stringent land use policies as their nations developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For the most part, London and Kelly found that the Brazilian government is really quite sensitive to environmental issues but that they must balance these concerns with the sobering reality that their citizens need to put food on the table and must have jobs to go to. And when one stops to consider just how vast an area the Amazon is are you begin to appreciate how difficult it must be for any government agency to control what goes on there. In "The Last Forest" you will meet some of the leaders in various governmental entities who are charged with managing these complicated problems. You will also be introduced to a number of important business people who will detail the difficult issues they face in trying to make a go of it in such a vast and remote area. Then you will meet some of the ordinary folk and learn about the way they live. Some of these people live in extremely remote areas along the riverways while others struggle to survive in the congested cities. Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the indispensible map of South America that is included at the beginning of this book. I found myself referring to it again and again! When all is said and done you will definitely have a much clearer understanding of this largely misunderstood region of the world.
"The Last Forest: The Amazon In The Age of Globalization" is a thoroughly engaging and highly informative book. While most of us would love to see the jungles of the Amazon remain untouched for perpetuity deep down we know this is simply not possible. The best we can hope for is that all of the interested parties in the region act responsibly and in moderation. I found "The Last Forest" to be great way to get up to speed on these fascinating and complicated issues. Highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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With a landmass larger than the continental U.S. west of the Mississippi and the richest diversity of plant and animal species on earth, the Amazon has always struck its explorers and would-be exploiters as infinite and largely impenetrable. For decades, anthropologists assumed that permanent human habitation was impossible–but they were wrong. Recently, proof of centuries-old Amazonian civilizations has been unearthed, shifting perceptions of the inhospitability of the rain forest–and providing a precedent for human occupation. Today, as developers and environmentalists clash over the region's future, the seemingly endless forest is fast disappearing in fires, rampant mineral extraction, rogue logging operations, and encroaching urban sprawl.
Through a series of startling human encounters–interviews with government ministers and environmental crusaders, millionaire ranchers and disenfranchised slum dwellers–Mark London and Brian Kelly, longtime explorers and trailblazing chroniclers of the Amazon basin, trace the region's transformation. Logging thousands of miles, London and Kelly take readers from the mushrooming shopping malls of Manaus to the pristine rain forest that still seems beyond the reach of civilization, from the ghostly ruins of abandoned factories and failed plantations to the thriving agribusinesses that one day may feed the entire world and change this landscape forever. Again and again, they collide with the same fundamental question: Is it ...