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The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679643052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643050
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The conventional wisdom is that the Amazon River basin and the unique flora and fauna of its fecund rainforests—half of the remaining forest on earth—are on the brink of ecological disaster. Not necessarily so, say the authors of this combination of wonkish policy paper, astute reporting and firsthand adventure narrative, who revisited Brazil's forested middle provinces 25 years after writing their first book, Amazon. Vast swaths of rainforest have indeed fallen to road development, cattle ranching, soy farming and clear-cut logging (including the decimation of mahogany trees). An estimated 3% of the forest was gone in 1980, when London and Kelly made two 100-day journeys through the Amazon. Now, 20% is gone. But there's still hope for "good things to happen," they say, as Brazil's 20-year-old democracy tries to balance economic growth with international environmental concerns. Leading sustainable rainforest development is Brazilian environment minister Marina Silva, who rose from unschooled peasant daughter of an impoverished rubber-plant tapper to win a Senate seat, then became "the most important person in the Amazon" after the 2002 election of Brazil's current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The portrait of her humble beginnings and thoughtful activism humanizes this fact-filled, sometimes dry book. (Feb. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"Save the rain forests" is a cry heard round the world, and there is no doubt that the viability of the Amazon is key to a healthy biosphere. Yet the rain forests must also sustain the people of Brazil, making preservation a complicated undertaking. London and Kelly (Amazon, 1984) present an eye-opening and many-faceted twenty-first-century report on Amazon politics and innovation, crime and poverty. In a superb work of journalism, London and Kelly profile environmentalists, politicians, ranchers, and ordinary citizens; shrewdly consider the impact of new roads and wireless technology; and chronicle the ongoing destruction of forests and displacement of forest people to make way for cattle ranches and soybean fields. Appalling stories about corruption, illegal logging, bloodshed over land titles, and murdered activists abound. For Brazilians, the Amazon is not only "nature's last great preserve," it is also a "land of opportunity," and while many individuals are committed to finding ways to both preserve the forest and support people's livelihoods, the obstacles are daunting, and the rain forest is disappearing at an accelerated rate. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sreeram Ramakrishnan VINE VOICE on April 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In a pithy, mostly engaging first-person account, the book provides an excellent synopsis of the various factors impacting Amazonia, especially Brazil, vis-a-vis economic and social development. The discussion is often framed within the context of protection of the environment and covers a gamut of issues - from political issues to impact of cattle. By largely using a first-person narrative, the book is able to provide a broad view of the different pertinent issues, though one cannot consider its treatment of any of the topics to be comprehensive. Regardless, the book is informative, provides an excellent background on previous research, and is for the most part annotated with excellent notes. One glaring disappointment is the lack of any photographs/plates in the book that could added impact to the narrations. The concluding chapter is fairly "decaf" with no real specific solutions cited to the problems raised. Perhaps thats the point of the book - the problems raised in the book is too complex to solve using traditional approaches. The struggles of a society (and state) as it "modernizes" is highlighted in an excellent manner using the various chapters which have a "stand-alone" feel to it. That lack of tight integration among the chapters adds to the broad view the book tries to paint. A good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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" 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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mark London and Brian Kelly come back to the Amazon after having written about it back in the 1980s. They find a very different world, where they find development alongside with poverty and environmental degradation. The book is centered upon understanding the different regions (states) within the Amazon and the differing dynamics within them. The book will not give definitive answers to the region's problems, but rather paint the picture and suggest directions in which we should move.

A main and important conclusion is the realization that the Amazon is not a pristine jungle without people, but rather that people are an integral part of it, and that any solution needs to take into account the widespread presence of population -- the concept of sustainable development needs to include good living standards for people within the forest. The book also points to some successes in preservation, such as the establishment of the Manaus Free Trade Zone as a means of attracting people away from the interior and providing good living standards.

The book flows from a history of the Amazon as a portuguese colony, to a Brazilian outpost to the center of the rubber world, to present day. A few key players are highlighted, such as Blairo Maggi (governor of Mato Grosso and the largest soy farmer in the world) and Eduardo Braga (governor of Amazonas and responsible for the reduction of deforestation by 53% in the largest Amazon state). It is also a travel book, highlighting the many different places and realities seen by the authors, from the wealthy shopping malls of Manaus to the poor slums of Altamira.

Highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to get a good image of the current status of development in the Amazon and hoping to understand the direction in which the region is moving.
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