In This Review

The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization
The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization
By Mark London and Brian Kelly
Random House, 2007, 336 pp

A journalist-lawyer team return to Brazil to update their 1983 book, "Amazon", and find a world transformed: conservationists who hoped to fence off the Amazon have been swept aside, while deforestation and development proceed at a feverish pace. Yet London and Kelly strike a generally hopeful tone. Brazilians are increasingly engaged in debating how best to marry economic development and environmental sustainability in the context of "the world is flat" globalized markets. The authors introduce us to smart government planners, innovative scientists, and self-confident entrepreneurs experimenting with sophisticated syntheses; given the vastness and variety of microclimates in Amazonia, no single formula seems likely to emerge. Particularly fascinating are the comparisons with the opening of the American West and the serious threat that booming Amazonian agriculture -- blessed with abundant sun, rain, land, and cheap labor -- poses to subsidized U.S. farmers. Enamored of Brazil, the authors mimic local hostility toward the international environmental movement, even as they record its catalytic role in fostering Brazilian environmentalism. Although not always analytically precise, "The Last Forest" offers an enthralling, eye-opening journey through the planet's wealthiest, most contested remaining frontier.