GOOD HISTORY OF AMAZON RELATED EVENTS, ONLY OK ANALYSIS, January 5, 2006
In this book, the author intends to initially describe the history of major projects and dreams for the Amazon through military and civilian rule in Brazil. The facts are indeed interesting and likely correct. The author describes in good detail the grand dreams of the military government to develop the region. Then he describes the sea change that occured when democracy returned. With democracy, there was a renewed interest in preservation.
However, the analysis is difficult to swallow from a few perspectives: 1. Much of the analysis is written from a traditional marxist point of view, with a veil of class conflict, which in this case means poor indians and farmers vs international interests. It often feels like he simplifies scenarios by bringing in the marxist class conflict perspective to explain situations that are in fact more complex than that. 2. Along with the marxist perspective, any explorer in search of profit is poorly portrayed in the book. The author focuses on government action and plays down private enterprise in the Amazon as basically undesirable. It becomes clear quite quickly that the author does not believe in capitalism. 3. There is a main thesis, that democracy brings about preservation. Though it seems to be true, the book forcefully tries to fit every single fact to match the thesis. Some conclusions do not seem warranted.
Overall, I would not recommend this to someone just getting acquainted with the region. If you are knowledgeable of the economics and sociology of the Amazon, then this is a good book to give you a different non-mainstream somewhat biased perspective.