GREAT ANALYSIS OF CURRENT SITUATION IN THE AMAZON, April 5, 2007
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.