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Plundering Paradise: The Hand of Man on the Galapagos Islands
Synopses & Reviews
Mention the Galápagos Islands to almost anyone, and the first things that come to mind are iguanas, tortoises, volcanic beaches, and, of course, Charles Darwin. That's what Michael D'Orso imagined when he first traveled there three years ago. What he discovered on these idyllic islands, though, was a tropical paradise under siege from an onslaught of desperately poor South American refugees and corrupt fishing fleets that have brought crime, crowding, pollution, and violence.
In a narrative as rich and exotic as the landscape and creatures that frame it, D'Orso tells the story of the odd European adventurers who first settled the Galapagos in the early twentieth century, of the eccentric Americans who arrived in the mid-1950s, of the scientists who dug in a decade after that, and of the ecotourism industry that has burgeoned over the last twenty years.
Plundering Paradise is an inside look at the Galapagos as seen through the eyes of the people who actually live there. It is a story of alarm and of crisis, but also of hope, as the men and women who treasure the beauty and wonder of these ageless islands gather their forces to fight to protect them.
"This is a stellar study of the alchemy of man and nature." Publishers Weekly
"Michael D'Orso points out in this powerful and alarming new book, the Galapagos now serves as a laboratory for teasing out the answer to the practical question that will likely dominate our century: Can people work out some kind of rapprochement with the rest of nature, or are we doomed to degrade every spot we inhabit?" Boston Globe
"Part travelogue, part history, and part sociological study, D'Orso's story should help shed light on these exotic islands of corruption." Christian Science Monitor
"D'Orso is...an unpretentious reader's representative as he travels from island to island, spotting human quirks alongside natural wonders." Los Angeles Times
"[D'Orso] constantly reminds us not just of the vulnerability of the islands but also of the human institutions that ought to be protecting them. The rotting underside of a lovely, fragile leaf." Kirkus Reviews
Mention the Galápagos Islands to almost anyone, and the first things that spring to mind are iguanas, tortoises, volcanic beaches, and, of course, Charles Darwin. But there are people living there, too — nearly 20,000 of them. A wild stew of nomads and grifters, dreamers and hermits, wealthy tour operators and desperately poor South American refugees, these inhabitants have brought crime, crowding, poaching, and pollution to the once-idyllic islands. In Plundering Paradise, Michael D'Orso explores the conflicts on land and at sea that now threaten to destroy this fabled "Eden of Evolution."
About the Author
Michael D'Orso is the author of the New York Times bestseller Like Judgment Day: The Ruin and Redemption of a Town Called Rosewood and has collaborated on many notable titles, including Walking with the Wind, with Senator John Lewis. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
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