The Sahara is a desert so vast that no airplane can diminish it. Certainly this one couldn’t. I sat behind the pilots in the cockpit of an Air Algeria turboprop lumbering at 18,000 feet across southern Algeria. The airplane was a Dutch-built Fokker 27, a stodgy forty-passenger twin, doing 220 miles an hour; it had come from the capital city, Algiers, on a roundabout three-day run to the oases.
At Alang, in India, on a six-mile stretch of oily, smoky beach, 40,000 men tear apart half of the world’s discarded ships, each one a sump of toxic waste. Environmentalists in the West are outraged. The shipbreakers want to be left alone - and maybe they should be.
The most influential critic in the world today is not a snob or an obvious aesthete, as one might imagine, but an ordinary American, a burly, awkward, hardworking guy from the backcountry of northern Maryland. His name is Robert Parker Jr., Bob for short, and he has no formal training in wine.
In 1972, crude oil began to flow from Texaco’s wells in the area around Lago Agrio (“sour lake”), in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, the author investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump.
For seven days last May the city of São Paulo, Brazil, teetered on the edge of a feral zone where governments and countries lose their meaning. That zone is a wilderness inhabited already by large populations worldwide, but officially denied and rarely described.