In his eleventh book, but his first in almost two decades, seasoned travel writer Alex Shoumatoff takes readers on a journey from the woods of rural New York to the rain forests of the Amazon and Borneo, documenting both the abundance of life and the threats to these vanishing Edens in a wide-ranging narrative.
Alex and his best friend, Davie, spent their formative years in the forest of Bedford, New York. As adults they grew apart, but bonded by the “imaginary jungle” of their childhood, Alex and Davie reunited fifty years later for a trip to a real jungle, in the heart of Borneo. During the intervening years, Alex had become an author and literary journalist, traveling the world to bring to light places, animals, and indigenous cultures in peril. The two reconnect and spend three weeks together on Borneo, one of the most imperiled ecosystems on earth. Insatiable demand for the palm oil ubiquitous in consumer goods is wiping out the world’s most ancient and species-rich rain forest, home to the orangutan and countless other life-forms, including the Penan people, with whom Alex and Davie camp. The Penan have been living in Borneo’s rain forest for millennia, but 90 percent of the lowland rain forest has already been logged and burned to make way for vast oil-palm plantations. Among the most endangered tribal people on earth, the Penan are fighting for their right to exist.