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Whispering In The Giant's Ear

Overview

An intimate and powerful account of living in Bolivia during a time of crisis and change.

Long the obscure "Tibet of South America," Bolivia emerged as a world flashpoint during the four years William Powers lived there as an aid worker. CNN and the New York Times have shown images of Aymara women in bowler hats standing down tanks; citizen protests have ousted multinationals and two pro-globalization presidents. In A Natural Nation, Powers breathes life into the recent ...

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Overview

An intimate and powerful account of living in Bolivia during a time of crisis and change.

Long the obscure "Tibet of South America," Bolivia emerged as a world flashpoint during the four years William Powers lived there as an aid worker. CNN and the New York Times have shown images of Aymara women in bowler hats standing down tanks; citizen protests have ousted multinationals and two pro-globalization presidents. In A Natural Nation, Powers breathes life into the recent struggles of the Bolivian people. When he arrives in the rainforest, he meets an extraordinary Chiquitano Indian named Salvador who is fighting the extinction of his people. At the same time, the clock ticks for three multinational energy companies forced to curb global warming. Both goals depend upon the survival of a stretch of pristine jungle. But as Indians and oil giants join to launch the world's largest Kyoto Protocol project--using forests to absorb dangerous planetary greenhouse gasses--Salvador's life is threatened by loggers collaborating with a racist Bolivian oligarchy. The quest for a single rainforest is subsumed in a movement of national liberation. A Natural Nation goes beneath the headlines, gracefully weaving memoir, travel, history and reportage into an unforgettable chronicle of a "poor little rich country" attempting to engage the world without losing its soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
During the last five years, the struggles of Bolivia's indigenous community against government corruption and globalization have garnered unprecedented visibility for the nation around the world. As an aid worker living in Bolivia, Powers did not just witness the change; he was immersed in the action, forced to juggle the country's internal conflict with his environmental organization's mission of saving the rain forest. By "thinking locally and acting globally," he forges a delicate partnership with Indians and multinational energy corporations to designate a swath of the Amazon forest for absorbing greenhouse gases. While matters of politics and the environment provide the framework for the book, much of the story is focused on the friendships he builds through genuine curiosity and emotion as he attempts to truly understand the needs of the people around him. What results is a deeply personal and informative chronicle of Powers's ambitions, the Indians' ambitions and perhaps most importantly in a country as physically diverse and dramatic as Bolivia, nature's ambitions. Although more background on Bolivia would have been helpful, the book succeeds in using the country's recent history to reveal how the worldwide battle for increased economic equality and environmental conservation operates locally. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Powers (Friends of Nature Foundation), a veteran developmental aid worker based in Bolivia, here echoes themes from his previous work, Blue Clay People: Seasons on Africa's Fragile Edge. He explores the clash between indigenous communities, their own ambitions for development, and the force of the world's global economy. Powers provides a personal narrative on the plight of the Indian populations of Bolivia, told principally through his relationship with an Amazon Indian, Salvador. He craftily interweaves the story of one Amazon tribe, the broader story of a nation struggling to come to terms with its identity, and the global movement toward green globalization. A central theme of this highly personalized work revolves around the Amazon Indians' struggle for recognition, both politically and economically. Readers should be aware that Powers uses a technique he calls grafting, in which a particular character or event may be used to represent several encounters. This allows him to present what was in fact a four-year odyssey into a compact narrative. Recommended for all libraries.-Deborah Lee, Mississippi State Univ. Lib., Starkville Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596911031
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 969,535
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.29 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

William Powers has worked for over a decade in development aid in Latin America, Africa, Washington, D.C., and Native North America. His project in the Bolivian Amazon won the 2003 Harvard University JFK School prize for innovation. He is author of the Liberia memoir Blue Clay People, and contributor to two recent books on tropical biodiversity. His essays have appeared in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, and he provides commentary for World Vision Radio and NPR. Powers, who is still based in Bolivia, is 2004-2005 recipient of the Open Door Foundation fellowship for nonfiction

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Table of Contents

I The shimmering forest 1
II Civilized barbarians 87
III Rebellion 161
IV A delicate space 237
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