Deb's Reviews > The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous Peoples Me et

The Ragged Edge of the World by Eugene Linden
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's review
Jan 08, 12

bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction, travel-adventure
Read in January, 2012

During the late 20th and early 21st century, the indigenous peoples and unspoiled environments of the world have been quickly assimilated and/or decimated by the modern consumer culture. Eugene Linden has spent the past 40 years as a journalist traveling to these wild places at "the ragged edge of the world" to see firsthand and to document the changes in enviroment and culture in these remote areas as the world encroaches upon them.

This series of essays serves as a 40-year travelogue of Linden's excursions into the wild. Through his eyes we see the places where he encountered the untamed, unspoiled areas and the peoples and wildlife which inhabit them, and we learn of the ways in which their natural environment and way of life are endangered.

Linden's published work in popular magazines, scientific journals and books, has helped to draw attention to the fragility of these areas, and his voice, along with others, has helped to change the actions of governments to the degree that many of these areas are now protected, albeit tenuously, from further decimation.

"Now, almost miraculously, Midway is once again a republic of birds. Ive been to a number of places where wild animals are trusting of humans, but perhaps none so unlikely as Midway atoll. After more than a century of abuse at the hands of man - first being slaughtered for their feathers by hunters, then being paved over by Seabees, then shelled by the Japanese during World War II , and finally Osterized by the engines of the planes of the U.S. Strategic Air Command during the Cold War - the albatross and other birds don't seem to bear a grudge. Maybe that's because they've won." Midway, p. 186

"So it is in the realm of culture. When I began my career traditional cultures were widely viewed as impediments to development. In my book, The Alms Race, I quoted a development official who stated this principle succinctly, "the village way of life is the root cause of poverty." Now that develoment and modernity have driven traditional cultures to the brink of eradication, more and more people from developed countries have come to recognize that not only do the traditional cultures provide safety nets and meaning for tribes around the world, they are stores of knowledge and often-wondrous expertise." Esotericas, p. 223


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