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The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  38 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Acclaimed naturalist Alex Shoumatoff issues a worldwide call to protect the drastically endangered rainforests of Borneo

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 thre
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Beacon Press
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Average rating 3.32  · 
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 ·  38 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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DNF at around 50%. The author has spent most of his life wandering the world, and he spent most of this book wandering around a point and never finding it. Despite being a book that purports to be about the ravaging of the rainforests in Borneo (an extremely important subject), it takes almost halfway through the (less than 200 page) book for him to get there. Like a typical baby boomer, he spends a lot of time groaning about how the generations that came after his are not connected to nature, s ...more
Robert Lee Hadden
A rambling account of Borneo, rather like your dear old uncle in the nursing home you visited as a child. He had good tales, but rambled around and went from idea to idea in a stream of consciousness kind of way. It is interesting, but also tiresome after a while.
Alex Shoumatoff mainly writes about palm oil tree farming in Borneo, and how it adversely affects the rain forest and the lives of indigenous people like the Penan. His writing goes from the origin of music to religion to forest storie
Tom Roth
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book really disappointed me. Maybe 10% was about the wasting of Borneo. 70% was about traditional people in Borneo and the Amazon and 20% about animal cognition & emotion and interviews with animal scientists. While the book makes a, in my opinion right, moral appeal to reduce palm oil consumption, no arguments are given at all. The author could have spent more time investigating the destructive effects of palm oil on the environment and on the local people.

The authors description of li
Dec 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Couldn't get through it. Too much like a textbook and too much about the author's life before he went to Borneo. Could have been interesting if he were a better writer.
Jennifer Collins
This is a striking work, chronicling one man's journey toward connecting to the natural world and his attempts to not just understand vanishing cultures and worlds, but help to document and save them. From the stories of his first connecting to animals and the forests around his childhood home, on to experiences in Borneo, Shoumatoff paints the natural world and its inhabitants with careful and elegant strokes, offering attention to details that few people might have noticed. As a whole, the boo ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I was initially prepared to be a bit bored with this book expecting lots of facts and figures but instead was completely drawn into this amazing read. The better part of my childhood was spent in the woods absorbing the beauty of nature; sitting at the edge of a small creek for hours, running through brush (that is until the day I came face to face with an enormous web with a garden spider at the center just inches from my face which curtailed the running part for a while.) Like the author, I tr ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, nf
Palm oil is the devil. This is one of the clear take away messages from Shoumatoff’s latest book The Wasting of Borneo. This accessible read offers a clear picture of the devastation that has been occurring in the rain forest of Borneo and its far reaching implications. Sharing wisdom from field experts, the book uses both scientific data and real life anecdotes to educate readers about an important, but lesser known calamity that is impacting indigenous people, animals and the environment.

I app
It pains me to rate this so low because I love orangutans and have traveled to Borneo myself, but I cannot recommend this book to anyone. I read other negative reviews on here and assumed that I wouldn't mind the autobiographical tangents because I like memoir, but there is nothing engaging at all about the author's recollections of his wealthy suburban upbringing. There are also more than a few insensitive passages that detract from the overall book, including a fond childhood memory of COLLECT ...more
Kathy Duffy
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Fascinating book -- the author has spent his life experiencing and reporting on the threatened natural areas left in the world and the aboriginals who live in the area whose lives are being ruined. I was appalled at the Palm Oil Plantations and was horrified when I went to an online list showing all the products its used in.

Thousands of animal species, insects, butterflies and birds have Borneo as their last refuge and they are being logged, burned and turned into palm oil plantations. The Chine
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who enjoys anything to do with nature and learning about different cultures, you'll love this book. It is a book everyone should read because it has a lot to offer about planet earth and our filthy ways that we often don't think twice about. I really enjoyed reading it and I did receive a copy through the goodreads giveaway program.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This book calls attention to the continual ravage of the globe for economic gains. How we continue to be so short sighted in the current condition of ancient and species and and countless other life-forms is beyond conception. Thanks to Alex Shoumatoff and other writers who continue to spread the awareness of global rape.
Esther Marie
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I expected this book to be more about Borneo. At its heart this was a book of nature essays about various regions with the longest narrative being about Borneo. I lost interest early on as Shoumatoff's voice didn't do it for me. Probably appropriate for people who generally like nature writing that is animal-heavy, but it wasn't for me. I wouldn't read his other work based on this book.
Thomas Ryan
A bit disjointed at times but still an important book on the horrors of palm oil and the loss of rain forests and the resulting wildlife destruction. Shoumatoff's early work in the New Yorker was vastly clearer . . .
Luke Martin
Someone else said it best, and I can only paraphrase: The ramblings of an old man.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good info about one of my favorite places, but a little too much of a noble savage tone for my taste.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from's earlyreviewers group in exchange for an honest review.

I was put off initially because it did not dive into the promised topic right away. The author is a long experienced nature journalist. I picked this book because of its content, I hadn't even heard of the author. So it turned me off when the beginning was more about him than the promised topic.

It starts with an introduction to the author's childhood experiences in the forests surroundi
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If nothing else is taken away from reading The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World, this is the important thing to remember; Stop buying anything with palm oil in it, or buy as little as possible.
The devastation caused by the millions of acres of palm oil plantations is almost beyond belief. When the rain forests with their old growth trees are cut and burned to be replaced by palm oil plantations, the deep peat below the surface burns for months. Hundreds of orangutans are fou
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What could have been an interesting (and important) read about the destruction of Borneo's rain forest is instead a meandering, unfocused, semi-autobiographical account of the author's life leading up to a trip to Borneo with a childhood friend. It is more of an eco-travelogue than a serious discussion about the fate Borneo forests.
Scott Hensley
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an Amazing look inside to a Beautiful , but vanishing place. Very moving
Review: The Wasting Of Borneo by Alex Shoumatoff. 3★'s 04/20/2017

Alex Shoumatoff is a pronounce naturalist speaking out to protect the endangered rainforest of Borneo Island. This is an interesting book about the dangers of Borneo’s
rainforest, people, animals, and the diverse ecosystem being overlooked. The most endangered tribal people on earth, the Penan are fighting for their right to exist along with the orangutan, and other life forms, who habitat the rainforest of Borneo Island. Shoumatof
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Feb 04, 2017
rated it it was ok
Apr 21, 2017
Roland Kilcher
rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2018
James O'Brien
rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2017
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE WASTING OF BORNEO: DISPATCHES FROM A VANISHING WORLD by Alex Shoumatoff. This book was sent to me by Beacon Press in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. The exchange was sponsored by LibraryThing’s Early Review program.
Alex Shoumatoff has been a staff writer for The New Yorker and a contributing writer for Vanity Fair, Conde’ Nast, Esquire, Travel & Leisure and Onearth. He has written several books and developed a website - Dispatches from the vanishing world - to raise conscious
Sherry Schmidt
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Jan 04, 2018
rated it it was ok
Jul 31, 2017
Ann Guy
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Oct 10, 2017
Shirley Cagle
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May 03, 2017
Shashikanthverma Mallepalli
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Feb 07, 2019
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