Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who'd Stop at Nothing To Win

Crown. Sept. 2014. 304p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780770436346. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780770436353. LAW
OrangeReviewStarJournalist Barrett (Bloomberg Businessweek) has done it again. As with his previous book Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, the author has written an enthralling, deeply researched volume about the intersection of law and individual rights. The question that readers will have at the conclusion of this one is: Who is the villain in this tale? The Harvard University-educated social activist lawyer Steven Donziger, who sued Texaco (later Chevron) on behalf of Ecuadorian peasants for despoiling the rain forest; the oil company; Ecuador; or all of them? The work benefits greatly from Barrett's use of primary source material and interviews with the participants. After setting the scene in the first three chapters, the author proceeds chronologically from the 1960s, when oil was discovered in Ecuador, to the oil company striking back in court against Donziger in 2013. The final result is still pending. This book excels in describing the peasants' plight, the effect on Ecuador, and the lawyers' battles. Barrett skillfully takes readers inside the players' minds and exposes the underside of high-stakes litigation.
VERDICT A sure-fire movie prospect for readers interested in human rights, the environment, and the law. [See Prepub Alert, 3/31/14.]
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