The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw by Bruce Barcott
One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird

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“The first time we came here I didn’t know what to expect,” she told me as we paddled upstream. “What we found just blew me away. Jaguars, pumas, river otters, howler monkeys. The place was like a Noah’s Ark for all the endangered species driven out of the rest of Central America. There was so much life! That expedition was when I first saw the macaws.”

As a young woman, Sharon Matola lived many lives. She was a mushroom expert, an Air Force survival specialist, and an Iowa housewife. She hopped freight trains for fun and starred as a tiger tamer in a traveling Mexican circus. Finally she found her one true calling: caring for orphaned animals at her own zoo in the Central American country of Belize.

Beloved as “the Zoo Lady” in her adopted land, Matola became one of Central America’s greatest wildlife defenders. And when powerful outside forces conspired with the local government to build a dam that would flood the nesting ground of the last scarlet macaws in Belize, Sharon Matola was drawn into the fight of her life.

In The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, award-winning author Bruce Barcott chronicles Sharon Matola’s inspiring crusade to stop a multinational corporation in its tracks. Ferocious in her passion, she and her confederates–a ragtag army of courageous locals and eccentric expatriates–endure slander and reprisals and take the fight to the courtroom and the boardroom, from local village streets to protests around the world.

As the dramatic story unfolds, Barcott addresses the realities of economic survival in Third World countries, explores the tension between environmental conservation and human development, and puts a human face on the battle over globalization. In this marvelous and spirited book, Barcott shows us how one unwavering woman risked her life to save the most beautiful bird in the world.

"Barcott’s compelling narrative is suspenseful right up to the last moment." –Publisher's Weekly

"An engrossing but sad account of a brave and quirky champion of nature."–Kirkus

“…A riveting account of one woman’s fight to save one of the last bastions of an endangered
Species. . . Barcott writes of international politics, ecology and endangered species, and human relations with equal facility. This real page-turner of narrative nonfiction is hard to put down.”
–Booklist


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Bruce Barcott

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Bruce Barcott, author of The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier, is a contributing editor at Outside magazine. His feature articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Sports Illustrated, Harper's, Utne Reader, and other publications. He contributes reviews to The New York Times Book Review and the public radio show Living on Earth, and is a former Ted Scripps Fellow at the University of Colorado. He lives in Seattle with his wife and their two children.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published December 27, 2008 by Random House. 338 pages
Genres: History, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw

Kirkus Reviews

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Barcott (The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier, 1997)—a contributing editor at Outside magazine, where this book began as an article—takes readers deep into Belize, a former British colony between Mexico and Guatemala noted for its lush wildlife, English-speaking refugees ...

Jan 01 2008 | Read Full Review of The Last Flight of the Scarle...

The New York Times

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In this story of a bitter fight against a dam in western Belize, Bruce Barcott mashes up adventure, nature writing and biography in a steamy climate of corruption and intrigue.

Feb 17 2008 | Read Full Review of The Last Flight of the Scarle...

Entertainment Weekly

The plucky American arrived in Belize in the '80s, founded a popular zoo, and became an expert on the scarlet macaw, an increasingly rare rainbow-colored parrot.

Feb 01 2008 | Read Full Review of The Last Flight of the Scarle...

Bookmarks Magazine

Tim McNulty Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars "Barcott’s account of the fight that followed is nearly encyclopedic, sometimes to the point of overwhelming the reader with details on the history of dams, the geology of rivers, Caribbean piracy, offshore banking, the complex business of endangere...

Apr 10 2008 | Read Full Review of The Last Flight of the Scarle...

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