Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed "Law of the Jungle" by Paul M. Barrett, a book about the $19 billion legal battle between Ecuador and Chevron. He writes:
In March 2002, three Amazonian Indians paid a visit to New York. Dressed in palm skirts and sporting blow-dart guns, they had come from Ecuador as part of an environmental lawsuit-cum-publicity stunt organized by a charismatic American lawyer named Steven Donziger. After they walked down Broadway in near-freezing weather, Mr. Donziger took his barefoot clients to an East Village restaurant so they could sample “nouvelle Southwestern cuisine.”
“Given a choice,” writes journalist Paul M. Barrett in “Law of the Jungle,” his well-crafted account of the epic suit, “they would have preferred roast monkey.”
By the time Mr. Donziger hosted the Amazonians in Manhattan, the case was nearly a decade old. It had begun in 1993 as a $1.5 billion class-action against Texaco, which had operated a subsidiary in Ecuador from the late 1960s to the early ’90s. The plaintiffs alleged that the oil company (acquired by Chevron in 2001) had left behind a toxic dump in the jungle. Visitors to Ecuador’s Oriente region, where the wells had been drilled, could easily find open pits of gooey black oil. One expert witness hired by Mr. Donziger described the environmental damage as “larger than the Chernobyl disaster,” though he later recanted that testimony.
And listen to our podcast on "Law of the Jungle" featuring the author, Paul M. Barrett.