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August 26 , 2009

A Place in the Rain Forest

Settling the Costa Rican Frontier


In the 1950s, Darryl Cole-Christensen and his family were among the first settlers of the Coto Brus, an almost impenetrable, mountainous rain forest region of southeastern Costa Rica. In this evocative book, he captures the elemental struggles and rewards of settling a new frontier—an experience forever closed to most people in Western, urbanized society. With the perspective of more than forty years' residence in the Coto Brus, Cole-Christensen ably describes both the settlers' dreams of bringing civilization and progress to the rain forest and the sweeping and irreversible changes they caused throughout the ecosystem as they cut the rain forest down. Writing neither to apologize for nor to defend their actions, he instead illuminates the personal and subjective factors that cause people to risk danger and hardship for the uncertain rewards of settling a frontier. In his own words, Cole-Christensen says, "This is a book for the scientist who wants to recapture a sense of an incalculable world departed, for the student who asks: How is it that our forebears changed and restructured this land? For the adventurer who dreams of the expanse of frontiers, for every person who, having passed once through the darkening forest along a path in twilit stillness looks back to find that a blanket of murmurs remains."
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