The Indonesian archipelago is a land of timeless natural beauty that, in the 21st century, faces unprecedented environmental degradation. It was also the biological laboratory of Alfred Russel Wallace, who, working independently of Charles Darwin, discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection. Wallace, who travelled for eight years in the archipelago, was one of the greatest field naturalists and nature writers of his century. A prodigious collector, he was the first to bring living birds of paradise to the West. This account of a true explorer sweeps from the time of Wallace's 19th-century discoveries in biogeography to the looming biodiversity crisis of the 21st century - from the exploration of natural wonders to the exploitation of natural resources. The result is a history that portrays the intricate connections of human life and natural life.