The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise (Oxford paperbacks) Paperback – 1 Oct 1989
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"One of the great classics of travel literature. It is indeed good news that Oxford University Press has now made available a handsome new edition of the book . . . . Natural scientists and anthropologists, in addition to being entertained, will find a vast store of scientific facts, many of which can no longer be observed firsthand." --Science Books and Films
This is one the first and most important books about 18th century Malaysia and covers a wide array of topics from Malaysian culture and history to nature and wildlife. it is essential reading for anyone interested in Malaysia.
A century and a half after it was first published, this book remains one of the great classics of natural history and travel—perhaps the greatest. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) deserves equal billing with Charles Darwin for his independently drawn but parallel conclusions on the theory of evolution. Darwin himself called Wallace "generous and noble" and referred favorably to his work in later editions of The Origin of Species.
The Malay Archipelago is an extraordinarily accessible book. There is a wealth of detail about pre–modern life in the indonesian archipelago which Wallace accumulated on over 60 separate journeys spanning 14,000 miles. He was equally fascinated by the exotic peoples, flora and fauna he encountered in his epic travels. A mark of his achievement lies in the size of the collections he bequeathed to british museums—some 125,000 specimens ranging from large mammals to tiny insects, exotic butterflies and splendid birds of paradise.
His basic thesis stands to this day: that two separate biological zones border these islands, separated by the deep–water channel now known as the Wallace line, running between bali and Lombok, which only a relative handful of species have crossed. The islands east of bali in effect form a transitional zone where some of the world's strangest creatures are found. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
An interesting insight into the groundwork that helped to develop the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, it also compares the British and the Dutch methods of colonisation, and controversially comes out on the side of the Dutch - against all current (and our received) perceptions of the Dutch as ruthless, money-grubbing opportunists.
Wallace was also unusual in using geographic and geological features combined with population spreads (human & biological) to support the new theories of continental drift and a world older than the Biblical model.
I'm lost in adsmiration for the way he managed to survive depravation, lack of company, housing, support, money and produce the finest collection of birds and insects that the world had ever seen; make comparative studies of the linguistic traits of all the major tribes; keep a detailed diary of all his travels ... all this in a known area of cannibals and head-hunters with only 3 or 4 assistants and he the only white person for hundreds of miles. Compare this to other explorers like Richard Burton who needed an entourage of several hundred for all their 'essentials'.
This book is a very readable profile of an enignatic Victorian naturalist at a crucial period in scintific history - would that I could have met him!
Wallace should be more famous, but so should this entire part of the world. Wallace travelled through island South-East Asian, excepting a number of islands including the whole of the Philippines, in several trips in an effort to find new species of bird and animal. He stayed in Maluku. He stayed on the west of New Guinea. He spent a great deal of time in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Timor. He collected innumerable specimens, and saw innumerable wonders. And in this book, with an illustrator, he logged and wrote about them all. Birds of paradise, Papuan tobacco pipes, the cuscus, Dayak rope bridges, Javanese mountains - it's all here.
That alone should be enough to entice any reader. What you will find is a compassionate, knowledgeable man, talking about beautiful islands, different groups of people, and colonialism, as well as flora and fauna, and hopefully your appreciation for the diversity and beauty of these islands should increase. I actually don't know how to sum up the book, not really. It's rather large, and brilliantly written. It's wonderful to sit and read with a cup of tea. And it has the capacity to make you want to book a ticket to Jakarta, so you can travel about just as he did.
Anyway, a note on this edition: the paper is of fantastic quality, and the bindings are great. The type and images are perfect.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book but very poorly printed. States "illustrated" but is not. Type is difficult to read. Cheap print :-(Published 10 months ago by Cathy Lewis
this copy is scanned from a college library it has not been proof read and lots of sentences and letters are incomprehensible first book i've had to return on Amazon!Published 15 months ago by Neil Thomas
This book is not as you are lead to believe by the "Look inside" advertising feature.The text in the book you will receive is a tightly cramped dark block centered in a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by andrew rutherford
The Malay Archipelago - A R Wallace (Periplus edition)
Alfred Russell Wallace's Malay Archipelago is a wonderful Victorian-era adventure, combining travel to far-flung... Read more
This book did not match the one displayed. There were no chapters, sentences stopped part way down a page, leaving the rest of the page blank and restarting on the next page. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Mr Ian Burns
A seminal work giving an insight into a scientist methods of the time. An essential book for all biologists and ecologists.Published 21 months ago by Mike Jones
Printing isn't great but for the price it's fine. Fantastic book, genius.Published 23 months ago by Shannon
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