on 30 December 2010
A chronicle of the travels of an under-rated Scientist/Explorer, Alfred Russel Wallace who did much to make the origin of species from his viewpoint and with discussions with Darwin, the great 'discovery' of the our time. A must read for all who have an interest in great travel exploits and all those who have an interest in natural history and evolution.
Although the author himself says he is no writer, he is patently wrong - this book is full of wonderful descriptive, poetic passages, which underline this charming man's love of nature and dedication to the truth of scientific study, as opposed to the accepted 'truths' of the day.
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!
on 30 September 2010
This is the most gorgeous and incredible book. Wallace is becoming more and more famous as the man who shares credit with Darwin for the theory of natural selection, although that might be a bit strong. Certainly, Darwin's ideas were more developed, and he seems to have appreciated the idea of natural selection and evolution a bit more than Wallace, who was something of a spiritualist. But never mind that.
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. Like most Periplus books, it is an excellent production. The book also bears the original dedication - to Darwin, of course, his friend.
I'd recommend it to literally anyone who can read English and has an interest in people, places, and animals.
on 8 July 2013
I'm sure the content that Wallace wrote in his travel book is excellent, but the copy I received was unreadable. It had incomplete sentences, chapters started half way through a sentence, printers' notes were within the text, captions stuck in the middle of sentences - and no images - and the dedication plate by Wallace was missing. The book was riddled with this the whole way through. I wonder if I was just unlucky and this was a one off complete missprint? I returned this copy via Amazon's returns policy (very easy) and have ordered another version of this excellent travel book.
on 13 October 2009
After reading this book, this is definitely my favorite book about insular South-East Asia. A.R. Wallace traveled the Malay archipelago and the Malay peninsula in his naturalist quest of finding, hunting, catching and describing all species of mammals, birds, insects, seashells etc. Along the way he describes as well the ecology, geology, ethnology, sociology, (colonial) administration and the persons he meets. All these subjects are accounted for in minute detail. The best thing is that it's all written down clearly and it is very accessible. However, this book is celebrated most for the impulse it gave to the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, which is made famous by Wallace's time companion and fellow scientist Charles Darwin. There is debate about who had the main idea of the theory of evolution first, nonetheless, we can say that Wallace clearly contributed a great deal in synthesizing this paradigm. Above all, he already noted the distinction between the biogeographic realms of SE Asia and Australia. Let's not forget that this man was already thinking about something like plate tectonics, something only scientifically accepted in the 1960's. Next to his contributions to the evolutionary theory and biogeography, and put aside the little amount of Victorian 'zeitgeist', Wallace's views on ethnology and colonial administration gives a clear idea how it must have been to live and travel in this corner of the world from 1854 to 1862. Some (many) of his ideas still stand, others are strengthened by current science. One should really think about his words on the last pages. I think this book is a milestone in science but a very exciting and amusing travel book at the same time. It is great for understanding evolutionary theory and it's perfect to carry it along when traveling through Indonesia, especially when you get to the places where Wallace has been as well.
on 14 July 2013
A most disappointig book, all round
A) Only Vol 1,not stated on information page.
B)No Contents included,therefore no references.
C)Very poor OCR,No efffort at Editting,removal of junk characters or split words
D)Only plus is you can also download original scanning as a PDF file.(Note graphic images only)
Recommend going for Alfred Russel Wallace /Stuick edition Vol I or Vol II
on 20 October 2013
I received this a few days ago and I had to return it and hopefully, it will be picked up tomorrow. There are typesetting errors where sentences just run into each other or just ends in mid-sentence. There are spelling mistakes and one of the pages has a whole missing bit. So I am disappointed as judging by the few paragraphs I read through and before deciding that it was best to return it, it would have been a great book to read.
on 10 September 2013
I ordered the paperback so I cannot speak for the other versions. It is a very good book if you are interested in the subject, however the quality of print was shameful. There were sections divided by text, there was a university library possession note at the front and an unfathomable amount of spelling mistakes. I believe the copy I received is a text recognition software scanned version from a library being sold online which would account for all the formatting errors and spelling mistakes which means they haven't even proof read.
Buy a different version
on 16 May 2013
Awful print quality which has clearly been copied so cheaply that even the margins have comments and ticks from the original copy.
Don't buy this if you want readable print and quality copies of the engravings.
on 9 May 2013
This book has been produced by scanning an original version, running the scan through some (not very good) text recognition software, and then printing it - the text frequently turns to gobbledegook, there are many errors on the first 3 pages - when I gave up and sent it back to amazon. I cannot imagine a way in which anyone would be satisfied by purchasing this book.