The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution

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This remarkable account of Tim Severin's voyage to the Indonesian Archipelago in search of the island paradise that naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had explored 140 years before him offers both the thrills of exotic adventure and the marvels of scientific discovery. In a replica of the boat that Wallace himself sailed to the Spice Islands and with Wallace's The Malay Archipelago as his guide, Severin travels to remote shores that still harbor such rare but fast-disappearing creatures as red birds of paradise, ...

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1998 Hard cover Illustrated. New in New dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 288 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Overview

This remarkable account of Tim Severin's voyage to the Indonesian Archipelago in search of the island paradise that naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had explored 140 years before him offers both the thrills of exotic adventure and the marvels of scientific discovery. In a replica of the boat that Wallace himself sailed to the Spice Islands and with Wallace's The Malay Archipelago as his guide, Severin travels to remote shores that still harbor such rare but fast-disappearing creatures as red birds of paradise, flying foxes, and bird-winged butterflies. Not only does he discover the now-endangered flora and fauna that Wallace recorded in his expeditions, he also pays due homage to his intrepid predecessor, the man who provided Darwin with the ideas and principles that changed forever the way we view nature and with him co-authored the theory of evolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Written in the vein of Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, this engaging book takes a fascinating armchair voyage through the Indonesian Archipelago journeys of Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Author and world-class explorer Severin (The China Voyage) builds a close approximation of the boat Wallace used and then relies on Wallace's immensely well-received book, The Malay Archipelago, to plot his modern route. The point is twofold: to compare the teeming tropical environment Wallace so carefully combed and beautifully described to today's, and to remind 20th-century readers that Darwin's theory of natural selection was not his alone. Severin does a credible job of showing Wallace's likelyalbeit unknowingrole in helping Darwin pull together his momentous concept after 20 years of research. According to Severin, Wallace put the basic concept down on paper in between bouts of delirium occasioned by jungle fever. He then sent his ideas to Darwin and others in the English scientific community for feedback. Darwin published his tome Origin of Species not long after. Although the theory of evolution by natural selection was initially called the Darwin-Wallace Theory, Wallace's name was soon dropped in most circles. Overall, Severin's environmental message is more upbeat than his historical reporting. Many of the areas Wallace once traipsed remain relatively sound ecologically. The key to their good health, Severin believes, lies in how the natives co-exist with the land, trying not to destroy more wildlife than is necessary. It's a moral that readers of Severin's splendid book will embrace, and one with which Wallace could easily have agreed. Illustrated with numerous line drawings and 12 pages of full-color photos. BOMC featured selection. (May)
KLIATT
The voyage of Charles Darwin that inspired him to develop the theory of natural selection does not tell the whole story of how this idea came to be. The work of Alfred Wallace, who explored the Spice Islands that constitute the archipelago of Indonesia and wrote Malay Archipelago, is also significant, and may have influenced the direction of Darwin's thinking. Some 140 years after Wallace's original voyage in 1858, Severin created a replica of a native boat called a prahu, equipped it with a small motor (to avoid becoming becalmed), and recreated Wallace's journey. But there were, inevitably, major differences. Severin braved ill health and many dangers, as had Wallace before him, but spent only a month for every year of Wallace's voyage. He sent messages via the Internet to the world about his trip, engaging the interest of 5,000 school children in 119 schools. With the eye of a modern ecologist, Severin studied the current state of the natural world, noting some pluses in human/nature relationships, but also many things that need to be changed if the wild is to endure. He saw people dealing in disappearing species of colorful birds and insects and suspected the existence of slavery. The book includes color snapshots that Severin took during the voyage—of the water craft, the local people he encountered along the way and who assisted the voyage, and the natural landscape. There are also some b/w prints of watercolor sketches. Severin treats at some length the relationship between Darwin, who was highly educated, and Wallace, who was self-taught, having left school at 14. There is still some conjecture that the original idea for natural selection, the "keystone" concept, may havecome from the brain of Wallace, not Darwin. Darwin at one point dismissed Wallace as an "uneducated specimen collector," but late in life generously arranged for Wallace to receive a pension. An optimistic person, Wallace outlived Darwin by 30 years: "She always maintained that Darwin should have the credit and had done by far the greater work." This book is written more for adults than for young people, but students who became aware of the trip as it was going on, or who find a dearth of material about Wallace for their research, will enjoy reading it. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1997, Carroll & Graf, 267p, 23cm, illus, $14.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Former Lib. Media Spec., Magic City Campus, Minot, ND, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786705184
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/26/1998
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Fever Victim 1
2 Kei Island Prahu 22
3 Big Kei 42
4 Aru 68
5 Turtle Beach 94
6 Jewels of the Moluccas 110
7 The Sago Zone 130
8 Red Birds of Paradise 145
9 Bacan 167
10 Ternate 183
11 Wallace's Standard Wing 201
12 Maleos and Bats 218
13 Gadfly and Guru 235
Epilogue 254
Further Reading 264
Acknowledgements 265
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