Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Alfred Russel Wallace: A ... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by books-fyi
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: There may be some bent pages. The pages are very nice and clean!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life Paperback – September 1, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$17.03 $4.48
$32.95 FREE Shipping. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life
  • +
  • The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan and the Bird of Paradise (Stanfords Travel Classics)
Total price: $46.81
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Darwin's competitor for proving a theory of natural selection was stuck in the Spice Islands, malarial and enjoying a less hulking reputation than his colleague did. In Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life, Peter Raby (Samuel Butler) shows that, save for these setbacks, Wallace might have been our man on evolution. Like other biographers before him, Raby, who lectures on Drama and English at Homerton College, University of Cambridge, describes the disastrous fire that consumed four years' worth of specimens Wallace had collected in the Amazon, the essay that Wallace sent to Darwin revealing his ideas about natural selection, Darwin's rush to publish his ideas first, Wallace's ongoing but lesser achievements, his long, energetic career. Though boasting no original material (Wallace's life is an open book), Raby's accomplished study is the first in some years and adds greater insight into this likeable underdog's personality.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The fame of Charles Darwin so outshines that of any contemporary biologist that it stuns many students to learn that Darwin must share the credit for discovering natural selection--the driving force behind evolution--with a brilliant scientist now usually consigned to the footnotes. With this marvelously readable biography of Alfred Russel Wallace, Raby has rescued that forgotten pioneer from oblivion. Because of his full elaboration of evolutionary theory, Darwin did eventually earn a higher place in the scientific pantheon--Raby makes short shrift of the sensational conjecture that Darwin stole his theory from Wallace. But why has Wallace--an independent discoverer of the evolutionary secret and one of the most daring and widely traveled naturalists of all time--been relegated to obscurity? The answer lies largely in the scientific community's embarrassment at how this great thinker and explorer entangled himself during his later years in political controversy and spiritualist enthusiasm. Detailing Wallace's crusades against vaccinations and in defense of seances, Raby confronts the scientist's credulity and wrongheadedness; yet he also highlights the lifelong streak of stubborn independence that made possible the early scientific breakthroughs. In capturing the cross-grained complexities of this exceptional collector of beetles and birds, Raby gives readers a fascinating specimen of the most mysterious and unpredictable species of all. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691102406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691102405
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Everyone has heard of evolution, and everyone has heard of Charles Darwin. Indeed, evolution is sometimes called Darwinism. 143 years after papers on the Theory of Evolution were first published, however, relatively few people know that Darwin was a co-discoverer of the theory. Independently, Alfred Russel Wallace had come up with it, and their papers were announced together. Wallace fully deserves as much credit for the theory as Darwin, but will never get it because of Darwin's more voluminous writings on the subject. Nonetheless, as a scientist and as a participant in one of the great dramas of science, Wallace deserves to be better known, and there is now the first biography of him in 20 years, _Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life_ (Princeton University Press) by Peter Raby, a full and fascinating book which tells plenty about Wallace, Darwin, and their theory.
Comparisons to Darwin run throughout the book, quite naturally. Darwin's background was such that he never had to worry much about getting an education or earning a living. Wallace was the son of an attorney who fared poorly, and throughout his life had to fret about money. His formal schooling ended at age 14, and he eventually took up as a professional collector, selling prized specimens from the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago to museums and armchair naturalists. His explorations enabled him to view island species and boundaries, and in 1858, recovering from Malaria, he had his inspiration of survival of the fittest. He wrote from Malay to Darwin a paper about his ideas. Darwin was startled. He could not honorably publish his ideas, now that Wallace had come up with them independently, but he also did not want to lose the prize of his years of work on what turned out to be the backbone of biology.
Read more ›
Comment 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By A Customer on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The blurb from Janet Browne on the cover is misleading. Raby's life of Wallace compares poorly with her lively and insightful biography of Charles Darwin. This is a detailed chronology of Wallace's life, but reveals little of the inner man. Raby is not a scientist, and he fails to put Wallace's ideas into historical context or to clarify the subtle differences between his work and Darwin's. Worth reading if you know nothing about Wallace, but not the definitive work. Janet Browne should take this on if she ever finishes volume two of Darwin's life.
1 Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Victorian Britain was a time of exploration, industrial advance, social and political experiments and scientific speculation. Although many key figures appeared, few covered so many elements of this dynamic as did Alfred Russell Wallace. From almost desparately poor beginnings, Wallace became a dedicated explorer and specimen collector. Raby's sympathetic portrayal of this complex character is a good introduction. Wallace travelled and collected far more widely than did his contemporary Charles Darwin. That both developed the same concept, evolution of species by natural selection, was the result of keen powers of observation. Wallace's wide-spread interests took his attention into areas Darwin either ignored or avoided. Unlike the retiring Darwin, Wallace was at the forefront of many issues, speaking and writing on many issues. Some of these, as Raby carefully recounts, led him into difficulties, both financial and intellectual.
Raby traces the development of a man who almost beggars analysis. Wallace's life was dogged by near penury due to family commitments and lack of regular employment. His decision to explore the upper Amazon basin was almost an act of desparation, but it led to a lifelong interest in nature and "primitive" people. Overcoming the loss of four years of exploration and study, he recovered deftly with a long-term examination of the East Indies archipelago. Early flirtations with socialist ideals gave him a more sympathetic view of indigenous people than the average Victorian Briton. He adopted a strong sense of independence from authoritarian measures, leading him to oppose land enclosures and vaccination, which he saw as doing more harm than good. The great issue in his later years was spiritualism.
Read more ›
Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Raby's biography of Alfred Russel Wallace is extremely clear and easy to read. It has plenty of details about his life, including his relationship with Darwin and his adventures in South America and Indonesia/New Guinea. It is noticeable that Raby is a lecturer in English because he knows how to write well. Transitions are excellent and unusual terms and phrases are carefully explained. Most of the book flows extremely well. On the other hand, as some other reviewers have pointed out, the book is not as detailed as a more fully scientific biography might have been. But as a non-scientist I found more than enough detail to make Wallace's life and career a fascinating read.

Raby lays out Wallace's remarkably open relationship with Darwin, unusual for two people who publicly presented critical new ideas nearly simultaneously. The debate about priority is covered specifically in the last chapter but relevant portions of the extant letters between Darwin and Wallace are spelled out in the main body of the text. The heart of the book is Wallace's adventures in the tropics as a Victorian naturalist. They display Wallace's courage and incredible determination to find and analyze new species. The maps are superb and allow the reader to follow Wallace's travels in detail. Raby also shows Wallace's typical Victorian attitudes and actions that disturb modern readers, from shooting specimens of orangutans and birds of paradise (so that they could be sent back to England) to attitudes toward natives. Wallace was a mixture. He had the 19th century European "moral" superiority toward native people but he also many times publicly expressed a strong criticism of the exploitation of the environment and native people by Europeans.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life