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Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology Paperback – December 17, 2003
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From Library Journal
- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“In Infinite Tropics, Andrew Berry does a wonderful job of excerpting Wallace’s many writings ... Berry tells this story, ‘one of the most celebrated in the history of science’, beautifully.”—Daily Telegraph
“Berry’s anthology of the most important writings ... should be read to appreciate fully the sophistication of Wallace’s biological thought.”—Times Literary Supplement
“Berry’s editorial commentary is succinct, accurate, and generally right to the point, and he has chosen his selections wisely, giving his readers a splendid, if somewhat teasing, glimpse of Wallace’s genius.”—Choice - A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2002
Top Customer Reviews
With credentials like these, it is hardly credible that he is as little known today as he is. Certainly his "other man" status viz. Darwin hasn't helped, but neither did he during his own life attempt to draw attention to himself in all these connections. Add to this a perfectly clear and enquiring mind, a bit of naivety, and one of the most uncompromisingly pro-"little guy" understandings of the human condition, and you have a personality who is much overdue for re-examination.
Berry's anthology continues (but does not end) the recent Wallace renaissance. Berry has done a remarkable job of covering the range of Wallace's interests in just one volume, though to do so he has had to provide excerpts rather than whole works (with the exception of two or three of Wallace's most famous essays). He has also gotten the history right, and provided an editorial narrative that is mostly right on target, and pleasantly composed. If you are the kind of person who likes adventures in the realms of logical and sympathetic thinking, you'll love this collection!
This fine book is slightly marred with Gould's tendentious remarks about Wallace in a short preface. If Wallace's reputation suffers it is partly because the Darwinian establishment keeps him in a box, witness this preface with its polite sideswiping. I hope it will increase sales with Gould's name and that readers will skip the preface for the book. Gould was quietly nervous about this aspect of his Darwin obsessiveness.
It is a mystery if ever there was one.Read more ›
Wallace is best known for coming up with the theory of evolution by natural selection independently from Darwin. He certainly deserves credit for this, but nobody should take seriously the ridiculous conspiracy theory which claims that Darwin stole the theory of natural selection from Wallace.
Wallace himself was always happy to play second fiddle to Darwin. For example, in 1908 Wallace made a speech to the Linnaean Society in which he explicitly defended Darwin's priority, pointing out that "...the idea occurred to Darwin in October 1838, nearly twenty years earlier than to myself (in February 1858); and that during the whole of that twenty years he had been laboriously collecting evidence..."
Darwin's notebooks from the 1830s and his essays of 1842 and 1844 show that Darwin had developed his theory long before he published "On the Origin of Species" and long before Wallace had his brainwave.
Wallace was an admirable character. He did not have the advantages of wealth that Darwin had; he was a socialist (of sorts) who had progressive views on many issues; and his attitude towards native peoples was unusually enlightened for an era when racism was rife.
Wallace also disagreed (later in his life, at least) with Darwin’s mistaken decision to allow into his evolutionary theory a subsidiary role for the Lamarckian idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Andrew Berry has brought together an excellent collection of the writings of Alfred Russel Wallace. The selection covers Wallace’s career as a widely-travelling professional... Read morePublished 16 months ago by P. Webster