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The Wallace Line
on September 29, 2012
This is a very good, very long and detailed book. About halfway through the book appears the only thing that most people remember about Wallace -- the Darwin crisis. But there is lots more to go. What a life. It is a good introduction to all sorts of Victorian concerns that I had heard about but never assimilated (the Land Question, for a start). The book is very detailed on Wallace's journeys (though we could have done with some new maps (there are pictures of ones he made). It would be a good thing to read this book in conjunction, at the very least, with Daws and Fujita's recent (and fabulous) Archipelago, about the Islands of Indonesia, which is mostly about Wallace).
The author is interestingly judicious. Many pages are given over to the spiritualist cult and the debunking of it, but the author never steps in personally to say that it is all bunk or all true. He just lays out the story.