Alfred Russel Wallace’s 1886–1887 Travel Diary: The North American Lecture Tour
by Charles H. Smith and Megan Derr (editors); Preface by Michael Shermer
Siri Scientific Press (2013) 978-0-9567795-8-8 RRP £21.00
272 pp, 240 x 165 mm, soft cover, 93 black and white figures
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BioScience (June 2013): For those who consider themselves Wallace aficionados, this book is essential; it is authoritative and trustworthy, and it describes a little known part of the Wallace story.
British Journal for the History of Science (2013): Wallace’s diverse interests produce a work with a broad scope of content. Furthermore, its accessibility, thanks to the additions by the editors, means that this should earn its way onto a number of institutional and individual bookshelves and be read by a number of social, political and cultural historians as well as historians of science.From the back cover
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) is best known as the man who sent an essay on natural selection to Charles Darwin in 1858, prompting the older naturalist to drop plans for his multi-volume work on the subject and produce a shortened version – On the Origin of Species – only a little over a year later. Wallace, however, additionally had a long and expansive career extending to many natural and social science fields (and, it should be noted, he was one of his era’s most vocal supporters of spiritualism). Among his other associations he is remembered as one of history’s foremost naturalist-explorers for his twelve years of collecting activities in South America and the East Indies circa 1848 to 1852 and 1854 to 1862, but in the present volume the last of his wanderings is detailed: a transcontinental ten-month lecture tour to North America in 1886–1887. Wallace kept a journal for the entire length of his trip which is filled both with natural history observations, and impressions of the people he met along the way (including many of the most famous Americans from that period). Here, this journal is fully transcribed and annotated; also presented are some of his published writings from this period.
Charles H. Smith has been studying Wallace’s work for thirty years and has several other books on him to his credit; he also maintains the research website The Alfred Russel Wallace Page at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, where he is Science Librarian and Professor of Library Public Services. Megan Derr has degrees in Broadcasting and Computer Science from the same institution, and is currently employed as a junior developer at Emergint Technologies in Louisville, Kentucky.
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