If I were heading for the Amazon and had room in my tropical kit for just one book, my choice would unquestionably be this book. A hundred and fifty years after its first appearance, this book still remains the basic text, one of the monuments of scientific travel writing, and a celebration of the world's ultimate wilderness in its virgin splendor.
Bates spent 11 years in Amazonia, and spent most of that time lost in wonder, astonished by a diversity he never imagined possible. The charm, and the genius, of this book is that Bates did not restrict himself to cataloguing the natural history; whereas now everybody has a speciality, Bates observed and was interested in everything. As a result, in these pages not only do we meet the most varied assemblage of life on earth--we also meet the various racial and cultural mixtures of Amazonia. Reading Bates is an emotional experience for someone who has traveled in Amazonia, because much of what he describes so poignantly is no longer there.