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The British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace set out for the Amazon in 1848 to collect natural history specimens. During his time there, he spent almost two years travelling up the Rio Negro, a region few Europeans had explored. A fire on the return journey to England destroyed most of his collections but among the possessions rescued were sketches of fish, later presented to The Natural History Museum. This book is a fascinating account of Wallace's expedition describing the naturalist in the making, the tragic loss of his collections and how this affected his future. Throughout the book the role of chance in the making of naturalists and the course of science in general is explored. The work is richly illustrated with the fish sketches, palm drawings and scenes of life in the Amazon.