For some 50 years, Paul Sochaczewski has been on the trail of famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and his little-known assistant Ali. The result of this quest is an imaginative “enhanced biography” of an illiterate 19th-century teenager from Borneo who helped Wallace become one of history’s most successful explorers of the natural world. This deliciously speculative book, filled with humour and touching scenes of imagined conversations, takes a hard look at "slippery truth", and, perhaps most important, asks the question: "Is there someone in your life who has quietly helped you, perhaps without adequate recognition, on your journey?"
In this innovative approach to biography, you’ll discover:
- New clues that expand our knowledge of Ali’s background and career
- Why writing the history of a 19th-century teenage boy from Borneo is so challenging
- Details about how Ali collected some 5,000 of Wallace’s 8,050 bird specimens
- Imagined conversations that explore emotions and perceptions of Wallace and Ali
- How each of us has an "Ali" who has helped us along the way
Bestselling author Paul Sochaczewski's highly acclaimed nonfiction books of personal travel include the five-volume Curious Encounters of the Human Kind series, An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, The Sultan and the Mermaid Queen, Soul of the Tiger (with Jeff McNeely), and Searching for Ganesha. Gary Braver, bestselling author of Tunnel Vision, said Paul's work is "in the great tradition of Asian reporting. The humanity of Somerset Maugham, the adventure of Joseph Conrad, the perception of Paul Theroux, and a self-effacing voice uniquely his own." Paul's handbook for people who want to write their personal stories, Share Your Journey, is based on the personal writing workshops he runs in more than 20 countries. Redheads and EarthLove are his eco-thrillers, set in the rainforest of a mythical sultanate in Borneo.
Paul is an American writer (born in Brooklyn, New York), writing coach, conservationist, and communications advisor to international non-governmental organizations. He lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and has lived and worked in more than 80 countries, including long stints in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Paul served in the United States Peace Corps from 1969 to 1971, working as an education advisor in Sarawak, Malaysia. This exposure to Asia informed his writing, and as a result, most of his work has a Southeast Asian theme. He was also the founding creative director of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Indonesia and Singapore.
As head of creative services at WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature, 1981-1994, he created international public awareness campaigns to protect rainforests, wetlands, plants, and biological diversity, and managed the WWF Faith and Environment Network. With a MacArthur Foundation grant, from mid-1992 to mid-1993 he took a leave of absence from WWF to research environmental problems in the Pacific for the Environment Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He then worked for ten years as global communications director of the International Osteoporosis Foundation.