This book is about the biology and situation of the Amazon rainforest. It is illustrated by the 250 black and white photos taken by Ghillean Prance during the course of his many expeditions to the Amazon region. The text is mainly taken from the writings of the three Victorian naturalists Henry Bates, Richard Spruce and Alfred Rusell Wallace. Many of the things they described about the forest and its indigenous peoples are illustrated. Some additions on the biology of various interesting plants from the research of the author are also included. While much of the book is about the biology and ethnology of the people the main message is to demonstrate the current destruction of both the forest and the native people, with the hope that this can be halted quickly. It ends with some quotes with pleas for action from some of the most affected indigenous people.
Professor Sir Ghillean Prance was educated at the University of Oxford, BA in Botany (1960) M.A., D.Phil. (1963); He worked for The New York Botanical Garden from 1963 to 1988 as BA Krukoff Curator of Amazonian Botany, Director and Vice-President of Research (1976-1982), Senior Vice President for Science (1982-1988). During that time he made 39 expeditions to Amazonia, and collected over 30,000 plant specimens including 350 new species. He also published many ethnobotanical papers about the uses of plants by indigenous peoples. He was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1988 -1999; and then McBryde Professor, National Tropical Botanical Garden Hawaii 2001-02. He is a Visiting Professor at Reading University, and the author of 26 books and more than 600 scientific and general papers in taxonomy, ethnobotany, economic botany, conservation and ecology. His honours include 15 honorary doctorates; the International COSMOS Prize 1993; Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS); Knight Bachelor, 1995; Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) of Royal Horticultural Society, 1999; David Fairchild Medal for plant exploration, 2000; Allerton Award in 2005; Commander of the Order of the Southern Cross Brazil, 2000; and Order of the Rising Sun from Japan, 2012.