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René Léon Bourret (1884-1957) was a French geologist who arrived in Hanoi in 1900 and switched to the study of vertebrates in the late 1920s. He published extensively on the subject, including numerous new taxa and comprehensive books. Bourret authored three books on Indochinese herpetology – snakes 1936, turtles 1941, and amphibians 1942; the lizard volume was completed in 1947 but was never published. This left a glaring gap in our historical knowledge of the herpetology of Indochina. That Bourret's completed manuscript existed has been generally known for many years, but the impetus to publish it has been realised only recently. The plan to do so actually began more than 20 years ago.
This effort has not been an easy one. The taxonomy and systematics have changed dramatically, many geographical localities have undergone renaming, and Bourret's manuscript also had many irregularities and omissions that had to be resolved. Roger Bour has meticulously and admirably accomplished this task. With publication of Bourret's book on Indochinese Lizards, after lying dormant in manuscript for more than 60 years, his herpetological publications on the region are complete. He can now be fully recognised among the great authorities of Indochinese herpetology. And with this first full-length biography of Bourret, whose life was previously hidden in obscurity, we can appreciate the actual depth and scope of his work.