London: John Murray, 1864. Second edition. Original publisher's cloth binding with gilt to spine and front board. Gentle bumps to extremities and some bubbling of cloth under boards. Text block square. Hinges tender. Red coated endpapers. Collates xii, 466,[1, folding map], : complete including the publisher's adverts to rear. Inscribed by the publisher on the front endpaper: "To Mr. Payne with Mr. Murray's good wishes. Aug 1864." The present second edition is considered the most important of the book's reprints, as it was designed by Bates and his publisher Murray to make his scientific discoveries more accessible to the general public.
Documenting Bates' eleven year residence in the Amazon, this book contains his observations on both human societies and the natural world surrounding them. For Bates, wildlife and people reflect each other; and he creates fascinating comparisons between the behaviours of army ants and those of the Catholic processions and other sacred rites performed by riverside tribes. He is also fascinated by the knowledge of the natives and their ability to draw on the natural world for cures, and so he pays close attention to the tribes' hunting, eating, and medicinal practices. "On Bates' return to England, he was encouraged by Charles Darwin to write up his stay in the Amazon as a book. The result was widely admired, not least by Darwin; while some reviewers disagreed with the book's support for evolution, it was generally enjoyed due to his accounts of the journey, scenery, and people in addition to natural history" (Correspondence Project). In a contemporary review to the book, the famed ornithologist John Gould proclaimed of its richness, "Bates, I have read your book -- I have seen the Amazons." Very Good + (Item #2828)