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One of the most impressive of all Victorian scientists but also a marvellous writer, Bates' (1825-1892) account of his years in the upper reaches of the Amazon is almost too good to be true - a great monument to human inquisitiveness as he battles great hoards of malevolent reptiles and insects in his quest for ever more obscure specimens on ever more narrow and creeper-choked tributaries. Great Journeys allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries – but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: Great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.