Suggested Reading List

In our many years of plying the waters of Indonesia SeaTrek has become well acquainted with a number of books, publications, articles and videos regarding the history and wonders of the archipelago, that we know will be of extreme interest to our guests. The following is a list we believe one will find interesting, educational and entertaining reading for pleasure or in preparation for a SeaTrek cruise. We have categorised each to ease a selection of your interest.

Bird of Paradise
– Tim Laman & Edwin Scholes
“You’ll initially find it hard to believe that these pictures are real—but they are. These are the most beautiful photographs of the world’s most beautiful birds. The birds’ behaviour, richly described in the text, is as remarkable as their appearance. This is a book like no other book.” –Jared Diamond, ornithologist and author of Guns, Germs, and Steel.
“Eight years. Eighteen expeditions. Fifty-one field sites. Thirty-nine unique species of birds-of-paradise, all photographed in the wild for the first time in history. We turned our passion for science, photography, and media documentation into a comprehensive vision to share an unparalleled treasure of Earth’s biodiversity with the world,” write biologists and explorers Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes.
“These treasures are the spectacular birds-of-paradise, native only to the remote New Guinea region but known the world around for their brilliant colours, otherworldly plumes, and elaborate courtship dances. Now, for the first and perhaps only time, all 39 species of these extraordinary birds are showcased together through the revealing words and exclusive photographs in this landmark book.”
Archipelago – From the Nineteenth-Century Discoveries of Alfred Russel Wallace to the Fate of Forests and Reefs in the Twenty-First Century
– Gavan Daws, M. Fujita, Marty Fujita
“The Indonesian archipelago is a land of timeless natural beauty that in the twenty-first century faces unprecedented environmental degradation. It was also the biological laboratory of Alfred Russel Wallace, who, working independently of Charles Darwin, discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection.Wallace, who travelled for eight years in the archipelago, was one of the greatest field naturalists and nature writers of his century. No one was more skilled in observing and describing living things. A prodigious collector, he was the first to bring living birds of paradise to the West. And he was a great thinker, a theorist as formidable as any on earth. This magnificent account of a true explorer sweeps from the time of Wallace’s nineteenth-century discoveries in biogeography to the looming biodiversity crisis of the twenty-first century—from the exploration of natural wonders to the exploitation of natural resources. The result is a history that powerfully portrays the intricate connections of human life and natural life. This unique story, published by the University of California Press in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, is resplendently presented with maps, archival materials, and more than 200 colour photographs”
Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life
– Peter Raby
“This biography of Wallace traces the development of one of the most remarkable scientific travellers, naturalists, and thinkers of the nineteenth century. Wallace is seen as a courageous, unconventional explorer and a man of exceptional humanity and offers a revealing yet balanced account of the relationship between Wallace and Darwin.”
A great pictorial and narrative of Indonesia. The Indonesian archipelago is a land of timeless natural beauty that was also the biological laboratory of Alfred Russel Wallace, who traveled for eight years in the archipelago, and was one of the greatest field naturalists and nature writers of his century.
– Lawrence Blair
Ring of Fire charts the Blair brothers’ 10-year journey through the world’s largest and least-known archipelago–the islands of Indonesia. With extraordinary courage, humour, and passion for the unknown, they draw us into their extraordinary journey to a magical land where ancient myths still flourish.
– Jared Diamond
The progression of ancient human society – 11,000 BC and forward; much content about Indonesia. Guns, Germs, and Steel answers the question of why the peoples of certain continents succeeded in invading other continents and conquering or displacing their peoples. It encompasses the rise of agriculture, technology, writing, government, and religion, providing a unifying theory of human history as intriguing as the histories of dinosaurs and glaciers.
Periplus Maluku Guide Book
Lots of nice photos, background information and good descriptions of the major tourist areas of Ambon, Lease, Ternate and Banda. Out of print and hard to find, it is still extremely informative about the region.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Indonesia
“From the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern edge of Papua, Indonesia offers endless exploration and infinite diversity. This unique land may well be the last great adventure on Earth.”—Ryan VerBerkmoes, Lonely Planet Writer
Borobudur – Golden Tales of the Buddhas
– John Miksic
A coffee table book about the history of Borobudur by one of the world’s leading experts on Southeast Asian history and culture. An excellent book that summarises Borobudur’s past and archaeological symbolism, and a light and informative read of the ancient Buddhist monument in Central Java.
THE RAJA AMPAT through the lens of:
– Tim Laman
This book is illustrated with a collection of the very best photographs taken by some of the world’s top photographers depicting the Realm of the Four Kings in spectacular colour, both above and below the water. Take a colour-saturated journey through the pages of this book, and experience the Raja Ampat through the lenses of these 17 top artists.
– Stewart Gordon
A unique look at early Asian adventure travellers/ merchants from AD 700 to 1500, an exciting period when Asia flourished as the wellspring of science, philosophy, and religion from Arabia to China.
– Louise Levathes
A view inside China’s most illustrious scientific and technological era, when during the brief period from 1405 to 1433, seven epic expeditions brought China’s “treasure ships” across the China Sea and the Indian Ocean, from Taiwan to the spice islands of Indonesia and the Malabar coast of India, on to the rich ports of the Persian Gulf and down the African coast.
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula (Editions Didier Millet)
– Paul Michel Munoz
A readable, though academic, account of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya and maritime trade, written by a former French marine engineer. This book gets to the heart of Southeast Asian history from the perspective of an Asian, during the early history (from A.D.1through to the 16th century) of this region in its proper context, before Eurocentric views were imposed.
The Sinbad Voyage
– Tim Severin
Colourful account of the author’s voyage from Oman to China, in a traditional Arab dhow, retracing the maritime silk route that first linked Asia and the West, which includes descriptions of the Malabar Coast, being stuck in the Indian Ocean, and sailing the Straits of Malacca.
The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Ta’Ang Exotics
– EW Schafer
A beautifully written book about the Ta’ng Dynasty’s trade and cultural contacts with Central Asia and beyond. This book examines the exotics imported into China (A.D. 618-907), and depicts their influence on Chinese life.
– John G Wilson
Wallace is often depicted as a man of two parts: a logical scientist and a radical dreamer. Wallace’s personality characteristics made him the man he was – intellectually curious, resilient, persistent, self-reliant and he had incurable optimism’ coupled with obstinacy, ruthlessness, self-absorption, and obsessiveness. A perfect combination for a naturalist combing the islands of Indonesia in the 1800s.
– Jack Turner
How spice emerged, evolved and failed. An exploration of the centuries-old desire for spice in food, in medicine, in magic, in religion, and in sex—and of the allure of forbidden fruit lingering in the scents of cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and cloves.
– Giles Milton
Graphic history of the scourge of the spice islands. The book deals with the competition between England and Holland for possession of the spice-producing islands of Southeast Asia throughout the 17th century. Milton’s book tells an absorbing story of perilous voyages, greed and political machinations in the Age of Exploration.
– John Keay
A delightful and thoroughly readable account, The Spice Route spans three millennia and circles the world to chronicle the history of the spice trade. This saga, progressing from the voyages of the ancients to the blue-water trade that came to prevail by the seventeenth century, transports us from the dawn of history to the ends of the earth.
– Tim Severin
An armchair voyage through the Indonesian archipelago following the journeys of Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). The book is a rewarding mix of historical biography, contemporary adventure travel, relating experiences sailing the archipelago in an indigenous prahu.
– Ian Burnet
Spice history, romance and adventure over 2,000 years, this book follows the growth of the Dutch and English East India Companies, and finishes with their demise and the once splendid sultanates sinking into obscurity.
– R. Charles Anderson
A colourful introduction to an astounding array of marine life, the guide includes more than 250 magnificent colour photographs that explore the underwater world of the Indonesian archipelago and a comprehensive marine life section that will help readers identify each particular species and its habitat.
– Burt Jones & Maurine Shimlock
Diving and snorkelling the planet’s most bio-diverse reef, the Bird’s Head Seascape, home to more than 1,600 fish species and three-fourths of the world’s known corals, this book offersdetailed information on endemic marine life, the region’s cultures, suggestions for land adventures and travel tips, making it a great guide for travelling to the Raja Ampat region.
– Gerry Allen
An illustrated guide to the wealth of fish in the waters of Southeast Asia and an invaluable reference for snorkellers and divers in the identification of the many and varied species.
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia: Second Edition
– Morton Strange
The very best and most comprehensive photographic guide to the birds of Indonesia, this book covers a total of 912 species, including most of the non-migratory and endemic species seen only in Indonesia. A photograph and distribution map is given for each bird.
Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide
– Gerald R. Allen; Roger Steene
This book identifies over 1,800 marine plants, invertebrates, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals of the Central and Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
– Alfred Russel Wallace
Wallace, a British biologist and explorer, is deeply associated with Indonesia and was a contemporary of Darwin who developed his own theory of evolution in parallel. Wallace spent eight years in the region, covering 14,000 square miles in his expeditions. Considered one of the 19th century’s greatest scientific minds and great explorers, this classic details his journeys and intellectual endeavours.

Made in ChinaSimon Worrall
Feature article on a Tang dynasty shipwreck, published in National Geographic Magazine (

Podcast on Borobudur
Part of the superb “History of The World in 100 Objects” Series, this brings the meaning of Borobudur to life through the carved head of a Buddha.

Welcome to Duyfken 1606 Replica Ship
Interesting website illustrating a sailing ship of the period and items of interest under “Original”, “Building the Replica” and “Voyages”

Trade History of the Silk Road, Spice & Incense Routes
A brief, concise and informative account describing the magnitude of the ancient commerce in Frankincense from Arabia, silks from China, spices of Southeast Asia.