In the autumn of 1870, Nikolai Miklouho Maclay, a young marine biologist, left his home in St Petersburg to travel to the remote territory of New Guinea. It was the start of an adventure that was to test his courage and determination and force him to examine the ideals that had inspired his quest for a people not yet spoiled by European civilisation. A beautifully told adventure story and a fascinating reconstruction of Maclay's own account of his efforts to survive, the book follows him from his home in Russia into the jungles of New Guinea and the sophisticated Vice-Regal circles of the Dutch East Indies -- a journey that would see him mistaken for a god and enshrined as a legend. Maclay's great courage and impetuous character inspired much of what has been written about his life and work. He was also a man of great personal charm and integrity, succeeding as well with Papuan warriors as he did with people of the highest rank in government and empire. In his choice of New Guinea as the primary area for his anthropological studies, Maclay was searching for nothing less than the 'probable cradle of the human race'.
While he did not subscribe to the theory of the 'noble savage', Maclay longed to discover, somewhere in the steamy jungles of this racially unique island, an innocence and purity long departed from the 'civilisation' of the Europeans. His hopes and dreams, his triumphs and failures make up this fictional account of Maclay's time in New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies.