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Life of Mammals [Hardcover]

David Attenborough
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Oct 2002
A fascinating and complete insight into the group of animals to which we ourselves belong. David Attenborough introduces us to the most diverse group of animals ever to live on the Earth, from the smallest - the two-inch pygmy shrew, to the largest - the blue whale. The Life of Mammals is the story of 4,000 species which have outlived the dinosaurs and conquered the farthest places on earth.

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Life of Mammals + Life in the Undergrowth + Life In Cold Blood
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st edition (17 Oct 2002)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0563534230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563534235
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 25.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly six decades.

His first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at a London publishing house. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer, and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe, to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However, in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing, and has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998), The Blue Planet (2001), Life of Mammals (2002), Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008).

Sir David was knighted in 1985, is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and stands at the forefront of issues concerning the planet's declining species and conservation

Product Description

Amazon Review

There are over four and a half thousand different kinds of mammals alive today. How many can you name? Many will not be entirely clear about what it is that makes a mammal rather than a reptile or bird, apart from egg laying. But then what about egg-laying mammals such as the platypus and echidna? The Life of Mammals describes and illustrates the remarkable diversity of mammals from the giant blue whale to the miniscule pigmy shrew. The cachet of David Attenborough's name and distinctive voice comes through clearly from the text and there's a stunning selection of photographs, by the best wildlife photographers in the world. The Life of Mammals is worth getting even if you just like wildlife pictures, for there are many here that you will not have seen before--the Brazilian tapir, the hairy rhino of Sumatra, the Pyrenean desman and more.

Attenborough certainly has the knack of making good stories for the general reader out of what, in other hands, can be rather dry science. He manages to weave in a great deal about the evolutionary story behind the success of the mammals over the last 65 million years since the dinosaurs bit the dust. Also, because of all the careful research behind the TV programmes, he is pretty well up to speed on many of the scientific developments in our understanding of our biologically nearest if not necessarily dearest relatives. This is especially true when the story gets around to our closest primate cousins--the apes. All the recent discoveries about tool use and culture are included.

The Life of Mammals will make a perfect gift for anyone from the age of about 10 upwards and hopefully a whole new generation will know what a kinkajou, cacomistle or a uakiri are. The only quibble is there's no further-reading list to fuel new enthusiasms lit up by this excellent book. --Douglas Palmer.


"Heavily illustrated with beautiful photographs and enlivened by Attenborough's friendly, informative writing style, this is a terrific introduction to the wonders of our hairy, milk-producing relatives."--Booklist

"Attenborough brings a distinctive and zippy intelligence to everything he does. . . . [His] curiosity is boundless and infectious, and one is repeatedly reminded that once teeming and scheming humanity is left behind, the Earth can still be a magically amazing place."--Tom Shales, The Washington Post

"Vintage Attenbrough text is illustrated with more than 200 color photos to provide us with a beautiful and interesting window into the lives of these diverse and fascinating animals. An excellent addition to any family or natural history library."--Wildlife Activist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mammels 6 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the best of the authors series.It deals with animal behaviour rather than animal species although animals are used as descriptions of particular types of animal behaviour.
The well written text is divided into 10 finely researched chapters each with their own particular stories and examples.
The 10 chapters cover a)animal design-as relating to environment b)insect hunters c)chiselers -animals with chisel shaped front teeth d) plant eaters e)meat eaters f)opportunists-animals that eat anything g)return to the water- animals living on land or in the sea h) tree dwellers i) social climbers -e.g. monkeys and j)food for thought-how animals may evolve.
The pictures are excellent and only a few cover 2 pages destroying their impact.Sources of photographs are now well laid out and easily identified.
A book to be recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 13 Dec 2002
This is another excellent book based on one of David Attenborough's programmes. Even though it has a lot of pages ( around 300 ) every page is just as interesting as the previous. It's not just writing: there is a vast selection of colour photographs as well. Based on the tv series, although it does go into more depth and detail. It has around 10 chapters, one for each programme. If you have liked other books like this, then this one is a must.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a nostalgia thing 12 Jan 2003
By "hevra"
This book is the literature equivalent of tea and crumpets on a cold blustery dark winters night, snuggled in the front room fresh from the bath, awaiting wildlife programmes on the telly and dreading school the next morning. It's a pure nostalgia thing; the soothing tones of Attenborough lose nothing in print; some stunning photos and comfortable insights into the animal world. Buy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such great quality 26 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although I am a great fan of the amazon kindle,for some books you need a hard copy.
David Attenborough is so knowledgeable and very interesting.
The quality of photography is superb.
I will really treasure this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! 1 Oct 2013
By Yasmin
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's only recently that I started getting into this subject and it's great, these books are amazing.
Definitely would buy from the seller again too, came in no time and was really cheap. Win win :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great BOOk 28 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
bought for my grandson thank you a good price and service it arrived very quickly to be enjoyed for a long time
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3.0 out of 5 stars More of a television transcript than a book 20 Sep 2013
I haven't seen the television series on which this is based but I can imagine it - impressive scenes of animals taken all over the world, with David Attenborough's unmistakable earnest voiceover and cameos of him standing alongside some rare species in an isolated spot whispering to the audience so as not to scare the beast away.

It may be good television but it doesn't make good reading.

"The Life of Mammals" consists of 10 chapters which jump the millennia and species in its bid to justify its overambitious title and provide a comprehensive coverage of a vast subject.

Every page has color pictures of the particular creature mentioned on it but, in Attenborough's bid to cover everything, the book jumps all over the place.

Instead of a narrative, the reader gets fed tidbits of whatever creature Attenborough and his cameramen have happened to film.

It's not bad but definitely not a book to read straight through, as I did, and certainly of little value to the student or specialist.
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The logical premise of this book is to study mammals from the perspective of their diet and how this has led to the evolution of physical characteristics and social organization. Attenborough typically prompts the reader to view the natural world in a more holistic way, for example highlighting the social implications for mammals which have a diet based solely on leaves or the consequences of having to live in the open savannah.

What Attenborough excels at here and indeed in all of his 'Life of' works is in providing the brushstrokes to the tapestry of evolution, effortlessly highlighting apposite examples of creatures, in this case mammals, to showcase Darwin's landmark theory of natural selection. Memorable examples are the grotesque: red, blue, purple and orange facial adornments of the male mandrill, the common ancestry of shrews and bats, weasels and otters, elephants and manatees and whales and hippos.

Darwin's studies of evolution in the context of isolated, notably island communities is brilliantly echoed in the treatment of Lemurs on Madagascar, which in the absence of monkeys have evolved to fill every possible environmental niche. The loss of flight in birds such as the short-tailed bat in New Zealand due to a lack of land based predators and the differential evolution of the red colobus monkey in increasingly isolated pockets of forest in a drying Africa are similarly redolent of Darwin.
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