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Life in the Undergrowth Hardcover – 10 Oct 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st edition edition (10 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563522089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563522089
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 2.6 x 25.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,469 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

Review

"With its superb synthesis of the majority of living species, Life in the Undergrowth is a high point in David Attenborough's career, but it is also an elegant restatement of something he has spent a lifetime trying to teach: we are simply one species among a multitude, all of which are worthy of our interest and respect." (Tim Flannery New York Review of Books)

"A companion to a new television program on Animal Planet, this wonderful exploration of invertebrates exceeds the requirements for a great nature book through the strength of its photographs and the quality of its prose." (Publisher's Weekly)

"Attenborough is at it again, exploring the natural world with his team of cinematographers and clearly explaining what they've found to a lay audience... The text is always lively." (Booklist)

"The stories told in this book are astonishing, and Attenborough knows just what wonder buttons to push... This is a beautifully written book--a worthwhile addition to any family library and a fitting companion for anyone's lap while watching Life in the the Undergrowth." (Biology Digest)

"Well-known naturalist Attenborough has written this book in a most engaging manner. Illustrated with stunning photographs, it serves both to inspire and inform." (Choice)

From the Back Cover

"In Life in the Undergrowth, Sir David Attenborough again makes the difficult seem effortless--he delivers with characteristic grace and informality intimate details of the lives of creatures that often pass without notice, and yet on whom the functioning of this biological planet rests. I believe this to be the very best in his series--the sense of breathless wonder in his subject is palpable--and it joins the classic collections of nature essays by E. O. Wilson, Thomas Eisner, and Rachel Carson."--Brian D. Farrell, Professor of Biology and Curator in Entomology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 2 Dec. 2005
Format: Hardcover
The book to accompany Attenborough's exploration of the tiny world of the insects. An excellent, well packaged, highly informative and profusely illustrated little tome, this is great value and an exciting and stimulating introduction to the subject. The material presented is accessible - you will not be baffled by academic or scientific jargon - and, far from being simply a reference book, this is a very readable volume. It will stimulate your interest in the subject.
However, this is not the television series - the photographs are excellent, the writing clear, but the book cannot capture the excitement and wonder which the moving image achieves. BBC television has an extraordinary record in presenting wildlife programmes, and the filming of this series is of the highest quality. The book, therefore, is a little disappointing purely and simply because it cannot offer the momentum and dynamic of the moving image and 'live' sound.
I comment on the difference between book and programme not as a criticism, but as a warning - I have often heard people complain that a book didn't live up to the series. They're different animals. If you don't get the same sense of immediacy and presence from the book, what you do get is a lasting sense of wonder. Books like this inspire people to look further into the subject. You will find yourself reading this and stopping to watch insects differently. Beware - there are pictures of spiders; while these are misunderstood little creatures, they do scare the …. out of many people, so be wary who you sit next to when reading it. Of course, if you have a malicious sense of humour, I recommend leaving the book open at page … .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sailingslipelick on 16 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was very good, since it gave a very general aspect of many insects, in their own habitat. The pictures are of very high quality and there is some material in the book which is not available in the DVD. Of course there are some things which are only shown in the DVD, such as the area where it shows the development of a bumblebee nest.

I do think that it is probably his best book so far out of all his nature books. I would recommend this book to everyone who is starting to study nature.
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Format: Hardcover
The remit of this cogently written and photographically pleasing book is to provide the reader with an overview of how invertebrate life forms left the sea, initially invading the land and subsequently taking to the air. In this respect Attenborough's narrative is a triumph, logical, well paced and peppered with expertly chosen, often amazing examples of life from the world of insects, bugs, arachnids, beetles and crustaceans.

What Attenborough excels at, is taking dry biological concepts such as evolution, symbiosis and parasitism and embellishing them with real world examples which always serve to reinforce in the reader a sense of awe and wonder in the sheer diversity of life on our planet. Here the concept of symbiosis is brilliantly portrayed in the mutually beneficial relationship between Azteca ants and Cordia trees and Acacia ants and Acacia trees. The process of evolution is tellingly brought to life in the description of Liphistius, a primitive spider and the possible origins of sociability in wasps.

There is much here to inform and delight readers of all experiences. I was instructed of the difference between a centipede and a millipede and a honey bee and a bumble bee for instance. It's hard not to be reminded of ourselves when reading of the 'super societies' of magnetic termites and ants, with their populations of millions, castes, divisions of labour and functional architecture and horticulture. The self sufficiency and invulnerability of such ant populations provide us with a chilling reminder that although we depend on insects to pollinate our crops and biodegrade our waste - they do not need and could easily supersede us.
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By G.I.Forbes on 12 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the authors better books mainly due to the improved photography which is quite outstanding in some areas. It is not fair to compare it to the TV series as the book serves a completely different audience.
This is a book of creepy-crawlies-water,land and air based. The sections deal with a)the invasion of the land by insects,b)the first insects to fly, c)the silk spinners d)the relationship between insects,plants and animals and e)supersocities eg. ants and bees.All sections are well written and there is an excellent diagram on pages 277-8 that explains the relationships of invertebrates.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Wilkinson on 8 Dec. 2005
Format: Hardcover
I cant help thinking cynically after reading the book that its a bit of a con, making you buy the book as the series is so good but the book is not closely related enough to the series, the chapters are the same and it features many of the same anecdotes of invertebrate behaviour but the pictures were not taken as part of the filming of the show, if only they were! They are stock photos and while some are of a very high standard (one page showing 4 photos of a dragonfly emerging from his chrysalis) some are not so impressive which is not something you really expect from a book accompanying a david attenborough series.
The dvd is worth owning but the book is not.
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