on 24 August 2016
Volume two of David Attenborough's Life Stories made once again for a delightful read. It's similar (if not identical, actually) in structure to its predecessor though the content is as varied as before. Having said that, there is a lot of overlap between the anecdotes in 'New Life Stories' and his autobiography once again - but when they are as entertaining as they are, it's not an awful lot to complain about. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on his experience with a Kiwi whilst filming in New Zealand, the story of Charnia (having recently watched his 2010 documentary 'First Life' where it gets an extensive introduction) and, of course, the poignant conclusion on Elsa the Lioness. He draws parallels between the famed 'freedom' of the animal and the violence in its wake; Elsa was only caught and hand-reared after her Mother had been shot by George Adamson. In no way negating the 'Born Free' legacy, but the foundations on which it is built are perhaps more insidious than made out.
An especially satisfying aspect of the book - particularly for devout Attenborough fans who pay attention to the development of his work - was the chapter on Fireflies towards the end. He touches upon various different species and their behaviours, as well as the science behind bioluminescence, and his passion for the phenomenon is all too clear. It's nice then, in retrospect, to see that passion carried over onto his 2016 program: 'Attenborough's Life That Glows'. There's a 5 year gap between it and this book astonishingly, but it's satisfying to have seen it come to fruition.
Lastly.. Is it too much to hope for third instalment to this 'Life Stories' series? Though the meticulous detail captured in the updated autobiography is extraordinary, there's something quite charming about individual chapters focussed solely on one subject, aided with handpicked illustrations/paintings and the like. Here's hoping, eh?
on 4 March 2015
This is the second volume of the authors life stories published in 2011 to accompany the BBC radio 4 five minute broadcasts which took place over five months.
The text is that used in the broadcasts but is enhanced by first class pictures (however,the book should have been printed on glossy paper not matt.
The author deals with 20 unusual life stories including the kiwi,earthworms,rats,butterflies,chimps and other
Well written and researched -a first class book..
on 16 January 2012
Attenborough's second volume of natural history vignettes does not disappoint.This is an eclectic collection with references to the explorations of Columbus,the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers and to such diverse subjects as the Loch Ness Monster and Aztec mythology.
Each is told with his relaxed but cogent manner and the reader is left feeling as if they have just had an after dinner conversation with the author in front of the warm glow of a fire on a cold winter's night.What makes Attenborough's style so engaging is his ability to mix references from the greats - Darwin, Wallace, Bewick and Audibon with his own personal experiences which he recalls with a childlike relish and excitement.He relates many amusing anecdotes of his travels, notably of a chameleon car minder in Madagascar and of 'Rommel' his own boyhood pet chameleon.
Highlights of this collection are undoubtedly the incredible life cycle of the cicada,the interdependence of living things,typified by the symbiotic relationship between the ratel and honeyguide and the intertwining of human and animal lives detailed in 'Chimps', 'Cicadas' and 'Elsa'.The reader is also entranced by the bizarre kiwi and outraged by the mendacious cuckoo.
Perhaps Attenborough's boyish curiosity and spirit of adventure is best typified by his hope that Gigantopithecus (Abominable Snowman)does exist- thus preserving the myth of monsters a little longer in the 21st Century.