Book re­views

Chang­ing the way we view the nat­u­ral world

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

Ad­ven­tures of a Young Nat­u­ral­ist: The Zoo Quest Ex­pe­di­tions By David At­ten­bor­ough Two Roads £25

‘My plan was sim­ple,’ writes Sir David At­ten­bor­ough of the ini­tial con­cept for Zoo Quest, his first nat­u­ral his­tory tele­vi­sion pro­gramme. The plan in­volved film­ing ex­pe­di­tions to bio­di­ver­sity hotspots and bring­ing back an­i­mals that would make a studio ap­pear­ance be­fore start­ing a new life at London Zoo. At that point, the plan did not in­volve a 63-and-count­ing-year ca­reer de­vis­ing and pre­sent­ing cut­ting-edge doc­u­men­taries, but the stun­ning fact is that if you re­mem­ber a time when Sir David wasn’t bring­ing na­ture to the small screen, you prob­a­bly also re­mem­ber Ge­orge VI on the throne. The mem­oirs in this new com­pi­la­tion spring from the page as fresh as the day they were writ­ten, full of trade­mark wit and ad­ven­tur­ous spirit. His light touch makes this a book for ev­ery­one – I loved it, and my six-year-old lis­tened to ex­cerpts with avid at­ten­tion.

Amy-Jane Beer Nat­u­ral­ist and writer

Blow­fish’s Oceanope­dia By Tom Hird At­lantic Books £17.99

This book’s cover prom­ises ‘291 ex­tra­or­di­nary things you didn’t know about the sea’. And it de­liv­ers – I was un­aware that male lob­sters pee on each other to set­tle ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes or that her­ring com­mu­ni­cate by fart­ing. But it’s much more than just a col­lec­tion of pub quiz facts. The text is packed with proper sci­ence, brought alive by marine bi­ol­o­gist, Tom ‘the Blow­fish’ Hird’s en­ter­tain­ingly blokey turn of phrase. What other en­cy­clopae­dia would de­scribe the lam­prey as “the toi­let plunger from hell”? Pete Dom­mett Na­ture writer

En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Whales, Dol­phins and Por­poises By Erich Hoyt Fire­fly Books £30

This lat­est book by renowned cetacean re­searcher Erich Hoyt en­ters a crowded mar­ket­place. Is there room for another? The an­swer is an em­phatic yes, as this com­pre­hen­sive treat­ment of the world’s cetaceans is de­tailed, in­for­ma­tive, and well-il­lus­trated – with a host of ex­cel­lent pho­to­graphs and ac­cu­rate il­lus­tra­tions in the species ac­counts. I’d have liked to see the lat­ter sup­ple­mented with sur­face pro­files to help prac­ti­cal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, but that’s a mi­nor quib­ble. Jon Dunn Author and wildlife guide

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