Friday 3 September 2010

Life on Air by David Attenborough

Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster by David Attenborough

I grew up with David Attenborough's natural history shows - in my family every time there was a new one it was a big event where we would all gather in front of the TV to watch.  I loved animals as a child, and David Attenborough was a big part of the reason for that.  So I was excited to read his autobiography.

Score: 3/5

Synopsis: Memoirs of David Attenborough, who worked at the BBC for many years to produce/direct/present natural history television shows.

I enjoyed this book and it was very well written, making it hard to put down.  Quite simply, lots of interesting things have happened to him.  It was interesting to read about making friends with baby orangutans, meeting tribal people and handling horrible insects.  The book had a good structure, with chapters about his journeys/adventures alternated with chapters about broadcasting (David was once controller of BBC2).

It was also interesting to track the changing views towards animals and conservation/zoos.  When he was making his first shows in the 1950s, it was common that the aim was simply to capture as many animals as possible and bring them back to the studio without worrying too much about their well-being or the environment they were taking them from.   But as the book progressed, David became more and more interested in conservation and captivity.

As I was expecting, it wasn't really a personal biography.  Don't expect details about his love life or blazing arguments.  Normally that irritates me a little bit in a biography, but he had so many interesting things to write about that I didn't really notice until I had finished the book.

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