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Life in Cold Blood Hardcover – March 10, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691137188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691137186
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,028,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Careful observation and love of nature are the hallmarks of Sir David's work. Life in Cold Blood covers far more than snakes, being an investigation of all amphibians and reptiles, and it is the latest in a series of projects that have covered almost all life on earth. Sir David is now in his early eighties, and the arduous nature of his work suggests that this may well be the last of the great ventures into nature. In Life in Cold Blood, Sir David has left the best wine for last."--Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books

"Attenborough travels to the ends of the earth to tell the story of these creatures, raising awareness of the threats of environmental destruction along the way."--Scientific American

"Even a person normally immune to the charms of amphibians and reptiles will soon be drawn in by the fascinating color photographs of Life in Cold Blood, the latest book by broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough. The next thing you know, you're shoving the book under your friends' noses, insisting that they have a look."--Flora Taylor, American Scientist

"Life in Cold Blood adds to film naturalist and author Attenborough's rich legacy of fine books and documentaries providing vivid, concise accounts of life-forms. . . . The book offers a nice balance between large conceptual issues that define the world of ectothermic tetrapods and less well-known yet fascinating facts. Basic life history including diet, locomotion, reproductive habits, and geographical distribution are presented, with just the right amount of fossil record content tying it all together. This modest-sized, nicely bound book is generously illustrated with excellent color plates and includes explanations of the origins of numerous names and terms."--J.E. Platz, Choice

"The latest tour de force of naturalist and prolific author, David Attenborough, Life in Cold Blood takes us on a fascinating tour through the often bizarre and alien world of Tikaalik's amphibian and reptile descendants."--Explorers Journal

"Profusely illustrated and written in Sir David Attenborough's inimitable style--his writing is wonderfully effortless--this is the final book of four in a series on vertebrates by the respected 80-year-old naturalist. Experts might find much of the material here familiar, but generalists who are fascinated by the world around us will be captivated. I'll confess a weakness for books where you learn something new every page. With Attenborough you're likely to learn something new every paragraph."--Marc Horton, The Edmonton Journal

"Naturalist Attenborough uses his considerable talent to explain the world of reptiles and amphibians, the descendants of the first vertebrates of prehistoric life. He also warns of the threat of man-made environmental changes that threaten their existence. This volume includes 200 photos, some of them truly amazing."--Angelyn N. Hutchinson, Deseret Morning News

"[T]he accessibility and accuracy of the text, combined with its low price, make this an ideal choice for the amateur naturalist's introduction to the herpetological world."--Aaron M. Bauer, Quarterly Review of Biology

"This is nature writing at its best for the author is a natural born storyteller. . . . As a planning aid, this book offers a list of the best spots for seeing wildlife."--Connie Krochmal, BellaOnline

From the Inside Flap

"Admirably illustrated, this book completes David Attenborough's great exploration of the world's main animal groups. He shows us the lives of amphibians and reptiles in all the fascinating detail we have come to expect from him. A treasure trove for everyone--from the child seeing flying dragons or man-eating crocodiles for the first time to the professional zoologist realizing that there is still much to learn."--Philip Rainbow, Natural History Museum, London

"Quite delightful to read. There are many popular books on amphibians and reptiles, but most are aimed more at a younger audience or are intended as field guides, while others are primarily picture books with little or very poor text. Life in Cold Blood is a popular, well-illustrated book that introduces some scientific rigor. The scholarship is excellent. The illustrations are outstanding and are both informative and beautiful."--Kurt Schwenk, University of Connecticut


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 five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited.

Sir David's first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at the London publishing house Hodder & Stoughton. 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.

Over the last 25 years he 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), Life of Mammals (2002) and Life in the Undergrowth (2005). Sir David is a Trustee of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1985.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
The photography is gorgeous!
Terri
The "biggest of the hinged tortoises" (page 90) is definitely not Kinixys homeana, but Kinixys erosa, which grows to nearly twice the size of a Home's.
Balazs Farkas
I'm the type of person who loves learning, reading, watching documentaries, etc., and just *knowing* things.
Christina Boyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. G. Kuijpers on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as soon as it came out, as i am greatly interested in reptiles and in general like the books/films the BBC/Attenborough makes.

This book is for me dissapointing.

Why you are asking ?

The photos first of all, i always expect something new,beautiful or rare on the photos from somebody as Attenborough and the BBC, the photos are not. A lot of older,allready published photos and grade B photos,not the best of the best anyway.

The quality of the paper is dull and not glossy this makes it even worse for the photos to come to life and is something i am not used to for books in this price range (i bought it in the Netherlands for around 40 euros).

The text is general, heard it and seen it before....

Conclusion,the book is for someone that wants some general information about reptiles. But they can get that a lot better with other reptilian books on the market.
The photos do not stand out, so no point there for buying the book either.

A missed chance by the BBC and the Attenborough franchise, they could and should have done a lot better.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Mangham on March 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am in general agreement with the previous review, however, I would like to add that the book is not as technically accurate as one would normally expect from a BBC publication.

Throughout, the 'Strawberry Poison Dart Frog' is referred to by it's scientific name of 'Dendrobates Pumilo(sic)', this should actually be 'Dendrobates Pumilio', a basic error, possibly evidence of poor proof-reading, but as it is repeated so often, possibly not.

The chapter on lizards also refers to an 'American Anole'. By definition ALL Anolids are American, this being the only continent on which they are found. What is actually shown is a 'Cuban Brown Anole'.

Sloppy!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Balazs Farkas on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been involved in the Hungarian production of both the television series as well as the book to accompany it, and while the first is informative, entertaining and essentially correct in all respects, the second dealt with here is FULL of factual (and, of course, typographical) errors -- far too numerous to be mentioned one by one in a review aimed at a general public.
Just a few to make my point: the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is said to be "the biggest of all amphibians", but the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) surpasses it by about 40 cm (nearly 30 percent!), and the "young Japanese giant salamander" illustrated on page 15 is actually a mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)!
The olm (Proteus anguineus) does, indeed, occur in Italy (lower reaches of the Isonzo river), but has been recorded from nearly 200 localities, mostly situated in Slovenia. Rather unnaturally, the specimens shown on page 17 lay on their back.
The "one species (of caecilian) from south-east Asia (that) has a blue-black skin with a bright lemon-yellow stripe along its flanks" (page 27) is actually several: various Ichtyophis spp. have this coloration, as well as the South American Rhinatrema bivittatum.
The ranges of dendrobatid frogs shown on pages 62-63 are almost all wrong.
I know of no functional plastral hinge in any African tortoise (page 72; admittedly, the rear section of the plastron of old Testudo graeca is slightly mobile) -- it is the front lobe in Madagascan spider tortoises (Pyxis arachnoides) that really moves sometimes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Saty Satya-Murti on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Life in Cold Blood

My admiration for this book stems from a mix of my ignorance of taxonomy and my perspective as a neurologist. This explains my inability to comment on any of the misspellings and errors detected by some of the other reviewers. With every book I read on comparative anatomy or evolutionary physiology, my erstwhile enthusiasm, rigid and fixed, for the human nervous system relents. It admits graciously a greater pervasive wonder for life across the spectra of all animal forms. This is the promontory from which I approach this work.

This book of 281 pages and 6 chapters is aglow with vivid pictures of animal grandeur. Frogs, salamanders, lizards, iguanas, crocodiles, turtles or snakes greet you page after page. We learn about the anatomy, behavior and evolution of amphibians, reptiles and other cold-blooded animals. There are exquisite descriptions, whether it is of snakes calibrating their predatory strikes or of frogs producing internal anti-freeze to survive the arctic chill. Elaborate mating rituals of frogs and eating patterns of pythons would fascinate the reader.

It is likely that other books in this area have covered as much ground or even more. That possibility need not reduce the merit of this volume. The comparative biology that underpins this volume is a riveting reading experience in itself. There are numerous utterly captivating mechanisms that the cold blooded animals use to protect and evolve. They may suppress one lung, right or left, from fully developing, secrete, shoot or spit various venoms, protrude and circumduct their fangs, hibernate in extreme cold and even carry their own radiators and solar panels.
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