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Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behaviour Hardcover – March 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


(Alaska Airlines Mag / Horizontal Air Mag 2010-06-01)

“Even the most casual reader will be awed by the beauty, complexity, and ingenuity of nature as celebrated here.” STARRED REVIEW
(Library Journal 2010-05-14)

“If you are looking for a wonderful gift for the animal lover on your list, this book is it.”
(San Francisco Book Review 2010-06-30)

“A volume over which a reader can linger with pleasure.”
(Richmond Times-Dispatch 2010-11-21)

“Enjoyable and educational.”
(Wildlife Activist 2011-06-20)

“A highly informative and compelling standalone volume in its own right . . . an excellent addition to anyone’s library.”
(John P. Roche Qtly Review Of Biology 2012-03-01)

“In 60 concise and captivating vignettes . . . the authors provide the most up-to-date science.”
(Living The Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) 2010-07-09)

About the Author

Martha Holmes, producer for the BBC television production of Life, completed her doctorate in marine biology at the University of York. Michael Gunton, executive editor of Life, is a zoologist who received his training at Cambridge University.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520265378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520265370
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Houston on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Life: Extraordinary Animals, Extreme Behavior is one of only a handful of coffee-table books that I have ever enjoyed. I have found few books that strike the right balance between quality photographs and readability; Life does that beautifully.

As anyone who has seen the BBC documentary Life (narrated by David Attenborough) [Blu-ray] can attest, the imagery is stunning, and that holds true in the book. Featuring a mix of shots, from "portraits" to action to landscape, they are all amazing. In addition, the print quality is excellent, unlike some other books I've seen.

The book is divided into chapters along the same lines as the DVD. In my opinion, it is the narrative that sets Life apart from other similar books. Incredibly informative, it balances on that delicate line between too simple and overwhelming. Each chapter begins with smaller photos and a few pages of information, often a summary of the narrative from the film, (the version narrated by David Attenborough, not Oprah). Each of the larger photos in the chapter are then accompanied by a short paragraph explaining the who, what, where, and why. Finally, the index is particularly useful in finding specific photos because the organization is based more on behavior than animal type.

Anyone interested in nature, animals, or photography will enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`Life' is the companion book to the BBC series of the same name and like the series it has amazing images and outstanding facts that will leave you amazed at the diversity and splendour of nature. Covering the same ground as the series this book is broken into various chapters focusing on various animals and habitats. These chapters are Introduction, Location Map, Extraordinary Sea Creatures, Fabulous Fish, Irrepressible Plants, Insect Ingenuity, Frogs, Serpents and Dragons, Brilliant Birds, Winning Mammals, Hot Blooded Hunters and Intellectual Primates. The photography is simply breath taking and make this worth the purchase price alone, before you factor in the informative and clear writing. The BBC makes exceptional nature documentaries and this was no exception and if you were a fan of the series then I can heartily recommend this book and if you have an interest in natural history and haven't yet seen the show then this would still make wonderful reading. Due to it's large hardback format this would make a great coffee table book, but to be honest you could just as easily enjoy this from cover to cover or dip in and out of it as the mood takes you. I can see this being a book I will come back to at various times in the future and will enjoy flicking through the images within it's pages. Stunning and fascinating, what more could you want?

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NCstat on August 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The number of stars I give the book, depends on how I view its purpose. As a coffeetable book, it is lovely. Beautiful photos abound and a wide diversity of life is covered - including plants, insects, sea life, amphibians, reptiles, birds and various chapters on mammels. Many are of unusual animals most people will not be familiar with. With each is a short (generally 2-3 page) essay providing more information about the interesting animal (or plant). Some are fascinating. Everyone who has looked at it has enjoyed the photos, no matter their age. The text, however, is definetely aimed at adults.

I like to read books cover-to-cover, and for this purpose I would probably give it 3 stars (admittedly many people probably wouldn't buy the book with this objective). For one thing, because it's topic is 'life', a rather broad topic by any stretch (or as it is more covered in this book 'life that has unusual approaches to procreation or fighting/survival') it can't cover anything in depth and each essay is really more a stand-alone piece loosely connected together rather than a single narrative. Also, and this might not sound like a big deal, but if you plan to read it for any length of time believe me it is, the book is very large and very heavy with small font. That makes for fantastic photos as I mentioned above, but there was just no comfortable way to read it for any length of time. The best I was able to come up with was having it on a table and sitting at a desk like a student. Not my favorite way to read for enjoyment!

So, I recommend the book with the caveat that I recommend it to be enjoyed over the long term. Look at the pictures. Read an interesting essay or two and come back to it periodically rather than read through it like a novel.
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