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A Life on Our Planet Reviews

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future

David Attenborough

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Ebury Press
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publication date: 1 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9781529108279

It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake - and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.' All we need is the will to do so.

1 Prize for A Life on Our Planet

The British Book Awards
2021 Shortlist: Non-Fiction Narrative Book of the Year

The judges for this category will have a tough time choosing between these books: a natural historian, a former president and a Second World War veteran are just some of the authors on this list. Weaving a string between all of these books is the remarkable stories they tell and the important topics they tackle, from racism to climate change to hopefulness.


3 stars out of 5
31 Oct 2020

"A ‘witness statement’ from a lifetime of travels — and an urgent call to action"

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The book lacks the searing images of the accompanying Netflix documentary — huge trees being sawn down; orang-utans clinging to lone trunks; and whales being harpooned into bloody chunks. But the printed page does showcase Attenborough’s unparalleled ability to boil down complex processes into grand sentences. “The living world is essentially solar-powered,” begins his chapter urging a shift to renewable energy. “We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature,” he laments. From there he glides through key concepts, such as the economist Kate Raworth’s “doughnut model” of planetary boundaries.

4 stars out of 5
Bryan Appleyard
27 Sep 2020

"a passionate valedictory"

Deforestation has to stop, notably the grim spectacle of rainforests being cleared to make way for cattle and oil palms. The ancient practice of silvopasture — animals grazing in woodland — should return and large predators should be reintroduced. The latter because of a phenomenon called the trophic cascade, in which top predators create a more stable ecosystem by altering the behaviour of creatures lower down the food chain. And so on.

Finally, even in Pripyat, there is hope. The town has been spectacularly rewilded, not by us, but by nature. It is covered in thick vegetation and there are populations of foxes, elk, deer, wild boar, bison, brown bear and racoon dogs. Not, of course, humans.

“We can yet make amends,” Attenborough says at the end of his troubled valedictory. That “yet” clearly signalling that, for him and the planet, time is short.

Read this book to learn, but also to honour the man. We shall never see his like again.