Life on Earth by David Attenborough review – a reissued classic

The classic TV series and book influenced a generation. Its welcome reissue and update reveals how scientific knowledge has moved on

Somewhere in my parents’ photo albums there is a picture of me, aged seven or eight, lying in my bed, reading. On the wall, there are postcards from holidays, a poster of space pirate Han Solo crouching above a fictional snow lizard called a Tauntaun, and a picture of an equally alien but very real cephalopod, a nautilus, a mollusc with a pin-hole eye and tentacular cirri projecting from its tiger-striped shell. It was cut out from the second copy of Life on Earth that my father had acquired, the book that accompanied the BBC series by David Attenborough. The first was for reading, the second, bought cheap without a dust cover, was for the photos.

It’s difficult for me to appraise the work of Attenborough critically. I do ...