The indefatigable Attenborough (The First Eden: The Mediterranean World and Man, 1987, etc.), the driving force behind many nature documentaries, has written a book to accompany his forthcoming 10-part PBS series on the varied, complex, and fascinating world of birds, which will air in the spring of 1999. Attenborough is a lively writer, and his facile style is perfectly suited to presenting, with a minimum of complexity, a maximum of information. Ranging around the globe for his examples, Attenborough succinctly describes bird evolution, the mechanics of flight, patterns of adaptation to varied environments, courtship and nest-building behavior, and the rearing of young, among other topics. Whatever element of bird life he is describing, Attenborough’s emphasis throughout is on behavior, and it’s clear that he admires the abilities of birds to adapt to even the harshest climates. Experienced amateur ornithologists are unlikely to find anything new here, but the volume does offer a useful (and superbly illustrated) introduction to bird life for those with little background in the field.