This book fills an obvious gap in the literature of British natural history. Many years have passed since a work of any kind has been published on our amphibians and reptiles, and indeed no other book at all has been written that deals with every known aspect of their structure and behaviour.
Dr. Smith has been collecting his material for a third of a lifetime, during which he has become the acknowledged authority on the herpetology, not only of Britain but of Western Europe. His association with the British Museum and his years of expeditions and field observations make him a combination of ecological naturalist and museum man – and surely he is the best kind of naturalist who knows his way about the fields, woods and streams, as well as he knows his way about the intricacies of description, measurement and bibliography.
There are many signs now that the study of our islands’ rather neglected newts, frogs, toads, slow-worms, lizards and snakes is receiving ever-increasing attention among naturalists, both amateur and professional. We believe that this scholarly and interesting book will remain the standard work on the subject for a generation or more.
‘An excellent book. It is scholarly without ever being dull and pedantic; it gives complete life histories of every British species, with careful accounts of their structure and relationships.’ Observer
‘The fullest treatise of its subject which exists. It adds to the inheritance of the man who wants to know all that can be known of creatures living round about him. Dr. Malcolm Smith has given his country a book which will be the standard work for generations.’ Spectator
‘So authoritative that it deserves to remain the standard work for another century. This book will appeal to scientist and general reader alike.’ R. S. R. Fitter
“That Dr. Malcolm Smith is a master of his subject is clear from the beginning. This book is obviously written by one who knows his subject fully, can embellish his text with a wealth of interesting as well as essential information and can all along draw upon personal experience. In other words, it is a very good book.” Illustrated London News