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His father was Harold Shukman, a Russian scholar at St Antony's College, Oxford, and his mother was also a Russian scholar of writers such as Alexander Men (a Russian theologian). He has a younger brother and sister. He attended the Dragon School in Oxford, Eton College, then read Geography at Durham University (Hatfield College), gaining a BA.
He worked at the Coventry Evening Telegraph from 1980 to 1983 when he joined the BBC. He was a Northern Ireland reporter from 1985 to 1987 (at a busy time in Northern Ireland's history), then the Defence Correspondent (TV) from 1987 to 1995. From then until 1999 he was the European Correspondent, and broadening his coverage in 1999, he became the World Affairs Correspondent until 2003, when he became an environment and science correspondent. In January 2012 he was appointed as the BBC's first science editor.
- Brown, Ben and Shukman, David, All Necessary Means : Inside the Gulf War, 1994
- Shukman, David, The Sorcerer's Challenge: Fears and Hopes for the Weapons of the Next Millennium, 1996
- Shukman, David, Tomorrow's War: The Threat of High-Technology Weapons, 1996
- Shukman, David, Reporting Live from the End of the Word. Profile Books, 2010.
- Shukman, David, Reporting Live from the End of the World , 2011
- Shukman, David, An Iceberg As Big As Manhattan, 2011
- "Harold Shukman". The Daily Telegraph. London. 25 September 2012.
- Plunkett, John (2012-01-16). "BBC names David Shukman as first science editor". London: The Guardian.
- Shukman, David (16 June 2012). "A Polish village's forgotten Jewish dead". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 June 2012.