David Read was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on 23 April 1922. Left as a single mother when Read was young, his mother ran a small hotel in Masailand, the only European woman for a hundred miles around. David grew up around Masai children. Masai became his first language, followed by Swahili then English, and he adopted the Masai way of life, taking part in meat festivals and other gatherings and ceremonies.
At the age of 14, Read was sent to school in Arusha, and then employed as an apprentice Metallurgist by the Tanganyika Department of Geological Survey. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the Kenya Regiment and later served with the Kings African Rifles in Abyssinia, Madagascar and Burma. After the War, he joined the Tanganyika Veterinary Department.
Having acquired a farm on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, he went on to become a prominent landowner in Tanganyika and was Chairman of the Tanganyika Farmers Association from 1973 to 1975. He then left Tanzania for Zambia, South Africa, and then Kenya where he joined Lima Limited as their Agricultural Consultant.
Read passed away on 2 July 2015 in Momella, northern Tanzania, at the age of 93.