A waved albatross soars along the cliffs of Española Island. Image via William H. Durham.

In this adapted extract from Exuberant Life, William H. Durham explores the unique biology and behaviour of waved albatrosses, native to the Galápagos islands.

Visitors to Española, the southernmost island of Galápagos, are often thrilled by the sight of the endemic waved albatrosses. They are big birds, weighing up to 4 kg (9 lbs) and sporting wingspans up to 2.5 m (9 ft). They come ashore each year, some 15,000 strong, forming colonies from April to December along the island’s southern coast.

During that interval, their “beak fencing” courtship display is a wonder to behold. Mated pairs waddle back and…


San Francesco della Vigna by Didier Descouens — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

A true story of vendetta and intrigue, triumph and tragedy, exile and repatriation, The Venetian Bride by Patricia Fortini Brown recounts the interwoven microhistories of Count Girolamo Della Torre, a feudal lord with a castle and other properties in the Friuli, and Giulia Bembo, grand-niece of Cardinal Pietro Bembo and daughter of Gian Matteo Bembo, a powerful Venetian senator with a distinguished career in service to the Venetian Republic. This excerpt from the book highlights the fulcrum of the larger narrative; the marriage of Girolamo Della Torre and Giulia Bembo in the mid-sixteenth century, and the decision making behind it.


Photo by CDC on Unsplash

In this excerpt from At What Cost: Modern Capitalism and the Future of Health, author Nicholas Freudenberg explores how health is related to education and the private sectors relatively new interest in investing in it.

Nothing better promotes lifetime health than education. At every stage of life, more education leads to better health. The reverse is also true: throughout the lifespan, healthier people achieve more academic success and learn more easily. If pharmaceutical companies could bottle and sell education, they could get rich while truthfully making the most extravagant claims. …


Photo by Aditya Romansa via Unsplash

In the early 1970’s hospital births reached an all-time high of 99.4%, and the obstetrician, rather than the midwife, assumed nearly complete control over what had become an entirely medicalized procedure. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, there was an explosion of new alternative organizations, midwifery practice, and home births, despite it being illegal to practice without a medical license. In this excerpt from ‘Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth’, Wendy Kline documents the story of the Bowland Bust and the role of the ‘hippie midwife’ from the perspective of a legal case.

In the spring of 1974, three women were…


Photo by Giacomo Ferroni on Unsplash

The decade of the 1970’s saw remarkable expansion of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the UK. Ideological shifts on the role of women gave way to new demands by the movement, and provided an opportunity to combine self-realization with protest. This excerpt from Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement, 1968-present explores why and how feminism’s ‘second wave’ mobilized to demand not just equality but social and gender transformation.

A quick reminder of what women were up against even in the 1970s: they still required a man’s permission to borrow money from the bank; jobs…


Lights in Nashville, Tennessee by Hari Nandakumar. Public domain via Unsplash.

“Protest” music is largely perceived as an unsubtle art form, a topical brand of songwriting that preaches to the converted. But popular music of all types has long given listeners food for thought. James Sullivan’s Which Side Are You On? examines one-hundred years of American history through popular, socially conscious music. This extract considers the connection between the women’s liberation movement and country music.

“After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.” That was the headline on a New York magazine article published in 1969. The piece marked the emergence of the journalist Gloria Steinem as a leading voice of the women’s movement…


Jin Guliang (金古良), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In almost every society, gender exists as a way of organizing its people; assigning certain responsibilities, obligations, and privileges to some, and denying them to others. Taken from Gender: A World History, this excerpt discusses gender roles during the Chinese Han Dynasty, and how contributions of women to family life often subverted Confucian ideologies of male superiority. The life and achievements of Ban Zhao, a female historian, philosopher, and tutor to the empress Teng Sui, further challenges these traditional gender ideologies.

Confucianism has been held responsible for elaborating a gender system that presented women as weak and irrational, qualities that…


Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Amid the social turmoil of the 1970s, the UN declared 1975 International Women’s Year. The capstone event — a two-week conference in Mexico City — was dubbed “the greatest consciousness-raising event in history.” The International Women’s Year gatherings, however, became arenas for conflict and misunderstanding. Many US feminists had anticipated tutoring their Third World sisters in the ways of “authentic” feminism, while women from the global south wanted to determine their own priorities. Betty Friedan, whose anticipated presence had aroused concern among Mexican diplomats for months, emerged as an icon of conflicting feminist ideologies.

By Friday morning of the International…


© The British Library Board, Add. MS 48985 f029r

Hybrid Hate is the first book to study the conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism. As objects of racism, Jews and Blacks have been linked together for centuries. Parfitt explores the development of race theory in the West from the Renaissance to the Second World War, and casts light on contemporary racist discourses. In this excerpt, Parfitt provides a historical perspective on how Jewish and Black identity became conflated and provides invaluable insight into how that lead to the development of radicalized feelings about Jews and blacks.

Sander Gilman, the leading scholar of gentile attitudes toward “the Jew’s body” —…


Photo by Jim Witkowski via Unsplash

Over the span of more than a hundred years, Britain, Canada, and the United States attempted to carve up a continent and to build a border across Indigenous lands. In this excerpt from A Line of Blood and Dirt, Benjamin Hoy looks at the uneven ways the border shaped daily life along the Canada-US border.

Gratia A. Countryman was an unusual woman. Born in Hastings, Minnesota in 1866, she received her education at the University of Minnesota, at a time when few women entered higher education. …

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