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Jimmie Rodgers dressed in his railroad man costume (1931). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In his new book, Rural Rhythm, author Tony Russell tells the story of old-time country in 78 songs. In this edited extract he considers Jimmie Rodgers’ 1927 record “Blue Yodel” and the influence it had on country music.

During the fall of 1927, Victor Records’ Ralph Peer was thinking about an artist he had recently signed: a thirty-year-old singer and guitarist named Jimmie Rodgers.

A former railroader from Meridian, Mississippi, Rodgers had quit because of tuberculosis and moved to Asheville, North Carolina, for its mountain air. In August 1927, he attended a location recording session that Peer was conducting in…


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Photo by Jonas Zurcher via Unsplash

In 1914, just seven countries supplied over ninety percent of the world’s wheat exports. They were: Russia, Argentina, Canada, United States, plus Romania, Australia and India. In this excerpt from The War Lords and the Gallipoli Disaster, author Nicholas Lambert explores how this global economic reality fueled one of the worst defeats of the First World War.

During the first months of the war, wheat prices rose much less than had been expected. From about October 1914, however, as the international markets began to steady, price fluctuations became less violent, and the wheels of international commerce again began to turn…


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Image via Shutterstock

In this excerpt from her new book A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible, author Kristin Swenson shows how the Bible shows up in fits and starts in nonreligious, secular settings, highlighting some popular phrases with biblical roots.

Thousands of years ago, before refrigeration or antibiotics or flush toilets or public education, when the earth’s people were far, far fewer and travel was slow, if it happened at all, when communities were as different from each other as the rainforests of South America from the high plains of central Asia, when gods were everywhere and into everything…


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Katherine Johnson at NASA, in 1966. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

In recognition of Women’s History Month this March and International Women’s Day on the 8th, we are delighted to present a curated collection of writing by and about women. Read free chapters and articles celebrating women in science, then turn to a selection of research highlighting the work that still needs doing to achieve gender parity.

Read free chapters from books by and about women.


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Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

In this excerpt from The Vaccine Handbook authors Tina Q. Tan, MD; John P. Flaherty, MD; and Melvin V. Gerbie, MD explore some of the most common misconceptions about vaccines.

Vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of modern medicine. In the early 20th century, before the routine use of vaccines, about 1 in 6 children under 5 years of age died of a vaccine-preventable disease, especially diseases such as measles, smallpox, pertussis, or rubella. Vaccination programs have contributed significantly to the marked decline in morbidity and mortality of various vaccine-preventable diseases and are credited with the worldwide…


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Photo by Steven Cornfield via Unsplash

In this excerpt from Stuck: How Vaccine Rumors Start — and Why They Don’t Go Away, author Heidi Larson explores why vaccines have become so contentious in our society.

Vaccination, from its start, has always walked a tense line between personal choice and public health, between autonomy and cooperation, and those waving the libertarian flag find a welcoming home in broader movements against government control.

Resistance around being controlled by government or other authorities is a dominant theme among those who question or refuse vaccines, those driven by a desire to not be “watched” or spied on, counted or controlled…


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“EU flags at the European Commission Berlaymont building” by Guillaume Périgois. Public domain via Unsplash.

Dan Robinson’s new book, Natural and Necessary Unions, is a history for our time, and tells the story of how the quest for autonomy shaped the history of three communities: Scotland, Ireland, and Northumbria. This excerpt, from chapter 5 of the book, touches on the battle of the unions, and discusses the results of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

‘Independence in Europe’ was the most powerful argument to appear in the nationalist arsenal since the 1920s. It offered moderates a comfortable transition to greater regional autonomy, to be catalysed by a benign process of European integration through which…


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“Infant looking at shiny object” by Mehregan Javanmard. CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

This excerpt from The Oxford Handbook of Language Prosody, edited by Carlos Gussenhoven and Aoju Chen, is drawn from an article entitled “Development of phrase-level prosody from infancy to late childhood.” It explores the current research regarding infants’ ability to discern tonal patterns and rhythms in speech. This article and Handbook will be available on Oxford Handbooks Online in March 2021.

Infants are sensitive to prosodic variation within and across languages from birth. This sensitivity undergirds early perceptual attunement to ambient language patterns. Infant vocalizations incorporate prosody from a very early age. …


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“People Talking” by Francisco Restivo from Porto, Portugal, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In this excerpt from Pragmatics: A Slim Guide, Betty J. Birner looks at the Maxim of Quantity and various examples of how implicature can function in several different situations. This title will be available on Oxford Scholarship Online in March 2021.

The Maxim of Quantity has two parts:

1. Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange).

2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

This presents a nice tension: Say enough, but don’t say too much. Most of the Quantity-based implicatures discussed in the literature are based on the…


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Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash.

At the heart of T. K. Wilson’s new book Killing Strangers lies a simple ambition — to explore how forms of political violence have changed over time. How have such acts evolved in conjunction with other forces? Why do some forms fade and other emerge? Above all, why do so many contemporary horrors have the distinctively impersonal cast that they do?

For the past 200 years the defining feature of most domestic contests between Western governments and armed opponents has tended to be their lopsided asymmetry. We shall understand very little about the dynamics of recent political violence if we…

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