Cambridge University Press

In July 1887, a group of British naturalists set out from southern England bound for the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha in search of botanical specimens. They left Southampton with high expectations. Charles Darwin, in the 1830s, had visited Fernando as part of his Beagle expeditions and had remarked on the richness of the island, including its thick vegetation.

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Australia’s Vietnam War has passed through several phases in the last six decades. In the mid-1960s the commitment of combat forces by the Menzies and Holt governments was strongly supported. The war and the associated conscription scheme became the focus of enormous controversy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, contributing to Labor’s electoral success in 1972. Gough Whitlam did not pull out the troops – that had already been done by his predecessor, William McMahon – but he did recognise the communist government in the north, even before the war was over.

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Andrea Brady’s monumental study of poetry and constraint focuses on ‘the ways that poets invoke bondage as metaphor while effacing the actuality of bondage’. Milton’s aspiration to deliver poetry from ‘the modern bondage of rhyming’, and Blake’s injunction that ‘poetry fetter’d, fetters the human race’, associate formal freedoms with political liberation. The modernist discovery of free verse was quickly followed by a formalist reaction in the 1940s, which was in turn displaced by renewed experimentation over the following decades.

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Familiarity may have inured us to Shakespeare’s violence. Poison, suffocation, suicide, rape, and assassination are among the central events of his major plays. But the upper-middle-class respectability of too many Shakespeare performances and the insipid, managerial culture of academic ‘Shakespeare studies’ threaten to reduce the greatest of all dramatists to something antiseptic and safe.

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The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived, though not so much an age of sentient robots as one of ubiquitous data collection and analysis fuelling automated decisions, categorisations, predictions, and recommendations in all walks of life. The stakes of AI-enabled decision-making may be as serious as life and death (Spanish police use a system called VioGén to forecast domestic violence) or as trivial as the arrangement of pizza-toppings.

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One consequence of the pandemic is that it has led many people to imagine themselves as someone else. Those whose work has dried up – actors, musicians, curators, librarians, flight attendants, and so on – have suddenly had to adapt to a world that has no place for the things they do and thus no place for people like them. What if this new world is not just a temporary blip, but the shape of things to come? Who will I be in this future world?

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Towards the end of Thoreau’s Religion, Alda Balthrop-Lewis, an academic at Australian Catholic University, evokes an experience each of us has likely had in some form. The sight of a rainbow or the sound of a bird amazes you so much that you simply have to share it. Delight inspires you to share with others, so that it may alter them as well as your relationship bringing you, collectively, into a more intimate and responsible accord with the freshly encountered world. In a book about Henry David Thoreau (1817–62), the explicit aim of such a passage is to convey that, contrary to the inherited belief that Thoreau was a dour ascetic, he actually embraced delight, and that, in this spirit of delight, his writing might be understood as a type of exhortation to ‘Look!’.

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Bain Attwood’s Empire and the Making of Native Title is a welcome contribution to the field. Like many good historians of sovereignty and native title in Australia and New Zealand, Attwood stresses the importance of contingency and complexity in the first decades of British settlement on both sides of the Tasman Sea. His early chapters focus on the local and imperial contexts that shaped Crown approaches to Indigenous title in New South Wales, Port Phillip, and South Australia. The rest of the book provides a forensic account of the lead-up to and aftermath of the British assumption of sovereignty in New Zealand, and its shifting ramifications for legal arguments about Māori land title.

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Written by a prominent economist with a long career in emissions reduction and policy modelling, this engaging book attempts to debunk eleven myths that undermine effective climate action. Jaccard also offers a ‘simple’ path to climate success, built around strong regulatory action, carbon pricing, a system of carbon tariffs, and supporting poorer countries in energy transitions. Jaccard focuses on emissions reduction in the transport and energy sectors, in line with his areas of expertise.

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In its long war in Afghanistan, Australia lost forty-one soldiers. These deaths were felt keenly, and usually the prime minister, other senior politicians, and army chiefs attended the funerals. In addition, more than 260 soldiers were wounded. Service in Afghanistan was trying and demanding. Yet, while Special Forces units were constantly rotated through numerous deployments, at any particular time fewer than 2,000 Australian soldiers were serving in Afghanistan. ... (read more)