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190 × 135 × 14 mm
208 pages
101 illustrations, 51 in colour
01 Oct 2013

Albatross Graham Barwell

The albatross inspires awe by its remarkable ease in the air and its huge wingspan, as well as the huge journeys these birds undertake across the oceans. Albatross looks at the place of these iconic birds in a wide variety of human cultures, from early responses by north Atlantic mariners to modern encounters.

The albatross has been celebrated through proverbs, folk stories and art, and for many, the bird’s cultural significance is still determined by Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Writers, artists and documentary makers have all focused on the albatross. Yet it's under threat in the modern world, and its prospects for the future may be bleak.

‘Whenever a new title in this entertaining Animal series lands on my desk it feels like a real treat, and this one does not disappoint . . . Albatross brings together a wonderful mix of fact, fiction, legend, art and science about one creature. In short, it covers a lot of ground. It looks at the role the albatross has played in the different lives and cultures of humans, the wonder of its awesomely long journeys and the knowledge gained from studying it, followed by consequent conservation measures and the way we see this iconic bird in the modern world. It is a great little book to read through, or to dip into.’ — British Trust for Ornithology News

‘A fascinating and thorough homage to these striking birds, Barwell's work also includes many historical images and illustrations of the albatross as it has appeared in culture, art and hunting practice.’ — Australian Birdlife

‘Graham Barwell's short and sweet account of how albatrosses fit into our culture, both past and present, is a lively and interesting read for those interested in our largest winged ambassadors. The writing is succinct, the photographs are beautiful as well as informative, and the author does a commendable job of researching a wide variety of subjects to include in this diverse book . . . well worth reading.’ — Marine Ornithology

‘Barwell writes about the past harvesting of albatrosses for feathers, eggs and sport, and their past and current cultural significance around the world. The rich range of illustrations show that the relationship has been complex, involving religion, art, fashion, ecotourism, and a destructive feather trade.’ — Wildlife Australia

‘Albatross mate for life, return to natal nest sites, live for decades, often delay first breeding for as many 20 years, but then can breed into their 60s. They raise one chick every two years, and are doting parents . . . All of this and more is covered in the wonderful book Albatross by Graham Barwell. It is one of an extraordinary series of animal books published by Reaktion Books.’ — Star Tribune, Minneapolis

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Graham Barwell teaches English, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.


1 Encountering the Albatross

2 Imagining the Albatross

3 Using the Albatross: Indigenous Cultures of the Pacific

4 Using the Albatross: Non-indigenous Peoples

5 Saving the Albatross

6 The Albatross Today: An Iconic Bird



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