Famous throughout history for their doomed stand at Thermopylae, and immortalised by contemporary Athenian writers who viewed them as the exotic other, the Spartans, and their brutality and bravery, both fascinate and appal us. Andrew Bayliss reveals the best and the worst of this harsh society, separating myth from reality.
This Very Short Introduction describes anarchism as a lived set of practices, with a rich historical legacy, and shows how anarchists have inspired and criticised some of our most cherished values, from the ideals of freedom, participatory education, federalism, and climate change, to science fiction.
Viruses are everywhere, and as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, cannot be ignored. From their discovery to the unravelling of their intricate structures, this Very Short Introduction provides a rounded and concise account of the nature of viruses, how they attack their hosts, and the efforts to control them.
This book shows how and why societies around the world have used juries, from ancient Athens to today. It considers the present decline of jury trials in English speaking countries, the alternatives that have been used throughout history, and analyses how innovations from these non-English-speaking countries may hold the key to jurors' survival.
When Kurt Goedel published his celebrated theorem, showing that no axiomatization can determine the whole truth and nothing but the truth concerning arithmetic, it had a profound impact on mathematical ideas and philosophical thought. Adrian Moore places the theorem in its intellectual and historical context, explaining the key concepts and misunderstandings.
Anselm was the outstanding philosopher-theologian of the Latin West between Augustine and the thirteenth century. This introduction examines the historical and political contexts that shaped his work and explains his central project of 'faith seeking understanding,' encompassing arguments for the existence of God and an account of God's nature.
Liba Taub gives an overview of the major developments in early science between the 8th century BC and 6th century AD. Focussing on Greece and Rome, she discusses the key thinkers and their theories, and traces the evolution of ideas concerning the natural world and its operation, and considers the influence these ideas have had on later centuries.
With the media bringing us constant tales of terrorism and violence, questions regarding the nature of evil are highly topical. Luke Russell explores the philosophical thinking and psychological evidence behind evil, alongside portrayals of fictional villains, considering why people are evil, and how it goes beyond the normal realms of what is bad.
This Very Short Introduction discusses the central events, machines, and people that feature in established accounts of the history of computing. It then recontextualises them, critically examining received perceptions and providing a fresh look at the nature and development of the modern electronic computer.
From nanobots to nanoswarms, the field of nanotechnology has been a staple of science fiction. As this Very Short Introduction shows, the science, from quantum confinement to self-assembly and molecular machines, is just as fascinating.
Solid, liquid, and gas are not the only states of matter. Others include liquid crystal, magnet, glass, and superconductor. New states are continually, and unexpectedly, being discovered. Condensed matter physics seeks to understand how states of matter and their distinct physical properties emerge from the atoms that compose a material.
Negotiation is essential for peace and international relations, but also for economically efficient trades and bargains in business, and for problem solving skills in workplaces, families and interpersonal interactions. Menkel-Meadow illustrates different models, approaches, and styles of negotiation, which are both conceptual and behavioral.
This book traces the key arguments that have led poststructuralists to challenge traditional theories of language and culture. It draws on examples from across our culture to explain how poststructuralism explores the relationship between human beings, the world, and the practice of making and reproducing meanings.
Humans and other organisms harbour microbiomes, communities of microorganisms which are mostly beneficial but can sometimes cause disease. This book explains how and why our health and wellbeing depend on our resident microbiomes, providing readers with the knowledge to judge claims about microbiome-based applications.
Few Americans and even fewer citizens of other nations understand the electoral process in the United States. The third edition of this Very Short Introduction offers an up-to-date overview of American political parties and elections, providing an expert view of how the system actually works while shining a light on some of its flaws.
India has become one of the world's emerging powers, rivaling China in terms of global influence. Yet people still know relatively little about the cultural changes unfolding in India today. Craig Jeffrey looks at the history of India, and considers the questions and challenges facing it today, informed by the everyday stories of Indian citizens.
Michael Beaney introduces analytic philosophy by exploring some of the key ideas of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Susan Stebbing. He also considers how analytic philosophy has developed and spread to become the dominant philosophical tradition across the world.
Graham Priest shows that formal logic is a powerful, exciting part of modern philosophy - a tool for thinking about everything from the existence of God and the reality of time to paradoxes of probability. Explaining formal logic in simple, non-technical terms, this edition includes new sections on mathematical algorithms, axioms, and proofs.
o How do nations escape poverty and achieve economic and social progress? Ian Goldin, a former vice-president of the World Bank, explains what development means in its broadest sense - encompassing education, health, and gender equality as well as economic growth. He discusses the shift from state-led strategies, to ones driven by market forces.
Decadence: A Very Short Introduction provides an elegant overview of the culture of decadence - defined as the artistic expression of a conflicted sense of modernity - by tracing its origin in ancient Rome, development in nineteenth-century Paris and London, manifestation in early twentieth-century Vienna and Berlin, and present resonance in contemporary life.
This Very Short Introduction explores the thousand-year history of the Holy Roman Empire, from its origins in 800 as Charlemagne's Frankish kingdom, to its destruction by Napoleon. Throughout, Joachim Whaley analyses the empire's crucial impact and role in the history of European power and politics.
Fully updated to include the migrant crisis, the UK's decision to leave the Union, and the state of the Euro currency, this accessible Very Short Introduction shows how and why the EU has developed, how its institutions works, and what it does - from the single market to the Euro, and from agriculture to peace-keeping and the environment.
Marx is one of the most influential philosophers of all time, whose theories about society, economics, and politics have shaped and directed political and social thought for 150 years. In this new edition, Peter Singer discusses the legacy and impact of Marx's core theories, considering how they apply to twenty first century politics and society.
In this Very Short Introduction Simon Yarrow explores sainthood, sanctity, and the lives of saints themselves. Explaining their social, cultural, and political roles through history, he considers them as forms of literary and artistic expression, and concludes by looking at their relevance in the modern world.
Reading can inform, inspire, emancipate, and motivate us. Down the centuries, it has brought huge educational and social benefits. It can also unleash subversion, and its spread has been accompanied by censorship and control. Belinda Jack explores the global development and impact of reading - from ancient texts to digital texts today.
Martin Heidegger is one of the twentieth century's greatest yet most enigmatic and divisive philosophers. Michael Inwood explores the major themes of Heidegger's seminal work, Being and Time, as well his later thought and association with Nazism.
From folk music to worldbeat, world music holds the power to evoke the exotic and give voice to the voiceless. This new edition shows how dramatic political changes are affecting the ways in which people produce and listen to world music, and addresses how new technologies and the internet alter the way we disseminate and listen to it.
Encompassing everything from great power politics to everyday objects such as smart phones, geopolitics affects citizens, governments, and international bodies, and is far more than simply the impact of geographical features on political developments. This book considers both geopolitics' intellectual historical origins and its current concerns.
Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, he rejected old models of thinking and replaced them with versions that are still debated today. This book introduces and explores aspects of his life, work, and thought.
The study of human evolution is advancing rapidly. New fossil evidence is adding ever more pieces to the puzzle of our past; the new science of ancient DNA is completely reshaping theories of early human populations and migrations. Bernard Wood traces the field of palaeoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the present.
Drawing on the latest scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Evans takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart, discussing the evolution of emotions and their biological basis, the science of happiness, and the role that emotions play in memory and decision making.
Christopher Taylor introduces the life and philosophy of Socrates, whose work has played a central role in shaping Western philosophical thinking for centuries. Examining what we can deduce about Socrates from the writings of his contemporaries (as he himself left none), Taylor traces the reception and influence of his thought to the modern day.
Quentin Skinner introduces Niccolo Machiavelli, Florentine diplomat, politician, and the writer known for that most infamous Early Modern work, The Prince. He explores Machiavelli's theory of princely virtu, tracing its roots in ancient historians and moralists, and considering its influence on contemporary politics.
William Doyle chronicles the unfolding events of the French Revolution, from the quarrels of the first revolutionaries with the king, to the Terror, to the rise of Napoleon. Considering how and why the revolution destroyed the age-old cultural, institutional, and social structures in France, Doyle also explores its lasting effects today.
Eric R. Scerri presents a modern and fresh exploration of this fundamental topic in the physical sciences, considering the deeper implications of the arrangements of the table to atomic physics and quantum mechanics. This new edition celebrates the completion of the 7th period of the table, with the naming of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118
This book presents an introduction to one of the most important treaties ever written, the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I in 1919. Controversial from the very beginning, the treaty still shapes the destinies of societies and states worldwide.
This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of federalism, from its origins and evolution to the key events and constitutional decisions that have defined its framework. While primary focus is on the United States, other federal systems, including Brazil, Canada, India, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and the EU, are addressed.
Nazi Germany may have only lasted for 12 years, but it has left a legacy that still echoes with us today. This book discusses the emergence and appeal of the Nazi party, the relationship between consent and terror in securing the regime, the role played by Hitler himself, and the dark stains of war, persecution, and genocide left by Nazi Germany.
Jenny Hartley introduces Charles Dickens's life and works, looking at the vitality of his characters and the energy which surges through his writing. Examining the themes running through his books, she considers the institutions which influenced his work (such as the workhouse) and looks at his critique of nineteenth century society.
Nazi concentration camps are by no means the only examples of these 'extreme institutions'; Dan Stone sets out the fuller story, from the Boer War to Bosnia. He shows how different regimes have used concentration camps at times of crisis to control populations that appeared threatening, and examines their role in consciousness and identity.
The three centuries following the conquests of Alexander were perhaps the most thrilling of all periods of ancient history. Culture, ideas, and individuals travelled freely over vast areas from the Rhone to the Indus, whilst dynasts battled for dominion over Alexander's great empire. Thonemann presents a brief history of this globalized world.
Secularism, the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education, is an increasingly hot topic in global public, political, and religious debates. Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, discussing secular republics and the challenges they can face from resurgent religious identity politics.
Synaethesia is a neurological condition that gives rise to a 'merging of the senses': those with the condition might experience certain numbers as a specific colour, or certain words as a taste. Simner describes synaesthesia's many forms, discusses its links with artistic creativity and lateral thinking, and delves into the underlying neuroscience.
Applied mathematics plays a role in many different fields, especially the sciences and engineering. Goriely explains its nature and its relationship to pure mathematics, and through a variety of applications - such as mathematical modelling to predict the effects of climate change - he illustrates its power in tackling very practical problems.
Adam Sharr tells the story of how modern architecture developed and produced its powerful cultural images. Considering the new building materials and techniques which shaped the movement, such as innovations in steel and concrete and the advent of air conditioning, he concludes by asking whether contemporary architecture remains modern at heart.