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.
Stoicism is two things: a long past philosophical school of ancient Greece and Rome, and an enduring philosophical movement that still inspires people in the twenty-first century to re-think and re-organize their lives in order to achieve personal satisfaction. Brad Inwood presents the long history that connects these.
Now a vital part of modern economies, the rapid growth of the finance industry in recent decades is largely due to the development of mathematical methods such as the theory of arbitrage. Asset valuation, credit trading, and fund management, now depend on these mathematical tools. Mark Davis explains the theories and their applications.
Albert Camus is one of the best known philosophers of the twentieth century, as well as a widely read novelist. This book contextualises Camus in his troubled and conflicted times, and analyses the enduring popularity of his major philosophical and literary works in connection with contemporary political, social, and cultural issues.
Despite the fascination with psychopaths in film, TV, and novels, psychopathy remains widely misunderstood. Most psychopaths are not murderers; most violent criminals are not psychopaths. Separating myth from fact, Essi Viding explores how we identify psychopaths, why they behave and develop the way they do, and whether treatment is possible.
Methodism began as renewal movement within Anglicanism in the eighteenth century, dominated the Protestant landscape of the USA in the nineteenth, and continues to be one of the most vibrant forms of Christianity worldwide today. William J Abraham traces its history, describes its particular identity and emphases, and looks to its future prospects.
Recent archaeological discoveries from China and central Asia have changed our understanding of how human civilization developed in the period of some 4 million years before the start of written history. In this new edition of his Very Short Introduction, Chris Gosden explores the current theories on the ebb and flow of human cultural variety.
This book is about the central role of evolution in shaping the nature and diversity of the living world. It describes the processes of natural selection, how adaptations arise, and how new species form, as well as summarizing the evidence for evolution.
From dinosaurs to lizards, snakes, and turtles, Tom Kemp considers the range of reptiles which have walked our Earth. Exploring how evolutionary adaptions have fitted them to their individual niches, he discusses their biology, such as cold bloodedness and feeding habits, and analyses why reptiles have been so successful throughout history.
Geoff Cottrell explores matter, from its familiar forms as solids, liquids, and gases to plasmas, exotic forms of quantum matter, and antimatter. Discussing the origins of matter in the Big Bang, he looks at atoms, energy, mass, and the mysterious forms of dark matter and dark energy.
Covering some of science's most divisive topics, such as philosophical issues in genetics and evolution, the philosophy of biology also encompasses more traditional philosophical questions, such as free will, essentialism, and nature vs nurture. Here, Samir Okasha outlines the core issues with which contemporary philosophy of biology is engaged.
Extinction has occurred throughout the history of life, and nearly all the species that have ever existed have now disappeared. In this Very Short Introduction, Paul B. Wignall looks at the causes and nature of extinction events, what makes a species vulnerable, and the debates in modern science of the role of climate and humans.
Is terrorism crime or war? Can there be a 'war against terrorism'? In this fully updated edition, Charles Townshend unravels the questions at the heart of the problem of terrorism - its causes, methods, effects, and limitations - suggesting that it must be understood as a political strategy whose threat can be rationally grasped and answered.
From modern pandemics such as HIV, Ebola, and Zika, to stories of vaccination and antiviral drugs, this Very Short Introduction charts our struggle against viruses. Outlining their origins, structure, and method of infection, Dorothy Crawford explores the vast variety of viruses, and asks if we can live in harmony with them in the future.
Energy supply is foundational to modern society, but damaging to the environment. This book takes a 'systems view', from extraction of primary fuel, through conversion to usable energy, and transportation to point of use. It explores initiatives to generate electricity in an environmentally benign manner, and decarbonise the supply of energy.
Leo Tolstoy is one of the greatest novelists ever to have lived, whose books have stood the test of time to remain widely recognised as literary masterpieces today. This Very Short Introduction explores his celebrated novels and nonfiction writings to reveal the core themes and thought at the heart of Tolstoy's work.
Physics encompasses all levels of nature from the subatomic to the cosmic, and underlies much of the technology around us. From modern quantum mechanics to cosmology, digital electronics, and energy production, this book discusses why physics is worth doing and how physicists do it.
Dealing with some of the thorniest problems in medicine, from euthanasia to the distribution of health care resources, this book introduces the reasoning we can use to approach medical ethics. Exploring how medical ethics supports health professionals' work, it also considers the impact of the media, pressure groups, and legal judgments.
Dyslexia is gaining increasing recognition as a relatively common learning disorder. Margaret Snowling introduces the exciting research surrounding dyslexia, considering potential causes, the neuroscience behind it and attempts to understand how it works, and the various strategies and interventions which can help people with dyslexia today.
The nature of politics in Britain is being questioned as never before, with Brexit throwing both party and national politics into turmoil. Here, Tony Wright provides the essential context for current debates about the state of British politics, identifying key characteristics of its history and ideas which influence the current political landscape.
Fire has shaped the Earth's landscape and vegetation for the past 400 million years. This book explores the history of wildfire, and how humans have sought to use and manage it. The need to understand fire has never been greater, as human settlements encroach on flammable landscapes and wildfires increase with climate change.
Racism is ever present today, and it has become common now to refer to a variety of racisms, from biological to cultural, colour-blind, and structural racisms. Ali Rattansi explores the history of racism and illuminates contemporary issues in this controversial subject, from intersectionality to cultural racism, to the debate over whiteness.
What is innovation? How can it be used? Why is failure so common in the process of innovation? This Very Short Introduction looks at what innovation is, what it has done for us, and why it has been so important in the last 150 years.
Kathleen Taylor offers a clear guide to dementia, covering its history and its definition, different types and their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and the underlying science. She also explains why we still have no cure for dementia, and looks at current research which could soon change that.
The tide is important to Earth's climate, the biological productivity of our seas, and our hunt for renewable energy sources. It is also thought to have played a role in the evolution of life on Earth. This book explains the nature and cause of the tide, its observation and prediction, unusual tides, and their relevance to us.
'Identity' as a concept has many faces, and its very versatility in different contexts can make it hard to define. Florian Coulmas discusses the many meanings of this slippery concept, considering why individual and collective identities are important to us, and discussing the problems asserting individual identities can create.
In this Very Short Introduction Bernard O'Donoghue explores the many different forms of writing which have been called 'poetry', from the Greeks to the present day. He considers the varying status and uses of poetry, and engages with contemporary debates as to what value poetry holds today.
The Iliad and the Odyssey are the cornerstones of Western literature, inspiring artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers throughout history. Barbara Graziosi introduces Homer's key works and discusses the main literary, historical, and archaeological issues at the heart of Homeric studies.
This concise guide explains the history, theory, potential, application, and limitations of Artificial Intelligence. Boden shows how research into AI has shed light on the working of human and animal minds, and she considers the philosophical challenges AI raises: could programs ever be really intelligent, creative or even conscious?