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?
From murder to theft to drug gangs, crime and criminal justice affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. Tim Newburn considers how we can study trends in crime, and use them to inform preventative policy and criminal justice. Analysing the history of crime, he discusses the role of criminology in crime control and politics.
British Cinema: A Very Short Introduction explores the history of cinema in Britain, and considers what has made its films and techniques distinctive, especially in the context of British relations with America. Ranging across the 20th century, Barr's account looks at key British films and filmmakers within this context.
Gordon Campbell embraces the beauty and practicality of gardens in their many forms, in history and culture across the world. He also look at variations on the modern garden, including the suburban garden, the city garden, the guerrilla garden, and the vegetable garden, and considers the future of gardens.
The Psychology of Music: A Very Short Introduction seeks to answer fundamental questions of enduring interest, such as "What is musicality?" and "How does music move us?" In doing so, it reveals what happens when science attempts to confront some of the deepest questions about music.
In The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction, Marten provides a sweeping narrative of the key features of childhood through time and around the world, focusing on conflict and change, war and reform, and the issues and conditions that have shaped childhood throughout history and continue to shape it in the twenty-first century.
This book offers a thorough and lively introduction to the Hebrew Bible's two primary literary modes, narrative and poetry, foregrounding the nuances of plot, character, metaphor, structure and design, and intertextual allusions.
This Very Short Introduction considers who the poor are, where they live, what their lives are like, and what obstacles or barriers they face. Looking at the complex issues that cause the prevalence, depth, and severity of poverty to vary across countries and over time, it considers possible future solutions.
Jonathan Post introduces all of Shakespeare's poetry, including the sonnets and his great narrative poems, and explores themes of love and lust in these works. He also considers the debates surrounding their disputed authorship, and the impact these poems had, from contemporary readers right up to today.
Covering Geoffrey Chaucer's life and work, David Wallace considers the influence and enduring appeal of his body of writing, explores the wide ranging geography and iconic characters in his stories, and discusses how Chaucer's own experiences contributed to his literature.
James Naremore introduces film noir, highlighting key themes, films, and styles, and exploring why the genre is so difficult to categorize. First associated with Hollywood thrillers of the 1940s and 50s, film noir has become fully international in its nature and appeal, attracting the interest of great directors right up to our present time.
Climate scientists, geologists, ecologists, and archaeologists recognize the profound effects of human activity on Earth, though whether and how this should be recognized as a formal geological epoch - the Anthropocene - remains under debate, Erle Ellis describes how the Anthropocene concept is affecting the sciences, humanities, and politics.
This book uncovers the reality of organised crime, considering what is meant by the term 'organised', and discussing the different forms of activities organised crime engages in, from human trafficking to extortion. Offering a global perspective, from the Mafia to the Yakuza, it considers efforts to combat organised crime today.
Tom Burns explores the nature of psychiatry today, focusing on what it can and cannot do, and considering the main disorders it covers. Discussing the philosophical issues of psychiatry, he reveals psychiatry's past mistakes, before looking forward to the likely changes in its future practice with artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
This book explores the nature of scepticism, asking when it is legitimate, for example as the driver of new ideas, and when it is problematic. It also tackles how scepticism is related to contemporary social and political phenomena, such as fake news, and examines a radical form of scepticism which maintains that knowledge is impossible.
Marina Warner guides us through the rich world of fairy tale, from Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel to Snow White and Pan's Labyrinth. Exploring pervasive themes of folklore, myth, the supernatural, imagination, and fantasy, Warner highlights the impact of the genre on human understanding, history, and culture.
How does the physics we know today - a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry - link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? John Heilbron's crisp and witty book tells the 2500-year story and highlights the implications for humankind's self-understanding.
Bence Nanay introduces aesthetics, a branch of philosophy that explores the nature of art, beauty, and taste. Looking beyond traditional artistic experiences, he defends the topic from accusations of elitism, and shows how more everyday experiences such as the pleasure in a soft fabric or falling leaves can become the subject of aesthetics.
This book explores the mathematical field of topology, giving a sense of the visual elements of the field, as well as the formal definition of continuity. Considering some of the eye-opening examples that led mathematicians to study topology, it pays homage to the historical people, problems, and surprises that propelled the growth of the field.
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.
Utilitarianism is one of the most important and influential secular philosophies of modern times, and has drawn considerable debate and controversy. This Very Short Introduction considers its origins, its relevance to modern moral challenges, and the arguments and discussions around utilitarian approaches.
Rob Boddice considers how perceptions of pain have varied across history, and how the treatment of pain has also changed. Beginning with the classical world, he charts the increasing distinction drawn between physical and emotional pain, and the growing modern focus on empathy and compassion towards pain in others, and in animals.
Our oceans are hugely important, as a source of food and mineral wealth, as an environment for a vast variety of wildlife, for the role they play in climate regulation, and as part of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements critical to life. Dorrik Stow explores what we know about how oceans originate and are maintained.
Molecular Biology lies at the heart of all life sciences. This Very Short Introduction provides an account of the development of this important modern field, and considers its modern day applications such as the development of new drugs, genetically modified crops, and forensic science.
This Very Short Introduction describes the key threads in the history of Sikhism, from the late 15th century to the present day. It examines the development of a distinct Sikh identity, and explores Sikhism's meanings and myths, the teachings these embody, and its practices, rituals, and festivals.
Politics, economics, ideology, culture, strategy, tactics, and philosophy have all shaped war, but none of these factors has driven the evolution of warfare as much as technology. Expanding on this compelling thesis, this Very Short Introduction traces the co-evolution of technology and war from the Stone Age to the age of cyberwar and nanotechnology.
Thinking is the essence of what it means to be human and defines us more than anything else as a species. Jonathan Evans explores cognitive psychological approaches to understanding the nature of thinking and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.
David Norman discusses some of the most fascinating and iconic creatures to walk our Earth. Introducing the different famillies of dinosaurs, he discusses how they were first discovered and interpreted, and looks at how scientific break-throughs have changed our understanding of dinosaurs over the years.
This book describes the key threads in the history of Sikhism, from the late 15th century to the present day. It examines the development of a distinct Sikh identity, and explores the meaning of Sikhism - its teachings, practices, rituals, and festivals.
In this Very Short Introduction Geoffrey Nowell-Smith defines the field of cinema, and explores its fascinating history within the cultural and aesthetic sphere. Considering the influences of the other art forms from which it arose, he looks at how technological advances have opened up new horizons for the cinema industry.
North American Indigenous literature reaches back thousands of years to when the continent's original inhabitants first circled fires and shared tales. Sean Teuton tells its story, from when oral narrative first inspired Indigenous writers in English, through their later adaptations of the novel to serve creative and political needs.
Some of our most burning questions surround consciousness: What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Is consciousness itself an illusion? The rapid rate of developments in brain science continues to open up debate on these issues. This book clarifies the complex arguments and illuminates the major theories on consciousness.
Freemasonry is one of the oldest and most widespread voluntary organizations in the world. Andreas OEnnerfors sorts the facts from the colourful fictions surrounding this organization and outlines how the organization works, its rituals and symbols, its values, and the work it does in modern society.
An essay about how we study and understand history, this book begins by inviting us to think about various questions provoked by our investigation of history. It explores the ways these questions have been answered in the past. It also introduces the concepts of causation, interpretation, and periodization, through examples of how historians work.
Rene Descartes had a short working life, and his output was small, yet he made significant contributions to philosophy and science. This book shows that Descartes was, above all, an advocate and practitioner of a new mathematical approach to physics, and that he developed his metaphysics to support his programme in the sciences.
The Norman Conquest in 1066 was the last time England was successfully invaded, and was one of the most profound turning points in English history. This fascinating Very Short Introduction focuses on the differing ways the invasion was viewed by those who witnessed it, and how its legacy has been interpreted by generations since.
Ethnomusicology, an academic discipline founded in 1950, has been defined as the study of the music of others. This definition, at once whimsical and very nearly true, is incomplete. Many of its strongest threads have emerged because a person or a people have wanted to understand themselves, their history, and their identity.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) revolutionized the way in which we think about ourselves. From its beginnings as a theory of neurosis, Freud developed psycho-analysis into a general psychology which became widely accepted as the predominant mode of discussing personality and interpersonal relationships.
In a startling reinterpretation of the evidence, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church, but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers.
This book will transform the way you think about design by showing how integral it is to our daily lives, from the spoon we use to eat our breakfast cereal to the medical equipment used to save lives. John Heskett goes beyond style and taste to look at how different cultures and individuals personalise objects.