Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the best-known and most influential human person in world history. Richard Bauckham explores the life of the historical Jesus, using the four Gospels to reconstruct his character, showing how their differences provide us with an insight into more than one angle of a complex historical figure.
Computers form a vital part of most people's lives. But what is the nature of the computer? How does it work? What will the next generations of computers look like? Darrel Ince looks at the basic concepts behind all computers; the range of their uses, the effects of computers in the workplace, and novel forms such as quantum computers.
Arguably, nationality is the most important social phenomenon in the world today. But what is the nation? Why is it so important to human beings? What is its relation to religion and commerce? Steven Grosby shows how closely linked the concept of nationalism is with being human.
A. C. Grayling's accessible introduction to Wittgenstein's work describes both his early and later philosophy, the differences and connections between them, and gives a fresh assessment of Wittgenstein's continuing influence on contemporary thought.
This Very Short Introduction examines Voltaire's (1694-1778) remarkable life and career. Exploring his most important writings, the impact his work had on our understanding of the European Enlightenment, and his status as a literary celebrity at the time, Nicholas Cronk considers his continued relevance in literature, politics, and philosophy.
How have the Jews survived? For millennia, they have defied odds by overcoming the travails of exile, persecution, and recurring plans for their annihilation. This book charts the long journey of the Jews through history. At the same time, it points to two unlikely factors to explain the survival of the Jews: antisemitism and assimilation.
This book tells the story of modern drama through its seminal, groundbreaking plays and performances, and the artistic diversity that these represent. Exploring the new note of artistic hostility between dramatists and their audience, Shepherd-Barr draws on a range of theories and performances to reveal what makes modern drama "modern".
English Literature: A Very Short Introduction discusses why literature matters, how narrative works, and what is distinctly English about English literature. Jonathan Bate considers how we determine the content of the field, and looks at the three major kinds of imaginative literature - English poetry, English drama and The English novel.
Everyone has an opinion about the core issues of medical law; from clinical negligence and organ transplantation to abortion, confidentiality, and euthanasia - it deals with matters of life and death. Using case studies to explore the key principles, Charles Foster presents a fascinating Very Short Introduction to medical law.
Psychology influences the way we think about everything, from education and intelligence to relationships and advertising. This updated Very Short Introduction by Gillian Butler and Freda McManus provides an exploration of the leadings ideas and theories of psychology for anyone interested in understanding the human mind.
In this Very Short Introduction to the gene Jonathan Slack explores the discovery, nature, and role of genes in evolution and development. Looking at how genes are understood as a concept, the nature of genetic variation, and how their mutation can lead to disease, this is an ideal guide for anyone curious about what genes are and how they work.
In this new edition of the Very Short Introduction to Geopolitics, Klaus Dodds uses a wide range of real-life examples, from the past and present, to demonstrate not only the importance of the links between political power, geography, and cultural diversity, but also how our geopolitical outlook moulds our understanding of the world.
Modern microbiology has transformed our understanding of life on earth, and had a huge impact on medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. In this Very Short Introduction, Nicholas P. Money explores the microbial world, considering its diversity and vital roles in ecosystems, including the human body.
There is much conflicting information about diet and health; with issues such as obesity and food allergies increasing worldwide despite healthy eating campaigns such as 'five-a-day'. In this Very Short Introduction, David Bender provides a simple but authoritative guide to the main principles of human nutrition and a healthy diet.
Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse of ecosystems. In this Very Short Introduction, Charles Sheppard tells the fascinating story of how and where coral reefs are formed and the diversity of marine life they support. He also highlights the threats they face due to exploitation and the conservation efforts in place to tackle these issues.
Do we love someone for their virtue, their beauty, or their moral or other qualities? Are love's characteristic desires altruistic or selfish? Are there duties of love? What do the sciences tell us about love? In this Very Short Introduction, Ronald de Sousa explores the different kinds of love, from affections to romantic love.
In this Very Short Introduction Christina Riggs explores the visual arts produced in Egypt over a span of some 4,000 years. Describing the context and stories behind the objects that fill our museums and galleries, from sculpture and magical implements to whole buildings, Riggs explores the relationship between the ancient world and our own.
Teeth are a vital component of vertebrate anatomy and a fundamental part of the fossil record. It was the evolution of teeth, associated with predation, that drove the evolution of the wide array of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and then mammals. Peter S. Ungar looks at how, without teeth, none of these developments could have occurred.
This Very Short Introduction discusses the necessity of welfare states in modern capitalist societies. Situating social policy in an historical, sociological, and comparative perspective, David Garland brings a new understanding to familiar debates, policies, and institutions.
In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Hall shows how material science combines physics, chemistry, and biology with engineering to understand and exploit materials and create new ones, often with extraordinary optical and electrical properties.
In this accessible and authoritative Very Short Introduction, Richard English considers what modern warfare is and what it achieves. Addressing our assumptions about war in the modern period, and drawing upon direct accounts of warfare, he considers its impact on society, culture, economics, as well its future.
Landscape architecture, which includes the planning of parks and gardens and the design and siting of buildings and roads, plays an important role in shaping the world around us. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Thompson uses real-life examples from around the world to examine its impact throughout history and in contemporary society.
In this Very Short Introduction Ali Ansari provides a radical reinterpretation of Iranian history and politics, placing the Islamic Revolution in the context of a century of political change and social transformation, to gain a fuller understanding of Iran's identity, culture, and politics.
Drawing on a mixture of science and history, Prof Lord John Krebs looks at the development of food and the four great transitions that affected the way we eat. From issues such as the obesity crisis and sustainable agriculture to food scares and the role of new technologies, Krebs provides a fascinating exploration of the history of human food.
Where does our conscience come from, and how reliable is it? Exploring its deep historical roots, Paul Strohm considers what conscience has meant to successive generations. Using examples from popular culture and contemporary politics he demonstrates that conscience is as important today as it has ever been.
Astrobiologists study the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of life beyond Earth; a question that has fascinated scientists for hundreds of years. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the latest scientific understanding of astrobiology, incorporating aspects of microbiology, geology, and astronomy.
The conflict between Palestine and Israel is one of the most highly publicized and bitter struggles in history. In this accessible and stimulating Very Short Introduction, Martin Bunton clearly explains the history of the problem, reducing it to its very essence - a modern territorial contest between two nations and one geographical territory.
Since the mid-19th century crime fiction has been one of the most popular sub-genres of the novel. In this Very Short Introduction, Richard Bradford explores its origins and the features that define its varied style. He considers its role in popular culture around the world and considers why its classification as 'literature' is still ambiguous.
Generally referring to all forms of social coordination and patterns of rule, the term 'governance' is used in many different contexts. In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Bevir explores the main theories of governance and considers their impact on ideas of governance in the corporate, public, and global arenas.
In this Very Short Introduction Peter M. Higgins presents an overview of the number types featured in modern science and mathematics. Providing a non-technical account, he explores the evolution of the modern number system, examines the fascinating role of primes, and explains their role in contemporary cryptography.
For over a hundred years 'the avant-garde' has been the most influential concept in modern art; its impact on the history of modern culture has been profound. In this Very Short Introduction, David Cottington explores why the avant-garde carries so much authority, and places it within the context of western modernity and capitalist culture.
In this book John Marenbon discusses the extraordinary breadth of medieval philosophy as written by Christians in Greek and Latin, Muslims in Arabic and by Jews in Hebrew, from c. 500 to c. 1550. He considers important factors such as where and when it took place, its social setting and its links with religion.
William Allan's Very Short Introduction provides a concise and lively guide to the major authors, genres, and periods of classical literature. Drawing upon a wealth of material, he reveals just what makes the 'classics' such masterpieces and why they continue to influence and fascinate today.
Looking at literature from Medieval Britain and Ireland, including Anglo-Latin and Anglo-Norman poetry, prose and drama, this Very Short Introduction covers the earliest beginnings of print culture, and considers major themes of these works, such as sin and salvation, kingship and authority, myth and the monstrous.
In this Very Short Introduction Nick Middleton tells the story of the desert, demonstrating its beautiful landscapes and remarkable climates. He challenges the common notion that they are dry and barren and uncovers fascinating life-forms, a rich biodiversity, and a long history of human habitation.
Networks are involved in many aspects of everyday life, from food webs in ecology and the spread of pandemics to social networking and public transport. This Very Short Introduction explores the basics of network theory to understand the science of complexity and its importance, using examples from nature, technology, and society, and history.
Making good decisions under conditions of uncertainty requires an appreciation of the way random chance works. In this Very Short Introduction, John Haigh provides a brief account of probability theory; explaining the philosophical approaches, discussing probability distributions, and looking its applications in science and economics.
The course and consequences of major events of modern international diplomacy have shaped and changed the global world in which we live. Joseph M. Siracusa introduces the subject of diplomacy from a historical perspective, providing examples from significant historical phases and episodes to illustrate the art of diplomacy in action.
Genius is highly individual and unique yet it shares a compelling quality. In this intriguing introduction Andrew Robinson uses the life and work of familiar geniuses - and some less familiar - to consider what their achievements have in common; whether its heredity, education, hard work, intelligence or just plain luck.
Writing is a defining marker of civilisation; without it there could be no accumulation of knowledge. Andrew Robinson tells the fascinating story of the history of writing, considering its development, and examining the enormous variety of writing and scripts we use today.
This Very Short Introduction is a celebration of rivers in all their diversity. Nick Middleton covers a wide and eclectic range of river-based themes, from physical geography to mythology, to industrial history and literary criticism. Worshipped and revered, respected and feared, rivers reflect both the natural and social history of our planet.
Thomas Aquinas, one of the most famous and highly thought of Christian thinkers, was a controversial figure who was exposed and engaged in conflict. This Very Short Introduction looks at Aquinas in a historical context, and explores the Church and culture into which Aquinas was born. It also ask why Aquinas matters now.
In this Very Short Introduction Jamie Woodward examines the environmental shifts that took place during the Great Ice Age of the Quaternary Period. Looking at evidence from the continents, the oceans, and the ice core records, he explores the evolution of ideas about our geological past, the great debates, and the human stories behind it all.
How many languages are there? What differentiates one language from another? Are new languages still being discovered? Why are so many languages disappearing? These are some of the questions considered in this Very Short Introduction. By examining the science of languages, we find that the answers are not as simple as we might expect.
Most of us spend our lives striving for happiness. But what is it? How important is it? How can we (and should we) pursue it? In this Very Short Introduction Dan Haybron provides a comprehensive look at the nature of happiness. By using examples, Haybron considers how we measure happiness, what makes us happy, and considers its subjective nature.
The Napoleonic Wars left their mark on European and world societies in a variety of ways, not least from the radical social and political change they evoked in many countries. Examining the social, political, and institutional aspects of warfare in the Napoleonic era, Mike Rapport considers their significance and the legacy they leave today.
John Maynard Keynes was one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century. His ideas have had a central influence on many of areas of economics used today, both in theory and practice. In this Very Short Introduction Lord Robert Skidelsky looks at Keynes's life, his philosophy, his theories, and the legacy he left behind.
Dictionaries are far more than works which list the words and meanings of a language. In this Very Short Introduction Lynda Mugglestone takes a look at how dictionaries are made, considering how they reflect the dominant social and cultural assumptions of the time in which they were written.
Here, David Gwynn reflects on the remarkable legacy of the Roman Republic. The rise and fall of the Republic holds a special place in the history of Western civilization; it has been presented as a model, a source of inspiration, but also a warning. Placing the events in their wider context, he provides a fascinating history of culture and society.