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.
What are the origins of the Catholic Church? How has Catholicism changed and adapted over the centuries? What challenges does the Catholic Church face in the twenty-first century? Gerald O'Collins answers these and other questions, and in this new edition considers the impact of Pope Francis' leadership of the Church since 2013.
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.
Clinical psychology treats people who are facing difficulties or changes in their lives. Approaching personal distress as an unhappy outcome of certain ways of thinking, behaving and relating, often occurring within difficult circumstances, practitioners work with people to try and help them change what is distressing or concerning them.
Shakespeare's tragedies contain an astonishing variety of suffering, from suicides and murders to dismemberments and grief. Stanley Wells considers how the bard's tragic plays drew on the literary and theatrical conventions of his time. Discussing the individual plays, he also explores why tragedy is regarded as a fit subject for entertainment.
John C. Maher explains why societies everywhere have become more multilingual, despite the disappearance of hundreds of the world languages. He considers our notion of language as national or cultural identities, and discusses why nations cluster and survive around particular languages even as some territories pursue autonomy or nationhood.
In the wake of the Eurozone crisis and Brexit the European Union faces difficult questions about its future. In this debate, the law has a central role to play. But what exactly is EU law about? And why do its Member States respect the commitments they made when they signed the treaties so much more effectively than other treaty-based regimes?
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.
Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Robert Jones discusses the vast variety of brands, and why we still fall for them even as we are becoming more brand-aware. Looking at the philosophy and story behind brands, he considers how they work their magic, and what the future for brands might be.
'Globalization' is one of the defining buzzwords of our time, describing a variety of accelerating economic, political, and cultural processes that constantly change our experience of the world. The fourth edition of this Very Short Introduction provides an exploration of both the causes and effects of the phenomenon.
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.
There are many interpretations of the word 'Gothic'. Nick Groom explores the rich history and chronology of the term, bringing together various underlying and disparate elements to clarify its meaning. By examining its history, he argues that we can better interpret and understand society today.
This Very Short Introduction explores the history of the 18th-century Enlightenment movement. Considering its intellectual commitments, Robertson then turns to their impact on society, and the ways in which Enlightenment thinkers sought to further the goal of human betterment, by promoting economic improvement and civil and political justice.
This Very Short Introduction looks at the nature of learning and how it takes place. From the early experiments of Pavlov, Thorndike, and others to the most recent studies in social learning, Haselgrove discusses learning in both humans and other animals.
This Very Short Introduction outlines the nature of public health in our world today and places public health in its historical context from the earliest times, analysing in particular the changes in public health regulation through the nineteenth century and the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
This Very Short Introduction introduces the reader to the international world of banking. Offering a brief survey of the essential characteristics of the banking and financial systems of both developed and emerging countries and regions, it considers the future of banking after the recent global crises.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived to the age of 82 and wrote prodigiously in every genre: drama, poetry, fiction, autobiography, travel narrative, translation from French and Italian, and critical essays on art and literature, besides copious letters and diaries. Ritchie Robertson draws out key themes of his work and explains its lasting importance.
In the second edition of The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congressional historian for more than thirty years, takes readers on a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Capitol Hill, pointing out the key players, explaining their behavior, and translating parliamentary language into plain English.
This Very Short Introduction provides a narrative interpretation of key themes that emerge in the history of Asian migrations to North America, highlighting how Asian immigration has shaped the evolution of ideological and legal interpretations of America as a 'nation of immigrants'.
Pilgrimage is found in most religious cultures, from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and India, to France, Spain, and Japan. In this Very Short Introduction Ian Reader explores the key themes of pilgrimage throughout the ages, considering its various forms and its identity as a 'spiritual tourism' industry, to explain why it has remained so popular.
Earth System Science regards the Earth as an integrated system of interacting atmosphere, oceans, rocks, and biosphere. In this Very Short Introduction, Tim Lenton explores its development over 4.6 billion years, its present state, and its future.
Rocks are crucial constituents of our lives, not only making the solid ground beneath our feet, but breaking up into the soil that feeds our crops, and providing the metal ores and other materials vital for civilization. This Very Short Introduction introduces the structure and diversity of rocks on Earth, in outer space, and on other planets.
Ageing entails lifelong dynamic changes in biological, psychological, and social functioning. While such changes in later adulthood were somewhat neglected by scientists in the past, recent decades have seen a marked increase in research in this area. Nancy A. Pachana examines the impact of rising numbers of older people worldwide.
From the large corporation using enormous machines in the USA, to the woman with her hoe and her plot of cassava in Mozambique, to a Chinese collective farm worker in the rice fields, agriculture is essential for humanity to eat. This book looks at the many different types of agriculture and considers the challenges facing farmers today.
The history of Ancient Babylonia in ancient Mesopatamia is epic. Trevor Bryce offers an exploration of the rich world of Babylonia, providing insight into the intricacies of this ancient civilization and its important social, historical, and cultural legacies.
This Very Short Introduction considers the history of Italy from the Risorgimento (the movement leading to Italian Unification in 1861) to the present. It also discusses Italy's political system and style of government; economic modernisation; emigration, internal migration and immigration; and the modern Italian culture and lifestyle.
HIV/ AIDS continues to be a major public health issue, affecting millions of sufferers worldwide. This Very Short Introduction explains the science, the international and local politics, the demographics, and the devastating consequences of the disease, and addresses some of the big issues that will concern us over the next decade.
While the development of Information Technology has been obvious to all, the underpinning computer science has been less apparent. Subrata Dasgupta provides a thought-provoking introduction to the field and its core principles, considering computer science as a science of symbol processing.
Our Solar System contains more moons than planets. They show astonishing variety, and some look more likely than Mars to host microbial life. David Rothery describes these fascinating small worlds, their discovery, names, and what they can tell us about our Solar System.
This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. It explores the fundamental questions and challenges in the field, and looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics.
The Mexican Revolution was a 'great' revolution, decisive for Mexico, important within Latin America, and comparable to the other major revolutions of modern history. Alan Knight offers a succinct account of the period, from the initial uprising against Porfirio Diaz and the ensuing decade of civil war, to the enduring legacy of the Revolution.
In this second edition, Les Iversen presents an introductory account of what drugs are, how they work, and the advances made over the past 100 years in the field of pharmacology. Looking at pharmaceutical drugs and both legal and illegal recreational drugs, Iversen reflects on how twentieth-century drugs have changed our lives.
Astrophysics is said to have been born when Isaac Newton saw an apple drop in his orchard and had the electrifying insight that the Moon falls just like that apple. James Binney shows how the application of physical laws derived on Earth allows us to understand objects that exist on the far side of the Universe.
In this Very Short Introduction Jon Balserak explores major ideas and issues associated with the Calvinist system of thought. He looks at how Calvinist ideas and practices spread and took root, helping shape societies today. Much of contemporary thought - especially western thought - on everything from civil government to money, suicide, and divorce has been influenced by Calvinism. Balserak also combats common misconceptions about Calvinism, and explores
the relationship between Calvinism and the modern world.
Despite the fact that international migration continues to rise higher and higher on the political agenda, the issue is often either misunderstood or misrepresented by the media. In this Very Short Introduction, Khalid Koser provides an objective and accessible global overview of migration and its impacts.
This Very Short Introduction describes the new field of cognitive neuroscience - the study of what happens in the brain when we perceive, think, reason, remember, and act. Focusing on the human brain, Passingham looks at the most recent research in the field, the modern brain imaging technologies, and what the images can and can't tell us.
In this Very Short Introduction, leading historian of science Owen Gingerich offers a fascinating portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), who developed the concept of a heliocentric universe and is a pivotal figure in the birth of modern science.
This Very Short Introduction offers an overview of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural awakening among African Americans between the two world wars. Cheryl A. Wall brings readers to the Harlem of 1920s to identify the cultural themes and issues that engaged writers, musicians, and visual artists alike.
This succinct and insightful account of decolonization analyses the tumultuous events that caused the shift from a world of colonial empires to a world of nation-states in the years after World War II.
The Industrial Revolution was one of the great, transforming events of world history. Robert C. Allen explains what happened during this period, and why. He asks why the revolution occured in Britain rather than other countries, and looks at the impact of changing technology and business organizations on contemporary social structures.
Animal behaviour is a central topic of zoology, and with the development of ideas concerning the role of genes as well as environment the subject has been transformed. Tristram Wyatt gives a modern view, including a sense of the power of gene knock-outs, computing, and image analysis to enable detailed experiments and observations of behaviour.
This Very Short Introduction explains how organisms can 'know' the time and reveals what we now understand of the nature and operation of chronobiological processes. Covering variables such as light, the metabolism, human health, and the seasons, Foster and Kreitzman illustrate how jet lag and shift work can impact on human well-being.
In this Very Short introduction Paul Palmer looks at the structure and basic physics and chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere, comparing it to the atmospheres of other planets, particularly our neighbours, Venus and Mars. Palmer looks at the effects of pollutants and climate change, and what may happen to our atmosphere in the future.
Can we ever truly influence, predict, and direct our own futures? Are there multiple futures or only one awaiting us? Jennifer Gidley explains our innate fascination with the unknown future, and considers the role of the human consciousness in embracing multiple future possibilities, and creating a world of our choices.
Ian Stewart considers the concept of infinity and the profound role it plays in mathematics, logic, physics, cosmology, and philosophy. He shows that working with infinity is not just an abstract, intellectual exercise, and analyses its important practical everyday applications.
Organic chemistry concerns the properties and synthesis of carbon-based molecules. Carbon atoms can concatenate into long chains and cyclic compounds, bonding with a variety of other elements, so the possible structures are almost limitless. Graham Patrick explores the world of organic chemistry and its wide applications.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the most important finds in biblical archaeology, and have profound implications for our understanding of Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Timothy Lim discusses the leading interpretations of the scrolls, and how they have changed the way we understand the emergence of the Old Testament.
The Habsburg Empire reached at various times across most of Europe and the New World. At all the critical moments of European history it is there - confronting Luther, launching the Thirty Years War, repelling the Ottomans, and taking on Napoleon. Martin Rady introduces the fascinating and colourful history of the Habsburgs.
Since the end of the Cold war, the international security agenda has become increasingly important. This Very Short Introduction considers traditional topics such as war and peace, military strategy and nuclear weapons, alongside other issues such as climate change, international migration, poverty, and international terrorism.