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.
Mao Zedong was a giant of 20th century history. In this Very Short Introduction, Delia Davin provides an account of Mao the man. From his childhood as a peasant to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth, she considers the major events in his life, his revolutionary writing, and his utopian dreams that culminated in the Cultural Revolution.
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.
With a decline in traditional religious belief, interest in spirituality has grown hugely in Western cultures. The notion of spirituality expresses the fact that many people are driven by goals that concern more than material satisfaction. Philip Sheldrake explores the historical foundations of spirituality and considers how it transforms lives.
In this Very Short Introduction, Kenneth Morgan provides a wide-ranging and thematic introduction to modern Australia; examining the main features of its history, geography, and culture and drawing attention to the distinctive features of Australian life and its indigenous population and culture.
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.
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.
Molecular biology has revolutionized our understanding of animals and their evolution. In this Very Short Introduction, Peter Holland provides an authoritative summary of the modern view of animal life, its origins, and the new classification resulting from DNA studies.
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.
'What is real?' has been one of the key questions of philosophy since its beginning in antiquity. But it is not just a question that philosophers ask. This Very Short Introduction discusses what reality is by looking at a variety of arguments, theories, and thought-experiments from philosophy, physics, and cognitive science.
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.
The gap between the rich and the poor can be vast. Robert C. Allen considers the main factors that contribute to this gap, looking at the interconnections between economic growth, culture, technology, and income distribution. Exploring the historical processes that have created the unequal world of today, he takes a global look at wealth worldwide.
In this Very Short Introduction, Jacqueline Stedall explores the rich historical and cultural diversity of mathematical endeavour from the distant past to the present day, using illustrative case studies drawn from a range of times and places; including early imperial China, the medieval Islamic world, and nineteenth-century Britain.
The development of a single fertilized egg into a fly, an elephant, or a human baby is one the most remarkable near-miracles achieved by nature. This Very Short Introduction, written by the distinguished developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert, gives a concise account of, and explores, one of the liveliest areas of scientific research.
What is that strange and mysterious force that pulls one magnet towards another, yet seems to operate through empty space? This is the elusive force of magnetism. In this Very Short Introduction Stephen J. Blundell considers early theories of magnetism, the discovery that Earth is a magnet, and the importance of magnetism in modern technology.
A highly stimulating Very Short Introduction to the history of Ancient Greek civilization, from the first documented use of the Greek language in about 1400 BCE, through the glories of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, to the foundation of the Byzantine empire in about CE 330.
With a broad scope across the millennia, from high literature to popular culture, between page and stage and screen, this Very Short Introduction considers comedy not only as a literary genre, but also as a broader impulse at work in many other historical and contemporary forms of satire, parody, and play.
In this Very Short Introduction, Katherine Blundell looks at the seemingly paradoxical, mysterious, and intriguing phenomena of astrophysical black holes. Outlining what a black hole actually is and how they are characterised, she separates the scientific fact from science fiction, and demonstrates the interesting role they play in the cosmos.
Stars are a constant source of fascination. In this Very Short Introduction Andrew King introduces us to the science of stars; how they are born, how they live, and how they die. He shows how understanding the stars is the key to understanding the galaxies they inhabit, and how they provide us with clues to the existence of planets like our own.
There is much public interest in stem cells, but also much confusion and misinformation. In this Very Short Introduction, developmental biologist Jonathan Slack explains the biology behind stem cells; what they are, what scientists do with them, what stem cell therapies are available today, and what can be expected to happen in the future.
The British Empire influenced many aspects of the world we live in today. The international system remains heavily marked by British imperialism, and the borders, nations, and federations it created. This Very Short Introduction introduces and defines the British Empire, reviewing how it evolved into such a force, and the legacy it left behind.
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 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.
Madness is something that frightens and fascinates us all. It is a word with which we are universally familiar, and a condition that haunts the human imagination. In this Very Short Introduction, Andrew Scull examines the social, historical and culturally variable responses to madness over the centuries.
In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Maslin looks at all aspects of climate, from the physical and chemical factors that drive it and how climate differs from weather, to how climate has affected human settlements and the cyclic features of it. He ends with a look at climate change and our current approaches to solving it.
Borders: A Very Short Introduction offers insights into the form and function of historical and contemporary political and social boundaries. The authors show how and why borders have been, are currently, and will undoubtedly remain controversial topics and at the forefront of global headlines for years to come.
What does Tibetan Buddhism teach? Just what is the position of the Dalai Lama, and how will his succession be assured? This Very Short Introduction offers a brief account responding to these questions and more, in terms that are easily accessible to those who are curious to learn the most essential features of Tibetan Buddhist history, teachings, and practice.
Fascism is notoriously hard to define. In the new edition of this Very Short Introduction, Kevin Passmore unravels the paradoxes of one of the most important phenomena in the modern world, to make sense of its ideology and place in the modern world.
In this new edition of the Very Short Introduction to Journalism, Ian Hargreaves considers the role and place of journalism in our constantly evolving digital world. Exploring issues relating to privacy, democracy, the entertainment industry, and global social media, Hargreaves explores the shape and influence of journalism in years to come.
Corruption one of the biggest issues facing the contemporary international community. In this Very Short Introduction, Leslie Holmes explores the problem - how it is defined, the impact it has on society, politics, and the economy, its various causes - and considers how we might deal with it globally.
Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction offers insights into theories about the nature of language and meaning, human identity, and the power of language. Fully updated for 2011 and including a new chapter on 'Ethics and aesthetics', it steers a clear and lucid path through an often impenetrable subject.
Radioactivity - the breakdown of unstable atomic nuclei, releasing radiation - is a fundamental process in nature, and used to provide important applications in science, medicine, and energy production. But it remains misunderstood and feared. In this Very Short Introduction, Claudio Tuniz explains the nature and mechanisms of radioactivity.
In this Very Short Introduction, Philip Mladenov provides a fascinating overview of marine biology. Including a tour of marine life and marine processes that ranges from the polar oceans to tropical coral reefs, he outlines the principles of marine biology whilst demonstrating the fundamental impact humans have on the oceans and their ecology.
Robotics is a key technology in the modern world. Yet, despite these successes, robots have failed to live up to the predictions of the 1950s and 60s. In this Very Short Introduction, Alan Winfield considers how robotics can be both a success story and a disappointment, and how robots can be both ordinary and quite remarkable.
The Middle Ages (c.500-1500) includes a thousand years of European history. In this Very Short Introduction Miri Rubin tells the story of the times through the people and their lifestyles. Including stories of kingship and Christian salvation, agriculture and trade, Rubin demonstrates the remarkable nature and legacy of the Middle Ages.
Katherine Hawley explores the key ideas about trust in this Very Short Introduction. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines including philosophy, psychology, and evolutionary biology, she emphasizes the nature and importance of trusting and being trusted, from our intimate bonds with significant others to our relationship with the state.
Antarctica attracts great interest from political leaders, journalists, and public audiences around the world. In this Very Short Introduction, Klaus Dodds presents a modern account of Antarctica, looking closely at contemporary developments in commerce, science, sovreignty, and governance.
The British constitution has grown organically in response to changes in its economic, political, and social environment, and is not contained in a single authoritative text. In this Very Short Introduction, Martin Loughlin examines the nature and authority of the constitution, and its challenging prospects for the future.
Work is deeply embedded in the moral and political character of most societies. For many, work becomes fused with our personal and social identities - who we are and how we define ourselves. Steve Fineman explores the key debates about work and the factors that affect it including topics such as globalization, feminism, and technology.
In this Very Short Introduction, Thomas Forrest Kelly frames chapters on the forms, techniques, and repertories of the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods with discussion of why old music has been and should be revived, along with a short history of early music revivals.
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.
In this Very Short Introduction, the eminent scholar Gerhard L. Weinberg explores one of the most important events in history. Examining the origins, course, and impact of the World War II - through both the soldiers and the ordinary citizens who lived through it - he considers the long-lasting impact it continues to have around the world.
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.
In this Very Short Introduction Benjamin Bolker and Marta L. Wayne explore the world of infectious disease, from viruses and bacteria to protists and fungi. Taking an ecological and evolutionary viewpoint, they use case studies to explore how outbreaks are managed and how newly emergent strains might be controlled.
In this essential guide for students of chemistry, Peter Atkins' Very Short Introduction explains the principles and phenomena of physical chemistry. Using few formulas, Atkins shows how physical chemistry draws its ideas from physics, quantum mechanics, and mathematics, and how it has contributed to our understanding of the natural world.
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.
The rise of psychotherapy has been one of the defining features of the 20th century. In this Very Short Introduction, Tom Burns and Eva Burns-Lundgren trace the development of psychotherapy and counselling, from its origins in Freud's psychoanalysis to the variety of different approaches on offer today.