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.
Known as the 'father' of electrical engineering, Michael Faraday is one of the best known scientific figures of all time. In this Very Short Introduction, Frank A.J.L James looks at Faraday's life and works, examining the institutional context in which he lived and worked, his scientific research, and his continuing legacy in science today.
This Very Short Introduction presents Martin Luther as historians now see him. Instead of singling him out as a modern hero, the book emphasizes the context in which Luther worked, the colleagues who supported him, and the opponents who adamantly opposed his agenda for change.
Despite secular trends in many western countries, religion continues to be a powerful force globally. The Pentecostal movement began early in the 20th century and there are now almost 450 million supporters around the world. Despite this, it is riddled with prejudice and misinformation. William K. Kay reveals the truth about Pentecostalism.
What is agnosticism? Is it a belief, or just the absence of belief? What is the 'agnostic' principle? Robin Le Poidevin takes a philosophical approach to the issue of agnosticism, challenging some of the common assumptions, arguing in favour of the agnostic attitude, and considering its place in society and education.
Cancer is a problem that touches virtually everyone either directly or indirectly. As one of the biggest killers in the Western world it is feared by many people. In this Very Short Introduction, Nick James examines the trends and treatment of cancer, looking at efforts to develop treatments, research into cures, and the future of cancer care.
In this lively discussion Kim Reynolds looks at what children's literature is, why it is interesting, how it contributes to culture, and how it is studied as literature. Providing examples from across history and various types of children's literature, she introduces the key debates, developments, and people involved.
Lawrence M. Principe takes a fresh approach to the story of the scientific revolution, emphasising the historical context of the society and its world view at the time. From astronomy to alchemy and medicine to geology, he tells this fascinating story from the perspective of the historical characters involved.
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.
In this Very Short Introduction D. Stephen Long examines the sources, history and contemporary theorists involved in the study of Christian ethics. Using examples of specific practical matters such as sex, money, and power, Long argues that Christian ethics are the cultivation of practical wisdom that comes from many diverse sources.
Michael Ferber considers Romanticism in its time of growth in Western Europe, examining various types of Romantic literature, music, painting, religion, and philosophy. He provides examples and quotations throughout to demonstrate the diverse nature of the movement.
Advertising is riddled with myths and misunderstandings. It is believed to be both immensely powerful yet immensely wasteful, to increase economic prosperity and to be morally questionable. Neither its historic origins nor its modern operations are well understood. This Very Short Introduction will tell the truth about how advertising works.
German philosophy remains the core of modern philosophy. This Very Short Introduction discusses the idea that German philosophy forms one of the most revealing responses to the problems of modernity. Including many significant German philosophers, and other more neglected thinkers, he provides an insight into German philosophical traditions.
In this fresh and clear history of Protestantism, Mark A. Noll looks at the era from Martin Luther to the present day. Focussing on developments worldwide and including a range of well-known figures including Luther, John Calvin, and F.D.E Schleiermacher, he considers the recent decline of Protestantism in the West and its expansion elsewhere.
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.
Landscapes are all around us, but most of us know very little about how they have developed, what goes on in them, and how they react to changing climates, tectonics, and human activities. This Very Short Introduction discusses the key ideas and methods used to study and examine landscapes, and their importance in cultural terms.
Newton's contributions to an understanding of the heavens and the earth are considered to be unparalleled. This very short introduction explains his scientific theories, and uses Newton's unpublished writings to paint a picture of an extremely complex man whose beliefs had a huge impact on Europe's political, intellectual, and religious landscape.
What does U.S. history look like with women at the center of the story? From Pocahantas to military women serving in the Iraqi war, this Very Short Introduction chronicles the contributions that women have made to the American experience from a multicultural perspective that emphasizes how gender shapes women's-and men's-lives.
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.
Lie detection, offender profiling, insanity in the law, the minds of serial killers, and many other topics that fill news and fiction are all aspects of the rapidly developing area of Forensic Psychology. David Canter shows how these often controversial topics bridge the gaps between academics and practitioners, behavioural sciences, and the law.
Luciano Floridi unpacks this fundamental concept - what information is, how it is measured, its value and meaning - cutting across the sciences and humanities, from DNA to the Internet, and the ethical issues related to privacy, copyright, and accessibility.
The collapse of communism was one of the most defining moments of the twentieth century. This Very Short Introduction examines the history behind the political, economic, and social structures of communism as an ideology.
Humour is a universal feature of human life. In this Very Short Introduction Noel Carroll considers the nature and value of humour, from its leading theories and its relation to emotion and cognition, to ethical questions of its morality and its significance in shaping society.
What is humanism? Can there be morality without God? Without religion, are our lives left without meaning? Stephen Law considers all these questions in this Very Short Introduction. Discussing the arguments for and against religious belief, and examining the value and meaning of life, he explores humanism as a positive alternative to religion.
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.
David Seed examines how science fiction has emerged as a popular genre of literature in the 20th century, and discusses it in relation to themes such as science and technology, space, aliens, utopias, and gender. Looking at some of the most influential writers of the genre he also considers the wider social and political issues it raises.
What is depression? What is bipolar disorder? How are they diagnosed and how are they treated? This Very Short Introduction gives a history of these two disorders and considers how they are experienced and understood today. Scott and Tacchi also discuss how mood disorders can influence creativity.
This Very Short Introduction adapts Clausewitz's framework to highlight the dynamic relationship between the main elements of strategy: purpose, method, and means. Drawing on historical examples, Echevarria discusses the major types of military strategy and how emerging technologies are affecting them.
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.
We have all wondered about the meaning of life. Is there an answer? Is it up to us? Or is the question a bogus one? Terry Eagleton takes a witty, stimulating look at this most compelling of questions - and proposes his own answer.
Biographies are one of the most popular and best-selling of the literary genres. Why do people like them? What does a biography do and how does it work? This Very Short Introduction examines different types of biographies, why certain people and historical events arouse so much interest, and how they are compared with history and fiction.
The Druids have been known and discussed for over 2,000 years; few figures flit so elusively through history. Enigmatic and puzzling, the lack of knowledge about them has resulted in a wide spectrum of interpretations. Barry Cunliffe examines their origins, the evidence for their beliefs and practices, and how we interpret them today.
Superconductivity is one of the most exciting areas of research in physics today. Outlining the history of its discovery, and the race to understand its many mysterious phenomena, this Very Short Introduction also explores the deep implications of the theory, and its potential to revolutionize the physics and technology of the future.
Epidemiology is the study of the changing patterns of disease. It is a vital field, central to the health of society, to the identification of causes of disease, and to their management and prevention. This Very Short Introduction dispels some of the myths relating to clinical trials, vaccination campaigns, and statistics concerning disease.
How did Islam arise from the obscurity of seventh century Arabia to the headlines of the twenty first century? This Very Short Introduction answers that question; exploring the cultural and religious diversity of Islamic history. Adam Silverstein explains its significance and considers its impact on Islamic society today.
Has multiculturalism failed? Is it time to move on? What is the alternative? Ali Rattansi explores the issues, from national identity and social cohesion to cultural fragmentation and 'political correctness'. Providing a balanced assessment of the truth and falsity of the charges against multiculturalism, he explores new ideas for the future.
The time known as Late Antiquity (c.300-c.800) was a fascinatingly diverse and important period which saw the 'Fall of Rome' and the growth of Christianity and Islam. Gillian Clark explores its historical controversies, introducing the main characters and themes, and demonstrating the transition between the medieval and ancient.
What are angels? Where were they first encountered? Can we distinguish angels from gods, fairies, ghosts, and aliens? And why do they remain so popular? This Very Short Introduction investigates stories and speculations about angels in religions old and new, in art, literature, film, and the popular imagination.
Fashion is a global industry, and plays a role in our economic, political, cultural, and social lives. However, fashion is often denigrated as trivial and superficial, a sign of vanity and narcissism. This Very Short Introduction will give a clear understanding of how fashion has developed while addressing these divergent views.
Interest in Buddhist thought has grown dramatically, and with it, the desire to understand where Buddhism stands on a range of contemporary ethical questions, which have not been traditionally addressed. This work examines issues including animal rights, the environment, abortion, and cloning, from a Buddhist perspective.
Explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, bringing together philosophy, art theory, and many examples. This work discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, sex, web sites, and research on the brain's role in perceiving art. It is suitable for the public, introductory students, and teachers in the arts.
Engles' was not only the father of dialectical and historical materialism, the official philosophies of history and science in many communist countries; he was also the first Marxist historian, anthropologist, philosopher, and commentator on early Marx. This introductory book explores the importance of Engels's thought and work.
This Very Short Introduction aims to disentangle the 'real' Marquis de Sade from his mythical and demonic reputation of the past two hundred years. Phillips examines Sade's life and work: his libertine novels, his championing of atheism, and his uniqueness in bringing the body and sex back into philosophy.
Examines various aspects of ancient warfare from philosophy to the technical skills needed to fight. This work looks at war in a wider context and explores the ways in which ancient society thought about conflict: can a war be just? Why was siege warfare particularly bloody? What role did divine intervention play in the outcome of a battle?
What do anarchists want? Can anarchy ever function effectively as a political force? Is anarchism more 'organized' and 'reasonable' than is currently perceived? Colin Ward explains what anarchism means and who anarchists are in this illuminating and accessible introduction to the subject.
Leofranc Holford-Strevens explores time measurement and the organisation of time into hours, days, months and years using a range of fascinating examples from Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar's Leap Year, to the 1920s' project for a fixed Easter.
Hieroglyphs were far more than a language. They were an omnipresent and all-powerful force in communicating the messages of ancient Egyptian culture for over three thousand years. This work explores the cultural significance of the script and looks at areas such as cryptography and the decipherment into modern times.