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.
Organization happens in the act of working with others to accomplish a desired future state. It can happen through intentionally designed activity, spontaneous improvisation, or some combination of the two, but it always requires coordinated effort. This Very Short Introduction provides a lively and thought provoking introduction to the topic.
What do anaesthetists do? How do anaesthetics work? What are the risks? And how does the anaesthetist know if you are really asleep? Anaesthesia is a mysterious and sometimes threatening process. In this Very Short Introduction, Aidan O'Donnell takes the reader on a tour through the whole of the modern anaesthetic practice.
Nuclear power is a highly topical issue and there is widespread debate concerning future energy budgets and how to replace our dependence on fossil fuels. Here, Maxwell Irvine provides an introduction to the nature of nuclear energy, looking at the risks, the relevance of nuclear power, and the potential of nuclear fusion.
Martyrdom is a controversial topic, with a long history of provoking fierce debate. In this Very Short Introduction Jolyon Mitchell provides a historical analysis to understand the contemporary debates surrounding martyrdom. Using examples from a variety of contexts around the world, he explores how it has evolved, and what it means today.
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.
From the schools of ancient times to the present day, Gary Thomas looks at how and why education evolved as it has. By exploring some of the big questions, he examines the ways in which schools work, considers the differences around the world, and concludes by considering the future of education worldwide.
This Very Short Introduction tracks child development from birth to early adolescence. Exploring the process of attachment and psychological relationships, as well as methods of active learning, including language and reasoning, Usha Goshwami explains how children develop as they do and how we can understand developmental differences.
Society's attitudes to rhetoric are often very negative. Here, Richard Toye provides an engaging, historically informed introduction to rhetoric, from Ancient Greece to the present day. Wide-ranging in its scope, this Very Short Introduction is the essential starting point for understanding the art of persuasion.
Symmetry is an immensely important concept in mathematics and throughout the sciences. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Stewart highlights the deep implications of symmetry and its important scientific applications across the entire subject.
The modern concept of peace has broadened from the mere absence of violence to something much more sophisticated, incorporating terms such as 'peacemaking' and 'conflict resolution'. In this Very Short Introduction, Oliver Richmond explores the evolution of peace in practice and in theory, considering our modern assumptions about peace.
In this Very Short Introduction, John Hendry provides a lively introduction to the nature and principles of management. Tracing its development over the past century, Hendry looks not only at the jobs managers do today and their place in the culture of work, but also provides an insight into modern management theory.
In this easy-to-understand introduction, Stephen Mumford explores one of the four main branches of philosophy: metaphysics. Using practical examples to explore the main issues, he presents the ideas in a clear and simple way, helping to clarify and unravel the basic questions of this complex and abstract concept.
The explorations of archaeology encompass the whole globe, survey 2.5 million years, and range from deserts to jungles, from deep caves to mountain tops, and from pebble tools to GPS. Its efforts to reconstruct and understand the past do not fail to fascinate us. Paul Bahn explores the importance of archaeology in this entertaining introduction.
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.
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, Paul Slack explores the historical impact of plague over the centuries. Looking at the ways in which it has been interpreted, and the powerful images it has left behind in art and literature, he considers how it was fought and controlled, and the impact it had on our modern notions of public health.
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.
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.
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 lively Very Short Introduction, Tim Bayne looks at the nature of thought. Exploring questions such as 'What are thoughts?' and 'How is thought realized in the brain?', he draws on research in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology to look at what we know - and don't know - about the capacity for thought.
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 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.
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.
Objectivity is both an essential and elusive philosophical concept. This Very Short Introduction explores the theoretical and practical problems raised by objectivity, and also deals with the way in which particular understandings of objectivity impinge on social research, science, and art.
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.
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.
In this Very Short Introduction, David Ford provides a balanced survey, for both believers and non-believers, to the central questions of contemporary theology. In this new edition, Ford includes updates to a number of areas, including theology between faiths, theological responses to science, and the effect of globalization and technology.