Jennifer Roberts introduces the background and writing of the 5th century Greek thinker and researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who invented the genre of historical investigation. She discusses all aspects of his work, including his fascination with his origins; his travels; his interest in seeing the world; and the recurring themes of his work.
Risk is everywhere - from genetically modified crops, dams, and stem-cell therapy to heartbreak, online predators, inflation, and robbery. This Very Short Introduction examines what science has learned about how people deal with risks, what we can learn through decision theory, and how we can evaluate risk in our own lives.
Civil engineering produces the structures of all human settlements worldwide. In this Very Short Introduction, David Muir Wood demonstrates the nature and importance of civil engineering; not only in the history of civilization and urbanization, but its range of facets today, and its challenges for the future.
Engineering is part of almost everything we do - from the water we drink and the food we eat, to the buildings we live in and the roads and railways we travel on. In this Very Short Introduction, David Blockley explores the nature and practice of engineering, its history, its scope, and its relationship with art, science, and technology.
In this Very Short Introduction, Terence Allen and Graham Cowling describe the nature of cells - their basic structure, their varying forms, their division, their differentiation, their signalling, and programmed death. Cells are the basic constituent of life, and understanding cells and how they work is central to all biology and medicine.
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.
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.
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.
What is leadership? Are leaders born or bred? How do leaders lead? In this Very Short Introduction, Keith Grint considers these questions, prompting the reader to rethink their understanding of what leadership is. He examines the way leadership has evolved over time and explores how it is perceived, and used, in society today.
Among the many laws of science, there are four laws that direct and constrain everything that happens in the Universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the unfurling of a leaf they help us understand the course of life itself. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Atkins' explains what the four laws are and how they work.
There are many debates about utopia - What constitutes a utopia? Are utopias benign or dangerous? The idea of utopia has become commonplace in social and political thought, both negatively and positively. This Very Short Introduction explores utopianism, its history, and its role in modern debates.
This Very Short Introduction discusses the nature of planets and gas giants, and their rings and moons. It also looks beyond Pluto, in the Kuiper Belt, at the knowledge we have about planets around other stars. With many striking photos to illustrate the details, it demonstrates the unique world of every planet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Theatre is one of the longest-standing art forms of modern civilization. Taking a global look at how various forms of theatre - including puppetry, dance, and mime - have been interpreted and enjoyed, this Very Short Introduction explores all aspects of the theatre, including its relationship with religion, literature, and its value worldwide.