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.
Addresses question such as: how did Darwin use fossils to support his theory of evolution? What are 'living fossils'? Building on the scientific aspects, this book places fossils in a human context, highlighting their impact on philosophy, mythology, our concept of time, and popular culture. It provides an explanation of fossils as a phenomenon.
An account of the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, from ancient Greece and Rome through the American, French, and Russian revolutions, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world. This book argues that democracy is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for good governance.
In simple language, without mathematics, this book explains the strange and exciting ideas that make the subatomic world so different from the world of the every day. It offers the general reader access to one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics and one of the oustanding intellectual achievements of the twentieth century.
Interest in citizenship has never been higher. But what does it mean to be a citizen in a modern, complex community? Richard Bellamy approaches the subject of citizenship from a political perspective and, in clear and accessible language, addresses the complexities behind this highly topical issue.
Explores the range of media employed by both Dada and Surrealism, whilst at the same time establishing the aesthetic differences between the movements. This book also examines the Dadaist obsession with the body-as-mechanism in relation to the Surrealists' return to the fetishized/eroticized body.
The Celts have long been a subject of enormous fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. This title seeks to reveal this fascinating people, exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions, and examining such characters as St Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.
Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.
Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Camus were some of the most important existentialist thinkers. This book provides an account of the existentialist movement, and of the themes of individuality, free will, and personal responsibility which make it a 'philosophy as a way of life'.
What is socialism? Does it have a future, or has it become an outdated ideology in the 21st century? Michael Newman examines and explains the successes and failures of modern socialism, taking an international perspective, and discussing its evolution from the 19th century to the present day.
Racism exists in many different forms, in almost every facet of society. This book demystifies the subject and explores its history, science, and culture. Shedding light on how racism has evolved since its earliest beginnings, it examines the notion of race from a modern genetic viewpoint.
The Viking reputation is of bloodthirsty seafaring warriors. Yet Vikings were also traders, settlers, and farmers, with a complex artistic and linguistic culture. Using archaeological evidence, this book attempts to reveal the whole Viking world: their history, society and culture, and their expansion overseas for trade, colonization, and plunder.
The WTO has a deep and far reaching impact on people's everyday lives, and in its short lifetime has generated debate, controversy and outrage. This VSI provides an essential and accessible explanation of the political, economic, and ethical controversies: What the WTO is, what it does, and whether it works.
What is 'contemporary' about contemporary art? Who is really running the art world? This controversial and witty exploration of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the art world since the fall of the Berlin Wall provides a critical look at the reasons for the current art boom, and reveals the politics behind the business.
In this Very Short Introduction Terence Allen introduces the reader to the full spectrum of microscopy techniques and advances. Explaining the history of microscopic techniques, development, principles, and recent technological advances, this is an ideal introduction for anyone studying the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering.
In 336 BC Alexander the Great became king of Macedon. During his twelve-year reign he conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the largest to have yet existed, and in the process had a profound effect on the world he moved through. In this examination of his life and career, Hugh Bowden explores his cultural and historical legacy.
What are our human rights? What are their philosophical justifications and historical origins? Focusing on highly topical issues such as torture, arbitrary detention, privacy, and discrimination, this Very Short Introduction discusses the controversies and complexities behind these vitally relevant issues.
Forests have been entwined with human development and cultural history for centuries. In this Very Short Introduction Jaboury Ghazoul explores their origins, dynamics, and the range of goods and services they provide to human society, as well as looking at issues of deforestation, reforestation, and the effects of climate change.
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.
An understanding of the structure and function of the human body is vital for anyone studying the medical and health sciences. In this Very Short Introduction Leslie Klenerman provides a clear and accessible overview of the main systems of the human anatomy, illustrated with a number of clear explanatory diagrams.
This Very Short Introduction explores the science of sound and its nature, hearing and harmony. Considering sound we can't hear, the author also covers different sound worlds, as well as noise and its reduction.
Focusing on dreaming to explain the mechanisms of sleep, the author explores how the new science of dreaming affects theories in psychoanalysis, and how it is helps the understanding of the causes of mental illness. He investigates his own dreams to illustrate and explain some of the discoveries of modern sleep science.
Focuses on the philosophy and argument of Plato's writings, drawing the reader into Plato's way of doing philosophy and the general themes of his thinking. This work discusses his style of writing: his use of the dialogue form, his use of what we call fiction, and his philosophical transformation of myths.
Although the great historic imperial systems have collapsed during the past, their legacies shape almost every aspect of life on a global scale. What has replaced the old territorial empires in world politics? Do the United States and its allies - the forces of 'globalization', constitute a new imperial system?
Presenting an introduction to ethics, this work tackles the moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire, and freedom. It also shows us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates.
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.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55), one of the original thinkers of the nineteenth century, wrote on religious, psychological, and literary themes. This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. It provides an introduction by showing how Kiekegaard has influenced contemporary thought.
Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) is acknowledged to be a great writer on war. Even though he wrote his work at a time when the range of firearms was fifty yards, much of what he had to say remains relevant. This book explains his ideas in terms of his experiences as a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, and of the intellectual background of his time.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) is one of the most famous and important philosophers of the twentieth century. In this account of his life and work A. C. Grayling introduces both his technical contributions to logic and philosophy, and his wide-ranging views on education, politics, war, and sexual morality.
Schopenhauer is the most readable of German philosophers. This book gives a succinct explanation of Schopenhauer's metaphysical system, concentrating on the original aspects of thought which inspired thinkers such as Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud, and Wittgenstein. It aims to reveal him as a challenging, progressive, and highly influential thinker.
Ideology is one of the most controversial terms in the political vocabulary, inciting both revulsion and inspiration. This book explains why ideologies deserve respect as a major form of political thinking, without which we cannot make sense of the political world. It also explores the changing understandings of ideology as a concept.
As well as being a remarkable statesman, Nelson Mandela has become a universal symbol of justice, a secular saint. Elleke Boehmer examines not only the great anti-apartheid leader's life, but also the ways in which images and representations have been used to create the Mandela we know today - an internationally recognized icon of freedom.
This book explores what it means to be rational in a variety of contexts, from personal decisions to those affecting large groups of people. It introduces ideas from economics, philosophy, and other areas, showing how the theory applies to particular situations such as gambling and the allocation of resources.