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.
The weather affects everyone on Earth, influencing both our day-to-day decisions and long term plans for leisure and work. But the Earth's weather systems are extremely complex, and conditions and events may have an effect 'half a world away'. Storm Dunlop explores the processes at work behind our daily weather.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who or what is God? In this Very Short Introduction John Bowker considers questions like these. Exploring how the major religions interpret the idea of God, and have established their own distinctive beliefs about God's existence, Bowker shows how and why our understanding of God continues to evolve.
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.
Forensic science, with its connections to crime and detective work, is a subject of wide fascination. This Very Short Introduction looks at the nature of forensic science, how forensic scientists work, the different techniques involved, and the broader legal 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.
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.
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.
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.