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Books in the series: Very Short Introductions

British Cinema: A Very Short Introduction

British Cinema: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Charles Barr Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Cinema has had a hugely influential role on global culture in the 20th century at multiple levels: social, political, and educational. The part of British cinema in this has been controversial - often derided as a whole, but also vigorously celebrated, especially in terms of specific films and film-makers. In this Very Short Introduction, Charles Barr considers films and filmmakers, and studios and sponsorship, against the wider view of changing artistic, socio-political, and industrial climates over the decades of the 20th Century. Considering British cinema in the wake of one of the most familiar of cinematic reference points - Alfred Hitchcock - Barr traces how British cinema has developed its own unique path, and has since been celebrated for its innovative approaches and distinctive artistic language. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction

Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction

Very Short Introductions: Brilliant, Sharp, Inspiring Anchored in the principles of free-market economics, neoliberalism emerged in the 1990s as the world's most dominant economic paradigm. It has been associated with various political leaders from Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Bill Clinton, to Tony Blair, Barack Obama, and Manmohan Singh. Neoliberalism even penetrated deeply into communist China's powerful economic system. However, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the related European Sovereign Debt Crisis triggered a decade of economic volatility and insecurity that boosted the fortunes of the 1 per cent while saddling the 99 per cent with stagnant wages and precarious work. As a result of this Great Recession, neoliberalism fortunes have waned considerably. This downward trend further accelerated with the recent surge of national populism around the world that brought to power outspoken critics of neoliberalism like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro, and Narendra Modi. Is neoliberalism doomed or will it regain its former glory? And what are the major types of neoliberalism, and how did they evolve over the decades? Responding to these crucial questions, this Very Short introduction explores the considerable variations of neoliberalism around the world, and discusses the origins, evolution, and core ideas of neoliberalism. This new edition brings the story of neoliberalism up to date, and asks whether new versions of neoliberalism might succeed in drowning out the rising tide of national populism and its nostalgic longing for a return to territorial sovereignty and national greatness. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction

Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Julian Stallabrass Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/12/2020

Contemporary art has never been so popular - but the art world is changing. In a landscape of increasing globalization there is growing interest in questions over the nature of contemporary art today, and the identity of who is controlling its future. In the midst of this, contemporary art continues to be a realm of freedom where artists shock, break taboos, flout generally received ideas, and switch between confronting viewers with works of great emotional profundity and jaw-dropping triviality. In this Very Short Introduction Julian Stallabrass gives a clear view on the diverse and rapidly moving scene of contemporary art. Exploring art's striking globalisation from the 1990s onwards, he analyses how new regions and nations, such as China, have leapt into astonishing prominence, over-turning the old Euro-American dominance on aesthetics. Showing how contemporary art has drawn closer to fashion and the luxury goods market as artists have become accomplished marketers of their work, Stallabrass discusses the reinvention of artists as brands. This new edition also considers how once powerful art criticism has mutated into a critical and performative writing at which many artists excel. Above all, behind the insistent rhetoric of freedom and ambiguity in art, Stallabrass explores how big business and the super-rich have replaced the state as the primary movers of the contemporary art scene, especially since the financial crisis, and become a powerful new influence over the art world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The American South

The American South

The American South is a distinctive place with a dramatic history, and has significance beyond its regional context in the twenty first century. The American South: A Very Short Introduction explores the history of the South as a cultural crossroads, a meeting place between western Europe and West Africa. The South's beginnings illuminate the expansion of Europe into the New World, creating a colonial slave society that distinguished it from other parts of the United States but fostered commonalities with other colonial societies. The Civil War and civil rights movement transformed the South in differing ways and remain a part of a vibrant and contested public memory. More recently, the South's pronounced traditionalism in customs and values was in tension with the forces of modernization that slowly forced change in the twentieth century. Southerners' creative responses to these experiences have made the American South well known around the world in literature, film, music, and cuisine. Charles Reagan Wilson argues for the significance of creativity in the South, emerging from the diversity of peoples, cultures, and experiences that the regional context fostered. The South has now become the new center of immigration, adding to the complexity of the region's cultural, social, economic, and political life. In this book, the burdens and tragedies of southern history are placed beside the creative achievements that have come out of the region, producing a portrait of a complex American place.

The Maya: A Very Short Introduction

The Maya: A Very Short Introduction

The Maya forged one of the greatest societies in the history of the ancient Americas - and in all of human history. Long before contact with Europeans, Maya communities built spectacular cities with large, well-fed large populations. They mastered the visual arts, and developed a sophisticated writing system that recorded extraordinary knowledge in calendrics, mathematics, and astronomy. The Maya achieved all this without area-wide centralized control. There was never a single, unified Maya state or empire, but always numerous, evolving ethnic groups speaking dozens of distinct Mayan languages. The people we call Maya never thought of themselves as such; yet something definable, unique, and endlessly fascinating - what we call Maya culture - has clearly existed for millennia. So what was their self-identity and how did Maya civilization come to be invented? With the Maya historically subdivided and misunderstood in so many ways, the pursuit of what made them the Maya is all the more important. In this Very Short Introduction, Restall and Solari explore the themes of Maya identity, city-state political culture, art and architecture, the Maya concept of the cosmos, and the Maya experience of contact with - including invasion by - outsiders. Despite its brevity, this book is unique for its treatment of all periods of Maya civilization, from its origins to the present.

Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Religion plays a central role in human experience. Billions of people around the world practice a faith and act in accordance with it. Religion shapes how they enter the world and how they leave it - how they eat, dress, marry, and raise their children. It shapes their assumptions about who they are and who they want to be. Religion also identifies insiders and outsiders, who has power and who doesn't. It sanctifies injustice and combats it. It draws national borders. It affects law, economy, and government. It destroys and restores the environment. It starts wars and ends them. Whether you notice it or not, religion plays a role in how billions conduct their lives. We are called, then, to understand this important factor in human life today. Beginning with the first signs of religion among ancient humans and concluding with a look at modern citizens and global trends, leading scholar Thomas Tweed examines this powerful and enduring force in human society. Tweed deftly documents religion as it exists around the world, addressing its role in both intensifying and alleviating contemporary political and environmental problems, from armed conflict to climate change. Religion: A Very Short Introduction offers a concise non-partisan overview of religion's long history and its complicated role in the world today.

Volcanoes: A Very Short Introduction

Volcanoes: A Very Short Introduction

Volcanoes are some of the most dramatic expressions of the powerful tectonic forces at work in the Earth beneath our feet. But volcanism, a profoundly important feature of Earth, and indeed of other planets and moons too, encompasses much more than just volcanoes themselves. On a planetary scale, volcanism is an indispensable heat release mechanism, which on Earth allows the conditions for life. IIt releases gases into the atmosphere and produces enormous volumes of rock, and spectacular landscapes - landscapes which, during major eruptions, can be completely reshaped in a matter of hours. Through geological time volcanism has shaped both climate and biological evolution, and volcanoes can affect human life, too, for both good and ill. Yet, even after much study, some of the fundamental aspects of volcanicity remain mysterious. This Very Short Introduction takes the readers into the inferno of a racing pyroclastic current, and the heart of a moving lava flow, as understood through the latest scientific research. Exploring how volcanologists forensically decipher how volcanoes work, Michael Branney and Jan Zalasiewicz explain what we do (and don't) understood about the fundamental mechanisms of volcanism, and consider how volcanoes interact with other physical processes on the Earth, with life, and with human society. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Enzymes: A Very Short Introduction

Enzymes: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul (Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, University College Dublin) Engel Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/11/2020

Enzymes are the astonishing, tiny molecular machines that make life possible. Each one of these small proteins speeds up a single chemical reaction inside a living organism many millionfold. Working together, teams of enzymes carry out all the processes that collectively we recognise as life, from making DNA to digesting food. This Very Short Introduction explains the why and the how of speeding up these reactions - catalysis - before going on to reveal how we have evolved these catalysts of such extraordinary power and exquisite selectivity. Paul Engel shows how X-ray crystallography has revealed the complex molecular shapes that allow enzymes to function at an extraordinarily sophisticated level. He also examines medical aspects of enzymes, both in the way faulty enzymes cause disease and in the way enzymes can be used for diagnosis and therapy. Finally, he looks at the many varied ways in which individual enzymes, taken out of their biological context, are used nowadays as tools - in washing powders, food production, waste treatment, and chemical synthesis. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

City Planning: A Very Short Introduction

City Planning: A Very Short Introduction

City planning is a practice and a profession. It is also a set of goals and-sometimes utopian-aspirations. Formal thought about the shaping of cities as physical spaces and social environments calls on the same range of disciplines and approaches that we use for understanding cities themselves, from art and literature through the social and natural sciences. Surrounding the core profession of city planning, also known as urban or town planning, are related fields of architecture, landscape design, engineering, geography, political science and policy, sociology, and social work. In addition, the legions of community and environmental activists influence debates and controversies within the field. This Very Short Introduction is organized around eight key aspects of city planning: street layout; congestion and decentralization; the response to suburbanization; the conservation and regeneration of older districts; cities as natural systems; cities and regions; social class and ethnicity; and disasters and resilience. The underlying assumption throughout is that decisions that we make today about cities and metropolitan regions are best understood as the continuation of past efforts to solve fundamental problems that have shifted and evolved over multiple generations. At its best, city planning utilizes technical tools to achieve goals set by community action and political debate. Carl Abbott's addition to Oxford's long-running Very Short Introduction series is a brief but concentrated look at past decisions about the management of urban growth and their effects on the creation of the twenty-first century city.

American Military History: A Very Short Introduction

American Military History: A Very Short Introduction

Since the first English settlers landed at Jamestown with the legacy of centuries of European warfare in tow, the military has been an omnipresent part of America. In American Military History: A Very Short Introduction, Joseph T. Glatthaar explores this relationship from its origins in the thirteen colonies to today's ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. During the Revolutionary War, tension grew between local militias and a standing army. The Founding Fathers attempted to strike a balance, enshrining an army, navy, and a well-regulated Militia in the Constitution. The US soon witnessed the rise of a professional military, a boon to its successes in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. However, after the Civil War, the US struggled to learn that the purpose of a peacetime army is to prepare for war. When war did arrive, it arrived with a vengeance, gutting the trenches of the Great War with effective innovations: tanks, planes, machine guns, and poison gas. The US embraced the technology that would win both world wars and change the nature of battle in the Second World War. The US emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation in the war, but over the next several decades it was forced to confront the limits of its power. The nuclear era brought encounters defined by stalemate-from the Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 9/11, the US has been frustrated by unconventional warfare, including terrorism and cyberwar, largely negating the technological advantage it had held. Glatthaar examines all these challenges, looking to the future of the U.S. military and its often proud and complicated legacy.

Silent Film: A Very Short Introduction

Silent Film: A Very Short Introduction

Encompassing the thirty-five year span between the initial development of film technology in the mid-1890s and the adoption of synchronized sound in the late 1920s, the cinema's silent era is both one of the most important epochs of film history and one of the most misunderstood within the popular imagination. In this brief and readable account, these formative decades come vividly to life. Covering the full scope of the silent era-from the invention of motion pictures to the rise of the Hollywood studios-and touching on films and filmmakers from every corner of the globe, Silent Film: A Very Short Introduction offers a window into film's first years as a worldwide entertainment phenomenon. From groundbreaking early shorts to the masterpieces of the cinema's classical era, from street-corner nickelodeons to grand movie palaces, from slapstick to the avant-garde, the silent era's artistic abundance and global variety are here put on full display. In the story of silent film, we see not just the origins of a new culture industry but also a legacy of imagination and innovation that continues to profoundly influence the cinema even to this day. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The U.S. Civil War: A Very Short Introduction

The U.S. Civil War: A Very Short Introduction

More than one hundred and fifty years after the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter, the Civil War still captures the American imagination, and its reverberations can still be felt throughout America's social and political landscape. Louis P. Masur's The U.S. Civil War: A Very Short Introduction offers a masterful and eminently readable overview of the war's multiple causes and catastrophic effects. Masur begins by examining the complex origins of the war, focusing on the pulsating tensions over states rights and slavery. The book then proceeds to cover, year by year, the major political, social, and military events, highlighting two important themes: how the war shifted from a limited conflict to restore the Union to an all-out war that would fundamentally transform Southern society, and the process by which the war ultimately became a battle to abolish slavery. Masur explains how the war turned what had been a loose collection of fiercely independent states into a nation, remaking its political, cultural, and social institutions. But he also focuses on the soldiers themselves, both Union and Confederate, whose stories constitute nothing less than America's Iliad. In the final chapter Masur considers the aftermath of the South's surrender at Appomattox and the clash over the policies of reconstruction that continued to divide President and Congress, conservatives and radicals, Southerners and Northerners for years to come. In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley wrote that the war had wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character that the influence cannot be measured short of two or three generations. This concise history of the entire Civil War era offers an invaluable introduction to the dramatic events whose effects are still felt today.

Soft Matter: A Very Short Introduction

Soft Matter: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tom (FRS, Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of York) McLeish Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/10/2020

Soft Matter science is concerned with soft materials such as polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, and foams, and has emerged as a rich interdisciplinary field over the last 30 years. Drawing on physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering, soft matter links fundamental scientific ideas to everyday phenomena. One such example is 'polymers', encountered in plastic materials and melted cheese, which illustrate how 'sliminess' emerges from the flow and form of giant molecules. This Very Short Introduction delves into the field of soft matter, looking beneath the appearances of matter into its inner structure. Tom McLeish shows how Brownian Motion - the random local motion of molecules that gives rise to 'heat' - is an underlying principle of soft matter. From hair conditioner to honey, he discusses how the shared physical properties and characteristics of these materials influence the way they behave, and their industrial applications. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction

Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robert J.C. (New York University) Young Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/10/2020

Postcolonialism explores the political, social, and cultural effects of decolonization, continuing the anti-colonial deconstruction of western dominance. This Very Short Introduction discusses both the history and key debates of postcolonialism, and considers its importance as a means of changing the way we think about the world. Robert J. C. Young examines the key strategies that postcolonial thought has developed to engage with the impact of sometimes centuries of western political and cultural domination. Situating the discussion in a wide cultural and geographical context, he draws on examples such as the status of indigenous peoples, of those dispossessed from their land, Algerian rai music, and global social and ecological movements. In this new edition he also includes updated material on race, slavery, and postcolonial gender politics. Above all, Young argues that postcolonialism offers a political philosophy of activism that contests the current situation of global inequality, which in a new way continues the anti-colonial struggles of the past and enables us to decolonize our own lives in the present. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable

Ovid: A Very Short Introduction

Ovid: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Llewelyn (Professor of Classical Literature, University of Oxford) Morgan Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2020

Vivam is the very last word of Ovid's masterpiece, the Metamorphoses: I shall live. If we're still reading it two millennia after Ovid's death, this is by definition a remarkably accurate prophecy. Ovid was not the only ancient author with aspirations to be read for eternity, but no poet of the Greco-Roman world has had a deeper or more lasting impact on subsequent literature and art than he can claim. In the present day no Greek or Roman poet is as accessible, to artists, writers, or the general reader: Ovid's voice remains a compellingly contemporary one, as modern as it seemed to his contemporaries in Augustan Rome. But Ovid was also a man of his time, his own story fatally entwined with that of the first emperor Augustus, and the poetry he wrote channels in its own way the cultural and political upheavals of the contemporary city, its public life, sexual mores, religion, and urban landscape, while also exploiting the superbly rich store of poetic convention that Greek literature and his Roman predecessors had bequeathed to him. This Very Short Introduction explains Ovid's background, social and literary, and introduces his poetry, on love, metamorphosis, Roman festivals, and his own exile, a restlessly innovative oeuvre driven by the irrepressible ingenium or wit for which he was famous. Llewelyn Morgan also explores Ovid's immense influence on later literature and art, spanning from Shakespeare to Bellini. Throughout, Ovid's poetry is revealed as enduringly scintillating, his personal story compelling, and the issues his life and poetry raise of continuing relevance and interest. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Socialism: A Very Short Introduction

Socialism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael (Emeritus Professor, London Metropolitan University) Newman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2020

What is socialism? Does it have a future, or has it become an outdated ideology in the 21st century? This Very Short Introduction considers the major theories in socialism, and explores its historical evolution from the French Revolution to the present day. Michael Newman argues that socialism has always been a diverse doctrine, while nevertheless containing a central core of interconnected values and goals: a critique of capitalism; an optimistic view of human beings; and the belief that it is possible to establish societies based on egalitarianism, social solidarity, and co-operation. In this new edition, he draws on case studies such as Cuba, Sweden, and Bolivia, to consider attempts to implement socialism in practice, before discussing New Left challenges to conventional notions of socialism on such questions as feminism, climate change, and direct action. Rejecting the widespread view that socialism is an out-dated doctrine, Newman argues that it remains ultimately relevant in today's world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books ar the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

George Bernard Shaw: A Very Short Introduction

George Bernard Shaw: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Christopher (Eastern Illinois University) Wixson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2020

George Bernard Shaw has been called the second greatest playwright in English (after William Shakespeare) and one of the inventors of modern celebrity as the most famous public intellectual of his time. Beginning in the 1880s, as a critic and as a playwright, he transformed British drama, bringing to it intellectual substance, ethical imperatives, and modernity itself, setting the theatrical course for the subsequent century. That his legacy endures seventy years after his death is testament to the prescience of his thinking and his prolific creativity. This Very Short Introduction looks at Shaw's life, starting with his upbringing in Ireland, and then takes a chronological approach through his works. Considering Shaw's committed antagonism on behalf of a range of socio-political issues; his use of comedy as a mode for communicating serious ideas; and his rhetorical style that pushes conventional boundaries, Christopher Wixson provides an overview of the creative evolution of core themes throughout Shaw's long career. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

How ought we to live? What really exists? How do we know? This Very Short Introduction discusses some of the key questions philosophy engages with. Edward Craig explores important themes in ethics, and the nature of knowledge and the self, through readings from Plato, Hume, Descartes, Hegel, Darwin, and Buddhist writers. Throughout, he emphasizes why we do phiilosophy, explains how different areas of philosophy are related, and explores the contexts in which philosophy was and is done. This new edition includes a new chapter on free will, discussing determinism and indeterminism in the context of Descartes and Hegel's work. Craig also covers the Problem of Evil, and Kant's argument on the source of moral obligation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Joseph (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University) Siracusa Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2020

Nuclear weapons have not been used in anger since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Yet even after the Cold War, the Bomb is still the greatest threat facing humankind. As President Bill Clinton's first secretary of defence, Les Aspin, put it: 'The Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is no more. But the post-Cold War world is decidedly not post-nuclear'. For all the efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles, the Bomb is here to stay. This Very Short Introduction looks at the science of nuclear weapons and how they differ from conventional weapons. Tracing the story of the nuclear bomb, Joseph Siracusa chronicles the race to acquire the H-bomb, a thermonuclear weapon with revolutionary implications; and the history of early arms control, nuclear deterrence, and non-proliferation. He also tracks the development of nuclear weapons from the origins of the Cold War in 1945 to the end of Moscow-dominated Communism in 1991, and examines the promise and prospect of missile defence, including Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' and George W. Bush's National Missile Defence. This third edition includes a new chapter on the development of nuclear weapons and the policies they have generated since the end of the Cold War. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Modern Brazil: A Very Short Introduction

Modern Brazil: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Anthony W. (Brazil Institute, King's College London) Pereira Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/09/2020

Brazil is associated in many people's minds with conviviality, sensuality, and natural beauty. Yet the country behind these images and associations is something of an enigma. It is alternately praised as the country of the future , a rising power ready to take its place at the top tables of global governance, or written off as a perennial disappointment, a country forever failing to reach its potential, mired in corruption, inequality, poverty, and violence. These oscillations between euphoria and despair obscure a country with its own unique trajectory through the 20th and 21st centuries. This Very Short Introduction offers an account of modern Brazil that covers some of the major features of the country's transformation, including the rise of the modern state in the mid-20th century, the violent repression of dictatorship, the domestic economic, political, and social challenges faced by the country today, and the role Brazil plays in dealing with some of the most important contemporary global problems. In doing so, Anthony Pereira highlights some of the peculiar features of Brazil's development, such as the tendency of its political leaders to engage in complicated, informal political deals; the state's welfare institutions that often exacerbate, rather than improve, the country's deep economic inequalities; and Brazil's long history of peaceful relations with its neighbours despite a high level of state violence against citizens. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Ecology: A Very Short Introduction

Ecology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jaboury (ETH Zurich and the University of Edinburgh) Ghazoul Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/08/2020

Understanding how our living environment works is essentially a study of ecological systems. Ecology is the science of how organisms interact with each other and with their environment, and how such interactions create self-organising communities and ecosystems. This science touches us all. The food we eat, the water we drink, the natural resources we use, our physical and mental health, and much of our cultural heritage are to a large degree products of ecological interactions of organisms and their environment. This Very Short Introduction celebrates the centrality of ecology in our lives. Jaboury Ghazoul explores how ecology has evolved rapidly from natural history to become a predictive science that explains how the natural world works, and which guides environmental policy and management decisions. Drawing on a range of examples, he shows how ecological science can be applied to management and conservation, including the extent to which theory has shaped practice. Ecological science has also shaped social and cultural perspectives on the environment, a process that influences politics of the environment. Ghazoul concludes by considering the future of ecology, particularly in the light of current and future environmental challenges. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Ghetto: A Very Short Introduction

The Ghetto: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Bryan (University of Reading) Cheyette Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/08/2020

For three hundred years the ghetto defined Jewish culture in the late medieval and early modern period in Western Europe. In the nineteenth-century it was a free-floating concept which travelled to Eastern Europe and the United States. Eastern European ghettos , which enabled genocide, were crudely rehabilitated by the Nazis during World War Two as if they were part of a benign medieval tradition. In the United States, the word ghetto was routinely applied to endemic black ghettoization which has lasted from 1920 until the present. Outside of America the ghetto has been universalized as the incarnation of class difference, or colonialism, or apartheid, and has been applied to segregated cities and countries throughout the world. In this Very Short Introduction Bryan Cheyette unpicks the extraordinarily complex layers of contrasting meanings that have accrued over five hundred years to ghettos, considering their different settings across the globe. He considers core questions of why and when urban, racial, and colonial ghettos have appeared, and who they contain. Exploring their various identities, he shows how different ghettos interrelate, or are contrasted, across time and space, or even in the same place. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Philosophical Method: A Very Short Introduction

Philosophical Method: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Editor Oxford Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/08/2020

What are philosophers trying to achieve? How can they succeed? Does philosophy make progress? Is it in competition with science, or doing something completely different, or neither? Timothy Williamson tackles some of the key questions surrounding philosophy in new and provocative ways, showing how philosophy begins in common sense curiosity, and develops through our capacity to dispute rationally with each other. Discussing philosophy's ability to clarify our thoughts, he explains why such clarification depends on the development of philosophical theories, and how those theories can be tested by imaginative thought experiments, and compared against each other by standards similar to those used in the natural and social sciences. He also shows how logical rigour can be understood as a way of enhancing the explanatory power of philosophical theories. Drawing on the history of philosophy to provide a track record of philosophical thinking's successes and failures, Williams overturns widely held dogmas about the distinctive nature of philosophy in comparison to the sciences, demystifies its methods, and considers the future of the discipline. From thought experiments, to deduction, to theories, this Very Short Introduction will cause you to totally rethink what philosophy is. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. Previously published in hardback as Doing Philosophy

World Music: A Very Short Introduction

World Music: A Very Short Introduction

The term 'world music' encompasses both folk and popular music across the globe, as well as the sounds of cultural encounter and diversity, sacred voices raised in worship, local sounds, and universal values. It emerged as an invention of the West from encounters with other cultures, and holds the power to evoke the exotic and give voice to the voiceless. Today, in both sound and material it has a greater presence in human societies than ever before. The politics of which world music are a part - globalization, cosmopolitanism, and nationalism - play an increasingly direct role in societies throughout the world, but are at the same time also becoming increasingly controversial. In this new edition of his Very Short Introduction, Philip Bohlman considers questions of meaning and technology in world music, and responds to the dramatically changing political world in which people produce and listen to world music. He also addresses the different ways in which world music is created, disseminated, and consumed, as the full reach of the internet and technologies that store and spread music through the exchange of data files spark a revolution in the production and availability of world music. Finally, Bohlman revises the way we think of the musician, as an increasingly mobile individual, sometimes because physical borders have fallen away, at other times because they are closing. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Biogeography: A Very Short Introduction

Biogeography: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Mark V. (Professor of Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) Lomolino Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Biogeography is the study of geographic variation in all characteristics of life - ranging from genetic, morphological and behavioural variation among regional populations of a species, to geographic trends in diversity of entire communities across our planet's sufrace. From the ancient hunters and gatherers to the earliest naturalists, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, and scientists today, the search for patterns in life has provided insights that proved invaluable for understanding the natural world. And many, if not most, of the compelling kaleidoscope of patterns in biological diversity make little sense unless placed in an explicit geographic context. The Very Short Introduction explains the historical development of the field of biogeography, its fundamental tenets, principles and tools, and the invaluable insights it provides for understanding the diversity of life in the natural world. As Mark Lomolino shows, key questions such as where species occur, how they vary from place to place, where their ancestors occurred, and how they spread across the globe, are essential for us to develop effective strategies for conserving the great menagerie of life across our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

American Business History: A Very Short Introduction

American Business History: A Very Short Introduction

By the early twentieth century, it became common to describe the United States as a business civilization. President Coolidge in 1925 said, The chief business of the American people is business. More recently, historian Sven Beckert characterized Henry Ford's massive manufactory as the embodiment of America: While Athens had its Parthenon and Rome its Colosseum, the United States had its River Rouge Factory in Detroit... How did business come to assume such power and cultural centrality in America? This volume explores the variety of business enterprise in the United States and analyzes its presence in the country's economy, its evolution over time, and its meaning in society. It introduces readers to formative business leaders (including Elbert Gary, Harlow Curtice, and Mary Kay Ash), leading firms (Mellon Bank, National Cash Register, Xerox), and fiction about business people (The Octopus, Babbitt, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit). It also discusses Alfred Chandler, Joseph Schumpeter, Mira Wilkins, and others who made significant contributions to understanding of America's business history. This VSI pursues its three central themes - the evolution, scale, and culture of American business - in a chronological framework stretching from the American Revolution to today. The first theme is evolution: How has U.S. business evolved over time? How have American companies competed with one another and with foreign firms? Why have ideas about strategy and management changed? Why did business people in the mid-twentieth century celebrate an organizational culture promising long-term employment in the same company, while a few decades later entrepreneurship was prized? Second is scale: Why did business assume such enormous scale in the United States? Was the rise of gigantic corporations due to the industriousness of its population, or natural resources, or government policies? And third, culture: What are the characteristics of a business civilization ? How have opinions on the meaning of business changed? In the late nineteenth century, Andrew Carnegie believed that America's numerous enterprises represented an exuberant triumph of democracy. After World War II, however, sociologist William H. Whyte saw business culture as stultifying, and historian Richard Hofstadter wrote, Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men. How did changes in the nature of business affect popular views? Walter A. Friedman provides the long view of these important developments.

The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction

For 30 years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse chronicled the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court and its justices as a correspondent for the New York Times. In this Very Short Introduction, she draws on her deep knowledge of the court's history and of its written and unwritten rules to show readers how the Supreme Court really works. Greenhouse offers a fascinating institutional biography of a place and its people-men and women who exercise great power but whose names and faces are unrecognized by many Americans and whose work often appears cloaked in mystery. How do cases get to the Supreme Court? How do the justices go about deciding them? What special role does the chief justice play? What do the law clerks do? How does the court relate to the other branches of government? Greenhouse answers these questions by depicting the justices as they confront deep constitutional issues or wrestle with the meaning of confusing federal statutes. Throughout, the author examines many individual Supreme Court cases to illustrate points under discussion, ranging from Marbury v. Madison, the seminal case which established judicial review, to the recent District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which struck down the District of Columbia's gun-control statute and which was, surprisingly, the first time in its history that the Court issued an authoritative interpretation of the Second Amendment. To add perspective, Greenhouse also compares the Court to foreign courts, revealing interesting differences. For instance, no other country in the world has chosen to bestow life tenure on its judges. The second edition of Greenhouse's Very Short Introduction tracks the changes in the Court's makeup over the last eight years, considers the landmark decisions of the Obama and Trump eras, and reexamines the precarious fates of such precedents as Roe v. Wade. A superb overview packed with telling details, this volume offers a matchless introduction to one of the pillars of American government.

French Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

French Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Stephen (University of Sydney) Gaukroger, Knox (Flinders University) Peden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

French culture is unique in that philosophy has played a significant role from the early-modern period onwards, intimately associated with political, religious, and literary debates, as well as with epistemological and scientific ones. While Latin was the language of learning there was a universal philosophical literature, but with the rise of vernacular literatures things changed and a distinctive national form of philosophy arose in France. This Very Short Introduction covers French philosophy from its origins in the sixteenth century up to the present, analysing it within its social, political, and cultural context. Beginning with psychology and epistemology, Stephen Gaukroger and Knox Peden then move onto the emergence of radical philosophy in the eighteenth century, before considering post-revolutionary philosophy in the nineteenth century, philosophy in the world wars, the radical thought of the 1960s, and finally French philosophy today. Throughout, they explore the dilemma sustained by the markedly national conception of French philosophy, and its history of speaking out on matters of universal concern. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Russian Economy: A Very Short Introduction

The Russian Economy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Richard (University of Birmingham) Connolly Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Russia today is as prominent in international affairs as it was at the height of the Cold War. Yet the role that the economy plays in supporting Russia's position as a 'great power' on the international stage is poorly understood. For many, Russia's political influence far exceeds its weight in the global economy. However, Russia is one of the largest economies in the world; it is not only one of the world's most important exporters of oil and gas, but also of other natural resources, such as diamonds and gold. Its status as one of the largest wheat and grain exporters shapes commodity prices across the globe, while Russia's enormous arms industry, second only to the United States, provides it with the means to pursue an increasingly assertive foreign policy. All this means that Russia's economy is crucial in serving the country's political objectives, both within Russia and across the world. Russia today has a distinctly political type of economy that is neither the planned economy of the Soviet era, nor a market-based economy of the Euro-Atlantic variety. Instead, its economic system is characterised by a unique blend of state and market; control and freedom; and natural resources alongside human ingenuity. The Russian Economy: A Very Short Introduction introduces readers to the dimensions of the Russian economy that are often ignored by the media and public figures, or exaggerated and misunderstood. In doing so, it shows how Russia's economy is one of global significance, and helps explain why many of Russia's enduring features, such as the heavy hand of the state and the emphasis on military-industrial production, have persisted despite the immense changes that took place after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Canada: A Very Short Introduction

Canada: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Donald (Professor of Political Science, University of New Brunswick) Wright Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Canada is not one nation, but three: English Canada, Quebec, and First Nations. Yet as a country Canada is very successful, in part because it maintains national diversity through bilingualism, multiculturalism, and federalism. Alongside this contemporary openness Canada also has its own history to contend with; with a legacy of broken treaties and residential schools for its Indigenous peoples, making reconciliation between Canada and First Nations an ongoing journey, not a destination. Drawing on history, politics, and literature, this Very Short Introduction starts at the end of the last ice age, when the melting of the ice sheets opened the northern half of North America to Indigenous peoples, and covers up to today's anthropogenic climate change, and Canada's climate politics. Donald Wright emphasizes Canada's complexity and diversity as well as its different identities and its commitment to rights, and explores its historical relationship to Great Britain, and its ongoing relationship with the United States. Finally, he examines Canada's northern realities and its northern identities. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Emile Zola: A Very Short Introduction

Emile Zola: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Brian (Monash University) Nelson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Emile Zola was the leader of the literary movement known as 'naturalism' and is one of the great figures of the novel. In his monumental Les Rougon-Macquart (1871-93), he explored the social and cultural landscape of the late nineteenth century in ways that scandalized bourgeois society. Zola opened the novel up to a new realm of subjects, including the realities of working-class life, class relations, and questions of gender and sexuality, and his writing embodied a new freedom of expression, with his bold, outspoken voice often inviting controversy. In this Very Short Introduction, Brian Nelson examines Zola's major themes and narrative art. He illuminates the social and political contexts of Zola's work, and provides readings of five individual novels (The Belly of Paris, L'Assommoir, The Ladies' Paradise, Germinal, and Earth). Zola's naturalist theories, which attempted to align literature with science, helped to generate the stereotypical notion that his fiction was somehow nonfictional. Nelson, however, reveals how the most distinctive elements of Zola's writing go far beyond his theoretical naturalism, giving his novels their unique force. Throughout, he sets Zola's work in context, considering his relations with contemporary painters, his role in the Dreyfus Affair, and his eventual murder. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Dementia: A Very Short Introduction

Dementia: A Very Short Introduction

As more of us live longer, the fear of an old age devastated by brain diseases like dementia is growing. Many people are already facing the challenges posed by these progressive and terminal conditions, whether in person or because they are caring for loved ones. Dementia is now the fifth most common cause of death across the world. It is small wonder that understanding, preventing, and finally curing these illnesses is now a global priority. Recent advances in brain research have given scientists a better chance than ever of finding ways to help patients, carers, and clinicians dealing with dementia. Yet there is still no effective treatment. Why has progress been so slow? And what can we all do to reduce our chances of getting the disease? In this Very Short Introduction Kathleen Taylor offers a guide to the science of dementia and brain ageing. Never forgetting the human costs of brain disorders - movingly illustrated throughout the book - she also discusses their costs to society. Clearly explaining the research, she sets out the main ideas which have driven dementia science, and the new contenders hoping to make a breakthrough. Taylor also looks at risk factors, and how to lower our chances of succumbing to dementia. Assessing current and potential treatments, including both drugs and other approaches, she explains, clearly and gently, what help is available for someone who is diagnosed with dementia, and how to boost the chances of living well with the condition. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Damien (Goldsmiths, University of London) Keown Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/07/2020

With over 520 million followers, Buddhism is now the world's fourth largest religion. Over the last seventy years or so there has been a growing interest in Buddhism, and it continues to capture the imagination of many in the West, who see it as either an alternative or a supplement to their own religious beliefs. For complex cultural and historical reasons, ethics has not received as much attention in traditional Buddhist thought as it has in the West. In this Very Short Introduction, Damien Keown explores how Buddhism approaches a range of moral issues of our age, including our relationship with our environment, our treatment of animals, and our stance on abortion, on sexuality and gender, on violence and war. This new edition also includes a discussion of the ethical challenges posed by cutting-edge developments in science and biomedical technologies, including neuroscience, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, and gene editing. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

International Relations: A Very Short Introduction

International Relations: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Christian (Professor of International Relations, University of Queensland) Reus-Smit Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/06/2020

International relations affects everyone's lives: their security, economic well-being, rights and freedoms, and the environment they share. Recently we have seen the transformation from a world of empires to today's world of sovereign states, which are enmeshed in a complex array of international institutions, all exercising degrees of political authority. The new global organization of political authority has far-reaching consequences. This Very Short Introduction untangles this complex world, providing an accessible framework for understanding the contours of global political change. Christian Reus-Smit treats theory as an indispensable tool for grasping international relations, but demystifies theorizing, introducing it as an everyday human practice. He surveys a range of theories, from realism to feminism: reading them as contrasting perspectives on the global organization of political authority. Historically, such organization has been shaped by diverse social forces, four of which are discussed in detail: shifting patterns of warfare, changing economic conditions, struggles for rights, and the politics of culture. Reus-Smit concludes with a reflection on the future of international relations in an era of profound global change. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Globalization: A Very Short Introduction

Globalization: A Very Short Introduction

We live today in an interconnected world in which ordinary people can became instant online celebrities to fans thousands of miles away, in which religious leaders can influence millions globally, in which humans are altering the climate and environment, and in which complex social forces intersect across continents. This is globalization. In the fifth edition of his bestselling Very Short Introduction Manfred B. Steger considers the major dimensions of globalization: economic, political, cultural, ideological, and ecological. He looks at its causes and effects, and engages with the hotly contested question of whether globalization is, ultimately, a good or a bad thing. From climate change to the Ebola virus, Donald Trump to Twitter, trade wars to China's growing global profile, Steger explores today's unprecedented levels of planetary integration as well as the recent challenges posed by resurgent national populism. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Number Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Number Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robin (The Open University, UK) Wilson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/06/2020

Number theory is the branch of mathematics that is primarily concerned with the counting numbers. Of particular importance are the prime numbers, the 'building blocks' of our number system. The subject is an old one, dating back over two millennia to the ancient Greeks, and for many years has been studied for its intrinsic beauty and elegance, not least because several of its challenges are so easy to state that everyone can understand them, and yet no-one has ever been able to resolve them. But number theory has also recently become of great practical importance - in the area of cryptography, where the security of your credit card, and indeed of the nation's defence, depends on a result concerning prime numbers that dates back to the 18th century. Recent years have witnessed other spectacular developments, such as Andrew Wiles's proof of 'Fermat's last theorem' (unproved for over 250 years) and some exciting work on prime numbers. In this Very Short Introduction Robin Wilson introduces the main areas of classical number theory, both ancient and modern. Drawing on the work of many of the greatest mathematicians of the past, such as Euclid, Fermat, Euler, and Gauss, he situates some of the most interesting and creative problems in the area in their historical context. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Fire: A Very Short Introduction

Fire: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Andrew C. (Royal Holloway, University of London) Scott Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/05/2020

Fire is rarely out of the headlines, from large natural wildfires raging across the Australian or Californian countrysides to the burning of buildings such as the disasters of Grenfell tower and Notre Dame. Fire on these scales can represent a serious risk to human life and property. But the advent of fire made and controlled by humans also represented a crucial point in our evolution, allowing us to cook our food, forge our weapons, and warm our homes. This Very Short Introduction covers the fundamentals of fire, whether wild or under human control, starting with the basics of ignition, combustion, and fuel. Andrew Scott considers both natural wildfires and the role of humans in making and suppressing fire. Despite frightening reports of wildfire destruction, he also shows how landscape fires have been part of our planet's history for 400 million years, and do not always have to be extinguished. He also considers the problem of fires in urban settings, including new ways to prevent fires. The cost of wildfire can be steep - as well as the burning, post-fire erosion and flooding can have a great impact on both humans and the environment. It can also have a lasting effect in shaping ecosystems and plant life. Scott ends by examining the relationship between fire and the climate, and considering the future of wildfire in a warming world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Smell: A Very Short Introduction

Smell: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Matthew (School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester) Cobb Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/05/2020

Our sense of smell - or olfaction as it is technically known - is our most enigmatic sense. It can conjure up memories, taking us back to very specific places and emotions, whilst powerful smells can induce strong feelings of hunger or nausea. In the animal kingdom smell can be used to find food, a mate, or a home; to sense danger; and to send and receive complex messages with other members of a species. Yet despite its fundamental importance in our mental life and in the existence of all animals, our scientific understanding of how smell works is limited. In this Very Short Introduction, Matthew Cobb describes the latest scientific research on smell in humans and other mammals, in insects, and even in fish. He looks at how smell evolved, how animals use it to navigate and communicate, and disorders of smell in humans. Understanding smell, especially its neurobiology, has proved a big challenge, but olfactory science has revealed genetic factors that determine what we can and cannot smell, and why some people like a given smell while others find it unbearable. He ends by considering future treatments for smell disorders, and speculating on the role of smell in a world of robots. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Sun: A Very Short Introduction

The Sun: A Very Short Introduction

The Sun, as our nearest star, is of enormous importance for life on Earth - providing the warm radiation and light which allowed complex life to evolve. The Sun plays a key role in influencing our climate, whilst solar storms and high-energy events can threaten our communication infrastructure and satellites. This Very Short Introduction explores what we know about the Sun, its physics, its structure, origins, and future evolution. Philip Judge explains some of the remaining puzzles about the Sun that still confound us, using elementary physics, and mathematical concepts. Why does the Sun form spots? Why does it flare? As he shows, these and other nagging difficulties relate to the Sun's continually variable magnetism, which converts an otherwise dull star into a machine for flooding interplanetary space with variable radiation, high-energy particles and magnetic ejections. Throughout, Judge highlights the many reasons that the Sun is important, and why scientists engage in solar research. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

British Politics: A Very Short Introduction

British Politics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tony (Emeritus Professor of Government, UCL) Wright Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/04/2020

At a time when politics in Britain is experiencing unprecedented turmoil, this Very Short Introduction examines the past, present, and possible future of British politics. Tony Wright puts current events into a longer and larger perspective, ranging from political ideas to political institutions, and offering an overview of the British political tradition. Throughout, he identifies key characteristics and ideas of British politics, and investigates what makes it distinctive, while emphasizing how these characteristics are reflected in the way the political system functions. This new edition includes key material on Brexit, analysing the divisions revealed by the Brexit vote and the extent to which Britain now has a politics of identity, and considering whether the referendum itself has fundamentally altered the constitutional landscape. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Systems Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Systems Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Systems biology came about as growing numbers of engineers and scientists from other fields created algorithms which supported the analysis of biological data in incredible quantities. Whereas biologists of the past had been forced to study one item or aspect at a time, due to technical and biological limitations, it suddenly became possible to study biological phenomena within their natural contexts. This interdisciplinary field offers a holistic approach to interpreting these processes, and has been responsible for some of the most important developments in the science of human health and environmental sustainability. This Very Short Introduction outlines the exciting processes and possibilities in the new field of systems biology. Eberhard O. Voit describes how it enabled us to learn how intricately the expression of every gene is controlled, how signaling systems keep organisms running smoothly, and how complicated even the simplest cells are. He explores what this field is about, why it is needed, and how it will affect our understanding of life, particularly in the areas of personalized medicine, drug development, food and energy production, and sustainable stewardship of our environments. Throughout he considers how new tools are being provided from the fields of mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, and chemistry to grasp the complexity of the countless interacting processes in cells which would overwhelm the cognitive and analytical capabilities of the human mind. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Racism: A Very Short Introduction

Racism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ali (Visiting Professor of Sociology, City, University of London) Rattansi Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/04/2020

There is often a demand for a short, sharp definition of racism, for example as captured in the popular formula Power + Prejudice= Racism. But in reality, racism is a complex, multidimensional phenomenon that cannot be captured by such definitions. In our world today there are a variety of racisms at play, and it is necessary to distinguish between issues such as individual prejudice, and systemic racisms which entrench racialiazed inequalities over time. This Very Short Introduction explores the history of racial ideas and a wide range of racisms - biological, cultural, colour-blind, and structural - and illuminates issues that have been the subject of recent debates. Is Islamophobia a form of racism? Is there a new antisemitism? Why has whiteness become an important source of debate? What is Intersectionality? What is unconscious or implicit bias, and what is its importance in understanding racial discrimination? Ali Rattansi tackles these questions, and also shows why African Americans and other ethnic minorities in the USA and Europe continue to suffer from discrimination today that results in ongoing disadvantage in these white dominant societies. Finally he explains why there has been a resurgence of national populist and far-right movements and explores their implications for the future of racism. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Aerial Warfare: A Very Short Introduction

Aerial Warfare: A Very Short Introduction

Aerial warfare has dominated war-making for over 100 years, and despite regular announcements of its demise, it shows no sign of becoming obsolete. In this Very Short Introduction Frank Ledwidge offers a sweeping look at the history of aerial warfare, introducing the major battles, crises, and controversies where air power has taken centre stage, and the changes in technology and air power capabilities over time. Highlighting the role played by air power in the First and Second World Wars, he also sheds light on the lesser-known theatres where the roles of air forces have been clearly decisive in conflicts, in Africa, South America, and Asia. Along the way, Ledwidge asks key questions about the roles air power can deliver, and whether it is conceptually different from other forms of combat. Considering whether bombing has ever been truly effective, he discusses whether wars can be won from the air, and concludes by analysing whether there is a future for manned air power, or if it is inevitable that drones will dominate 21st century war in the air. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. Previously published in hardback as Aerial Warfare: The Battle for the Skies.

Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction

Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ian J. (Professor of Differential Psychology, University of Edinburgh) Deary Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/03/2020

Some people are cleverer than others. This everyday observation is the subject of an academic field that is often portrayed as confused and controversial, when in fact, the field of intelligence holds some of psychology's best-replicated findings. This Very Short Introduction describes what psychologists have discovered about how and why people differ in their thinking powers. Drawing on large scale data Ian Deary considers how many types of intelligence there are, and how intelligence changes with age. Along the way he tackles some of the most burning questions surrounding intelligence, such as whether larger brains are cleverer, and how genes and environments contribute to people's intelligence differences. He also considers the new field of cognitive epidemiology, which draws links between intelligence and better health, less illness, and longer life, and asks whether intelligence is increasing. In this new edition Deary also addresses the controversial question of whether men and women differ in intelligence. Throughout he provides a clear description of the data we can use to answer these questions and more. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction

Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jim (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow) Fraser Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/03/2020

Forensic science is a subject of wide fascination. What happens at a crime scene? How does DNA profiling work? How can it help solve crimes that happened 20 years ago? In forensic science, a criminal case can often hinge on a piece of evidence such as a hair, a blood trace, half a footprint, or a tyre mark. Complex scientific findings must be considered carefully and dispassionately, and communicated with clarity, simplicity, and precision. High profile cases such as the Stephen Lawrence enquiry and the Madeleine McCann case have attracted enormous media attention and enhanced general interest in this area in recent years. In this Very Short Introduction, Jim Fraser introduces the concept of forensic science and explains how it is used in the investigation of crime. He begins at the crime scene itself, explaining the principles and processes of crime scene management, and drawing on his own personal experience of high profile cases including, the murder of Rachel Nickell and the unsolved murder of Jill Dando. Fraser explores how forensic scientists work; from the reconstruction of events to laboratory examinations. He considers the techniques they use, such as fingerprinting, and goes on to highlight the immense impact DNA profiling has had. Providing examples from forensic science cases in the UK, US, and other countries, he considers the techniques and challenges faced around the world. This new edition has been fully updated to take into account developments in areas such as DNA analysis and drug analysis, and the growing field of digital forensics. Topical areas explored include the growing significance of cognitive bias in forensic science, and recent research that raises doubts about the validity of some forensic techniques. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Nick (Department of Physics and Lincoln College, University of Oxford) Jelley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/03/2020

Energy is vital for a good standard of living, and much of the world's population does not have enough. Affordable and adequate sources of power that do not cause climate change or pollution are crucial; and renewables provide the answer. Wind and solar farms can now provide the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world. Moreover, they could provide all of the world's energy needs. But while market forces are fast helping the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, there are opposing pressures, such as the USA's proposed withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and the vested interests in fossil fuels. This Very Short Introduction describes the main renewable sources of energy- solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass- as well as the less well-developed ones- geothermal, tidal, and wave. Nick Jelley explains the challenges of integrating renewables into electricity grids, and the need for energy storage and for clean heat; and discusses the opportunities in developing countries for renewable energy to empower millions. He also considers international efforts and policies to support renewables and tackle climate change; and explains recent innovations in wind and solar energy production, battery storage, and in the emerging power-to-gas provision for clean heating. Throughout, he emphasises what renewable energy can deliver, and its importance in tackling climate change, and in improving health, welfare, and access to electricity. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Northern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction

Northern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Marc (Professor of Modern History, St Catherine's College, University of Oxford) Mulholland Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/03/2020

From the Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century to the entry into peace talks in the late twentieth century the Northern Irish people have been engaged in conflict - Catholic against Protestant, Republican against Unionist. The traumas of violence in the Northern Ireland Troubles have cast a long shadow. For many years, this appeared to be an intractable conflict with no pathway out. Mass mobilisations of people and dramatic political crises punctuated a seemingly endless succession of bloodshed. When in the 1990s and early 21st century, peace was painfully built, it brought together unlikely rivals, making Northern Ireland a model for conflict resolution internationally. But disagreement about the future of the province remains, and for the first time in decades one can now seriously speak of a democratic end to the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain as a foreseeable possibility. The Northern Ireland problem remains a fundamental issue as the United Kingdom recasts its relationship with Europe and the world. In this completely revised edition of his Very Short Introduction Marc Mulholland explores the pivotal moments in Northern Irish history - the rise of republicanism in the 1800s, Home Rule and the civil rights movement, the growth of Sinn Fein and the provisional IRA, and the DUP, before bringing the story up to date, drawing on newly available memoirs by paramilitary militants to offer previously unexplored perspectives, as well as recent work on Nothern Irish gender relations. Mulholland also includes a new chapter on the state of affairs in 21st Century Northern Ireland, considering the question of Irish unity in the light of both Brexit and the approaching anniversary of the 1921 partition, and drawing new lessons for the future. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Philip V. (Retired Professor of Marine Science, University of Otago, New Zealand) Mladenov Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/03/2020

The oceans are our planet's most distinctive and imposing natural habitat. They cover 71 per cent of its surface; support a remarkably diverse and exquisitely adapted array of life forms, from microscopic viruses, bacteria, and plankton to the largest existing animals; and possess many of Earth's most significant, intriguing, and inaccessible ecosystems. In an era in which humans are significantly altering the global environment, the oceans are undergoing rapid and profound changes. The study of marine biology is thus taking on added importance and urgency as people struggle to understand and manage these changes to protect our marine ecosystems. Healthy oceans produce half of the oxygen we breathe; stabilize our climate; create ecosystems that protect our coasts from storms; provide us with abundant food; and host diverse organisms that provide us with natural products for medicine and biotechnology. In this Very Short Introduction, marine biologist Philip Mladenov provides an accessible and up-to-date overview of marine biology, offering a tour of marine life and marine processes that ranges from the unimaginably abundant microscopic organisms that drive the oceans' food web to the apex predators that we exploit for food; from polar ocean ecosystems to tropical coral reefs; and from the luxurious kelp beds of the coastal ocean to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents where life exists without the energy of the sun. Throughout the book he considers the human impacts on marine life including overfishing, plastic and nutrient pollution, the spread of exotic species, and ocean warming and acidification. He discusses the threats these pose to our welfare, and the actions required to put us on a path to a more sustainable relationship with our oceans so that they can be restored and protected for future generations. Mladenov concludes with a new chapter offering an inspiring vision for the future of our oceans in 2050 that can be realised if we are wise enough to accelerate actions already underway and be bold with implementing new approaches. The next decade will decide the state of the oceans that we leave behind for future generations. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Korea: A Very Short Introduction

Korea: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael J. (James Madison University) Seth Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/02/2020

Having spent centuries in the shadows of its neighbours China and Japan, Korea is now the object of considerable interest for radically different reasons- the South as an economic success story and for its vibrant popular culture; the North as the home to one of the world's most repressive regimes, at once both bizarre and menacing. This Very Short Introduction explores the history, culture, and society of a deeply divided region. Michael Seth considers what it means to be Korean, and analyses how the various peoples of the Korean peninsula became one of the world's most homogeneous nations, before exploring how this nation evolved, in a single lifetime, into today's sharply contrasting societies. He also discusses how Korea fits into the larger narrative of both East Asian and world history, economically, politically, and socially. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Trigonometry: A Very Short Introduction

Trigonometry: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Glen (Coordinator of Mathematics, Coordinator of Mathematics, Quest University) Van Brummelen Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/02/2020

Born of the desire to understand the workings of motions of the heavenly bodies, trigonometry gave the ancient Greeks the ability to predict their futures. Most of what we see of the subject in school comes from these heavenly origins; 15th century astronomer Regiomontanus called it the foot of the ladder to the stars . In this Very Short Introduction Glen Van Brummelen shows how trigonometry connects mathematics to science, and has today become an indispensable tool in predicting cyclic patterns like animal populations and ocean tides. Its historical journey through major cultures such as medieval India and the Islamic World has taken it through disciplines such as geography and even religious practice. Trigonometry has also been a major player in the most startling mathematical developments of the modern world. Its interactions with the concept of infinity led to Taylor and Fourier series, some of the most practical tools of modern science. The birth of complex numbers led to a shocking union of exponential and trigonometric functions, creating the most beautiful formulas and powerful modelling tools in science. Finally, as Van Brummelen shows, trigonometry allows us to explore the strange new worlds of non-Euclidean geometries, opening up bizarre possibilities for the shape of space itself. And indeed, one of those new geometries - spherical - takes us full circle back to ancient Greek astronomers and European navigators, who first used it to chart their ways across the heavens and the earth. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Niels Bohr: A Very Short Introduction

Niels Bohr: A Very Short Introduction

Author: J.L. (Professor of History, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley) Heilbron Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/02/2020

Niels Bohr, who pioneered the quantum theory of the atom, had a broad conception of his obligations as a physicist. They included not only a responsibility for the consequences of his work for the wider society, but also a compulsion to apply the philosophy he deduced from his physics to improving ordinary people's understanding of the moral universe they inhabit. In some of these concerns Bohr resembled Einstein, although Einstein could not accept what he called the tranquilizing philosophy with which Bohr tried to resolve such ancient conundrums as the nature (or possibility) of free will. In this Very Short Introduction John Heilbron draws on sources never before presented in English to cover the life and work of one of the most creative physicists of the 20th century. In addition to his role as a scientist, Heilbron considers Bohr as a statesman and Danish cultural icon, who built scientific institutions and pushed for the extension of international cooperation in science to all nation states. As a humanist he was concerned with the cultivation of all sides of the individual, and with the complementary contributions of all peoples to the sum of human culture. Throughout, Heilbron considers how all of these aspects of Bohr's personality influenced his work, as well as the science that made him, in the words of Sir Henry Dale, President of the Royal Society of London, probably the first among all the men of all countries who are now active in any department of science. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Art History: A Very Short Introduction

Art History: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Dana (Professor of Art History, University of East Anglia) Arnold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/02/2020

Art history encompasses the study of the history and development of painting, sculpture and the other visual arts. In this Very Short Introduction, Dana Arnold presents an introduction to the issues, debates, and artefacts that make up art history. Beginning with a consideration of what art history is, she explains what makes the subject distinctive from other fields of study, and also explores the emergence of social histories of art (such as Feminist Art History and Queer Art History). Using a wide range of images, she goes on to explore key aspects of the discipline including how we write, present, read, and look at art, and the impact this has on our understanding of art history. This second edition includes a new chapter on global art histories, considering how the traditional emphasis on periods and styles in art originated in western art and can obscure other critical approaches and artwork from non-western cultures. Arnold also discusses the relationship between art and history, and the ways in which art can tell a different history from the one narrated by texts. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Prohibition: A Very Short Introduction

Prohibition: A Very Short Introduction

Americans have always been a hard-drinking people, but from 1920 to 1933 the country went dry. After decades of pressure from rural Protestants such as the hatchet-wielding Carry A. Nation and organizations such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union and Anti-Saloon League, the states ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Bolstered by the Volstead Act, this amendment made Prohibition law: alcohol could no longer be produced, imported, transported, or sold. This bizarre episode is often humorously recalled, frequently satirized, and usually condemned. The more interesting questions, however, are how and why Prohibition came about, how Prohibition worked (and failed to work), and how Prohibition gave way to strict governmental regulation of alcohol. This book answers these questions, presenting a brief and elegant overview of the Prohibition era and its legacy. During the 1920s alcohol prices rose, quality declined, and consumption dropped. The black market thrived, filling the pockets of mobsters and bootleggers. Since beer was too bulky to hide and largely disappeared, drinkers sipped cocktails made with moonshine or poor-grade imported liquor. The all-male saloon gave way to the speakeasy, where together men and women drank, smoked, and danced to jazz. After the onset of the Great Depression, support for Prohibition collapsed because of the rise in gangster violence and the need for revenue at local, state, and federal levels. As public opinion turned, Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised to repeal Prohibition in 1932. The legalization of beer came in April 1933, followed by the Twenty-first Amendment's repeal of the Eighteenth that December. State alcohol control boards soon adopted strong regulations, and their legacies continue to influence American drinking habits. Soon after, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The alcohol problem had shifted from being a moral issue during the century to a social, cultural, and political one during the campaign for Prohibition, and finally, to a therapeutic one involving individuals. As drinking returned to pre-Prohibition levels, a Neo-Prohibition emerged, led by groups such as Mothers against Drunk Driving, and ultimately resulted in a higher legal drinking age and other legislative measures. With his unparalleled expertise regarding American drinking patterns, W. J. Rorabaugh provides an accessible synthesis of one of the most important topics in US history, a topic that remains relevant today amidst rising concerns over binge-drinking and alcohol culture on college campuses.

Reconstruction: A Very Short Introduction

Reconstruction: A Very Short Introduction

The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in American history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Among its chief failures was the inability to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and rise of Jim Crow. Reconstruction also struggled to successfully manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern, free-labor pattern. But the failures cannot obscure a number of notable accomplishments, with decisive long-term consequences for American life: the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, the election of the first African American representatives to the US Congress, and the avoidance of any renewed outbreak of civil war. Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement. This Very Short Introduction delves into the constitutional, political, and social issues behind Reconstruction to provide a lucid and original account of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on American social fabric. Award-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo depicts Reconstruction as a bourgeois revolution - as the attempted extension of the free-labor ideology embodied by Lincoln and the Republican Party to what was perceived as a Southern region gone astray from the Founders' intention in the pursuit of Romantic aristocracy.

The Abrahamic Religions: A Very Short Introduction

The Abrahamic Religions: A Very Short Introduction

In the book of Genesis, God bestows a new name upon Abram-Abraham, a father of many nations. With this name and his Covenant, Abraham would become the patriarch of three of the world's major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Connected by their mutual-if differentiated-veneration of the One God proclaimed by Abraham, these traditions share much beyond their origins in the ancient Israel of the Old Testament. This Very Short Introduction explores the intertwined histories of these monotheistic religions, from the emergence of Christianity and Islam to the violence of the Crusades and the cultural exchanges of al-Andalus. Each religion continues to be shaped by this history but has also reacted to the forces of modernity and politics. Movements such as the Reformation and that led by seventh-century Kharijites have emerged, intentioned to reform or restore traditional religious practice but quite different in their goals and effects. Relationships with states, among them Israel and Saudi Arabia, have also figured importantly in their development. The Abrahamic Religions: A Very Short Introduction brings these traditions together into a common narrative, lending much needed context to the story of Abraham and his descendants.

Superstition: A Very Short Introduction

Superstition: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Stuart (Independent scholar, psychologist, and author) Vyse Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/12/2019

Do you touch wood for luck, or avoid hotel rooms on floor thirteen? Would you cross the path of a black cat, or step under a ladder? Is breaking a mirror just an expensive waste of glass, or something rather more sinister? Despite the dominance of science in today's world, superstitious beliefs - both traditional and new - remain surprisingly popular. A recent survey of adults in the United States found that 33 percent believed that finding a penny was good luck, and 23 percent believed that the number seven was lucky. Where did these superstitions come from, and why do they persist today? This Very Short Introduction explores the nature and surprising history of superstition from antiquity to the present. For two millennia, superstition was a label derisively applied to foreign religions and unacceptable religious practices, and its primary purpose was used to separate groups and assert religious and social authority. After the Enlightenment, the superstition label was still used to define groups, but the new dividing line was between reason and unreason. Today, despite our apparent sophistication and technological advances, superstitious belief and behaviour remain widespread, and highly educated people are not immune. Stuart Vyse takes an exciting look at the varieties of popular superstitious beliefs today and the psychological reasons behind their continued existence, as well as the likely future course of superstition in our increasingly connected world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Topology: A Very Short Introduction

Topology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Richard (Senior Tutor in Mathematics at Worcester College, Oxford University) Earl Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/12/2019

How is a subway map different from other maps? What makes a knot knotted? What makes the Moebius strip one-sided? These are questions of topology, the mathematical study of properties preserved by twisting or stretching objects. In the 20th century topology became as broad and fundamental as algebra and geometry, with important implications for science, especially physics. In this Very Short Introduction Richard Earl gives a sense of the more visual elements of topology (looking at surfaces) as well as covering the formal definition of continuity. Considering some of the eye-opening examples that led mathematicians to recognize a need for studying topology, he pays homage to the historical people, problems, and surprises that have propelled the growth of this field. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Energy Systems: A Very Short Introduction

Energy Systems: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Nick (Professor of Renewable Energy, Cardiff University) Jenkins Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/12/2019

Modern societies require energy systems to provide energy for cooking, heating, transport, and materials processing, as well as for electricity generation. Energy systems include the primary fuel, its conversion, and transport to the point of use. In many cases this primary fuel is still a fossil fuel, a one-use resource derived from a finite supply within our planet, causing considerable damage to the environment. After 300 years of increasing reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal, it is becoming ever clearer that the present energy systems need to change. In this Very Short Introduction Nick Jenkins explores our historic investment in the exploitation of fossil energy resources and their current importance, and discusses the implications of our increasing rate of energy use. He considers the widespread acceptance by scientists and policy makers that our energy systems must reduce emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and looks forward to the radical changes in fuel technology that will be necessary to continue to provide energy supplies in a sustainable manner, and extend access across the developing world. Considering the impact of changing to an environmentally benign and low-carbon energy system, Jenkins also looks at future low-carbon energy systems which would use electricity from a variety of renewable energy sources, as well as the role of nuclear power in our energy use. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

The French Revolution is a time of history made familiar from Dickens, Baroness Orczy, and Tolstoy, as well as the legends of let them eat cake, and tricolours. Beginning in 1789, this period of extreme political and social unrest saw the end of the French monarchy, the death of an extraordinary number of people beneath the guillotine's blade during the Terror, and the rise of Napoleon, as well as far reaching consequences still with us today, such as the enduring ideology of human rights, and decimalization. In this Very Short Introduction, William Doyle introduces the French old regime and considers how and why it collapsed. Retelling the unfolding events of the revolution, he analyses why the revolutionaries quarrelled with the king, the church and the rest of Europe, why this produced Terror, and finally how it accomplished rule by a general. Doyle also discusses how and why the revolution destroyed the age-old cultural, institutional, and social structures in France and beyond. In this new edition, Doyle includes new sections highlighting the main developments in the field since the first edition, before exploring the legacy of the revolution in the form of rationality in public affairs and responsible government. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Tides: A Very Short Introduction

Tides: A Very Short Introduction

The tide is the greatest synchronised movement of matter on our planet. Every drop of seawater takes part in tidal motion, driven by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. At the coast, we see the tide as a twice-daily rise and fall of sea level that moves the edge of the sea up and down a beach or cliff-face. In some places, the tide is small but at others it can rise in a few hours by the height of a three storey building; it then has to be treated with great respect by those who live and work by the sea. In this Very Short Introduction David George Bowers and Emyr Martyn Roberts explore what we know about the tides. Blending clear explanations of well known tidal phenomena with recent insights in the deep ocean and coastal seas, Bowers and Roberts use examples from around the world, to tell the story of the tide, considering its nature and causes, its observation and prediction, and unusual tides and their relevance. They explore why tides have attracted the attention of some of the world's greatest scientists, from the initial challenge of explaining why there are two tides a day when the moon and sun pass overhead just once; a problem that was solved by Isaac Newton. In the 19th century, scientists unravelled the rhythms of the tide; good tidal predictions in the form of tide tables were then possible. The predictions were made on beautiful tide predicting machines constructed of brass and mahogany, some of which can still be seen in maritime museums. In the 20th century, the importance of tides as mixers of sea water became evident. As Bowers and Roberts explore, tidal mixing of the ocean is essential for maintaining its deep circulation, a key part of the climate-control system of our planet. In inshore waters, tidal mixing enhances biological productivity, influences sea temperature and turbidity and creates dramatic features such as maelstroms and tidal bores. In the 21st century, space probes are examining the effects of tidal processes on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and the possibility of tidally-heated liquid oceans with their own ecosystems. Looking to the cutting edge of tidal research, Bowers and Roberts also consider how we can study the role of the tide in the geological and biological evolution of our own planet with innovative computer models. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Country Music: A Very Short Introduction

Country Music: A Very Short Introduction

Country Music: A Very Short Introduction presents a compelling overview of the music and its impact on American culture. Country music has long been a marker of American identity; from our popular culture to our politics, it has provided a soundtrack to our national life. While traditionally associated with the working class, country's appeal is far broader than any other popular music style. While this music rose from the people, it is also a product of the popular music industry, and the way the music has been marketed to its audience is a key part of its story. Key artists, songs, and musical styles are highlighted that are either touchstones for a particular social event (such as Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man, which produced both a positive and negative backlash as a marker of women's roles in society at the beginning of the liberation movement) or that encompass broader trends in the industry (for example, Jimmie Rodgers' T for Texas was an early example of the appropriation of black musical forms by white artists to market them to a mainstream audience). While pursuing a basically chronological outline, the book is structured around certain recurring themes (such as rural vs. urban; tradition vs. innovation; male vs. female; white vs. black) that have been documented through the work of country artists from the minstrel era to today. Truly the voice of the people, country music expresses both deep patriotism as well as a healthy skepticism towards the powers that dominate American society. Country Music: A Very Short Introduction illuminates this rich tradition and assesses its legacy in American popular music culture.

Federalism: A Very Short Introduction

Federalism: A Very Short Introduction

Early Americans were suspicious of centralized authority and executive power. Casting away the yoke of England and its king, the founding fathers shared in this distrust as they set out to pen the Constitution. Weighing a need for consolidated leadership with a demand for states' rights, they established a large federal republic with limited dominion over the states, leaving most of the governing responsibility with the former colonies. With this dual system of federalism, the national government held the powers of war, taxation, and commerce, and the ability to pass the laws necessary to uphold these functions. Although the federal role has grown substantially since then, states and local governments continue to perform most of the duties in civil and criminal law, business and professional licensing, the management of infrastructure and public services: roads, schools, libraries, sanitation, land use and development, and etc. Despite the critical roles of state and local governments, there is little awareness-or understanding-of the nature and operations of the federal system. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of federalism, from its origins and evolution to the key events and constitutional decisions that have defined its framework. Although the primary focus is on the United States, other federal systems, including Brazil, Canada, India, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the EU, are addressed.

Dynasty: A Very Short Introduction

Dynasty: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jeroen (Professor of History, Leiden University) Duindam Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/2019

For thousands of years bloodlines have been held as virtually unassailable credentials for leadership, with supreme political power perceived as a family affair across the globe and throughout history. At the heart of royal dynasties, kings were inflated to superhuman proportions, yet their status came at a price: whilst they may have reigned, they were very often ruled by others who sheltered behind the ruler's proclaimed omnipotence. Descent through the female line also occurred, subverting our common view of dynasty as built on father-son succession. Everywhere, women were important as mothers of boy-kings, and could even rule in their own right in some places. In this Very Short Introduction Jeroen Duindam connects the earliest history of kings and queens to contemporary examples of family-based leadership. His sweeping overview of five millennia of dynastic rule brings to light recurring predicaments of families on the throne. Examining persistent family conflict and the dilemmas of leadership, he shows how the challenge of governing the family was balanced by the necessity of family scions, close or distant, for the survival of dynasties. Tensions between ageing fathers and eager sons can be found among ancient kings as well as in modern business empires. Guidebooks for rulers throughout history provided counsel that will appear strikingly familiar to contemporary leaders. The thoughts and confessions of rulers added a more personal touch to these rules of thumb. Throughout, Duindam sheds light not only on similarities, but also on divergence and change in dynastic practice. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction

Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that explores the nature of art, beauty, and taste. It doesn't just consider traditional artistic experiences such as artworks in a museum or an opera performance, but also everyday experiences such as autumn leaves in the park, or even just the light of the setting sun falling on the kitchen table. It is also about your experience when you choose the shirt you're going to wear today or when you wonder whether you should put more pepper in the soup. Aesthetics is everywhere. It is one of the most important aspects of our life. In this Very Short Introduction Bence Nanay introduces the field of aesthetics, considering both Western and non-Western aesthetic traditions, and exploring why it is sometimes misunderstood or considered to be too elitist - by artists, musicians, and even philosophers. As Nanay shows, so-called 'high art' has no more claims on aesthetics than sitcoms, tattoos, or punk rock. In fact, the scope of aesthetics extends far wider than that of art, high or low, including much of what we care about in life. It is not the job of aesthetics to tell you which artworks are good and which ones are bad. It is not the job of aesthetics to tell you what experiences are worth having. If an experience is worth having for you, it thereby becomes the subject of aesthetics. This realisation is important, because thinking about aesthetics in this inclusive way opens up new ways of understanding old questions about the social aspect of our aesthetic engagements, and the importance of aesthetic values for our own self. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Philosophy of Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Philosophy of Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Samir (Professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Bristol) Okasha Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/2019

Over the last forty years the philosophy of biology has emerged as an important sub-discipline of the philosophy of science. Covering some of science's most divisive topics, such as philosophical issues in genetics, it also encompasses areas where modern biology has increasingly impinged on traditional philosophical questions, such as free will, essentialism, and nature vs nurture. In this Very Short Introduction Samir Okasha outlines the core issues with which contemporary philosophy of biology is engaged. Offering a whistle-stop tour of the history of biology, he explores key ideas and paradigm shifts throughout the centuries, including areas such as the theory of evolution by natural selection; the concepts of function and design; biological individuality; and the debate over adaptationism. Throughout Okasha makes clear the relevance of biology for understanding human beings, human society, and our place in the natural world, and the importance of engaging with these issues. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Albert Camus: A Very Short Introduction

Albert Camus: A Very Short Introduction

Few would question that Albert Camus (1913-1960), novelist, playwright, philosopher and journalist, is a major cultural icon. His widely quoted works have led to countless movie adaptions, graphic novels, pop songs, and even t-shirts. In this Very Short Introduction, Oliver Gloag chronicles the inspiring story of Camus' life. From a poor fatherless settler in French-Algeria to the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gloag offers a comprehensive view of Camus' major works and interventions, including his notion of the absurd and revolt, as well as his highly original concept of pure happiness through unity with nature called bonheur . This original introduction also addresses debates on coloniality, which have arisen around Camus' work. Gloag presents Camus in all his complexity a staunch defender of many progressive causes, fiercely attached to his French-Algerian roots, a writer of enormous talent and social awareness plagued by self-doubt, and a crucially relevant author whose major works continue to significantly impact our views on contemporary issues and events. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Psychopathy: A Very Short Introduction

Psychopathy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Essi (Professor of Developmental Psychology, University College London) Viding Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/2019

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has long captured the public imagination. Newspaper column inches have been devoted to murderers with psychopathic features, and we also encounter psychopaths in films and books. Individuals with psychopathy are characterised in particular by lack of empathy and guilt, manipulation of other people and, in the case of criminal psychopathy, premeditated violent behaviour. They are dangerous and can incur immeasurable emotional, psychological, physical, and financial costs to their victims and their families. Despite the public fascination with psychopathy, there is often a very limited understanding of the condition, and several myths about psychopathy abound. For example, people commonly assume that all psychopaths are sadistic serial killers or that all violent and antisocial individuals are psychopaths. Yet, research shows that most psychopaths are not serial killers, and, equally, there are plenty of antisocial and violent offenders who are not psychopaths. This Very Short Introduction gives an overview of how we can identify individuals with or at risk of developing psychopathy, and how they differ from other people who display antisocial behavior. Essi Viding also explores the latest genetic, neuroscience, and psychology evidence in order to illuminate why psychopaths behave and develop the way they do, and considers whether it is possible to prevent or even treat psychopathy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Emotion: A Very Short Introduction

Emotion: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Dylan Evans Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/2019

Was love invented by European poets in the Middle Ages or is it part of human nature? Will winning the lottery really make you happy? Is it possible to build robots that have feelings? In this Very Sort Introduction Dylan Evans explores these and many other intriguing questions in this guide to the latest thinking about the emotions. Drawing on a wide range of scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Evans takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart, discussing the evolution of emotions and their biological basis, the science of happiness, and the role that emotions play in memory and decision making. Greeted by critics as a pop science classic when it was first published in 2001, the book has now been thoroughly revised and updated to incorporate new developments in our understanding of emotions, including new sections addressing the neural basis of empathy and the emotional impact of films. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Scepticism: A Very Short Introduction

Scepticism: A Very Short Introduction

Throughout history scepticism and the urge to question accepted truths has been a powerful force for change and growth. Today, as we are bombarded by adverts, scientific studies praising the latest superfoods, and political rhetoric, a healthy amount of scepticism is widely encouraged. But when is such scepticism legitimate - for example, as a driver of new ideas - and when is it problematic? And what role might adopting a sceptical outlook play in leading an intellectually virtuous life? In this Very Short Introduction Duncan Pritchard explores both the advantages of scepticism, in challenging outdated notions, and also how it can have unhelpful social consequences, in generating distrust. He considers the role of scepticism at the source of contemporary social and political movements such as climate change denial, post-truth politics, and fake news. Pritchard also examines the philosophical arguments for a radical form of scepticism which maintains that knowledge is impossible, and explores some of the main responses to these arguments. Finally, he considers the part scepticism might play in applying better thinking and learning to achieve a more meaningful life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Foucault: A Very Short Introduction

Foucault: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Gary (John A. O'Brien Chair in Philosophy (Emeritus), University of Notre Dame) Gutting Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/2019

Born in 1926 in France, Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. Over the course of his life he dabbled in drugs, politics, and the Paris SM scene, all whilst striving to understand the deep concepts of identity, knowledge, and power. From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, Foucault was happy to reject old models of thinking and replace them with versions that are still widely debated today. A major influence on Queer Theory and gender studies (he was openly gay and died of an AIDS-related illness in 1984), he also wrote on architecture, history, law, medicine, literature, politics, and of course philosophy. In this Very Short Introduction Gary Gutting presents a wide-ranging but non-systematic exploration of some highlights of Foucault's life and thought. Beginning with a brief biography to set the social and political stage, he then tackles Foucault's thoughts on literature, in particular the avant-garde scene; his philosophical and historical work; his treatment of knowledge and power in modern society; and his thoughts on sexuality. This new edition includes feminist criticisms of Foucault's apparently sexist treatment of the Jouy case, as well as a new chapter offering a unified overview of the College de France lectures, now a major focus of interest in Foucault. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Poetry: A Very Short Introduction

Poetry: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Bernard (Emeritus Fellow, Wadham College, Oxford) O'Donoghue Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/2019

Poetry, arguably, has a greater range of conceptual meaning than perhaps any other term in English. At the most basic level everyone can recognise it-it is a kind of literature that uses special linguistic devices of organization and expression for aesthetic effect. However, far grander claims have been made for poetry than this-such as Shelley's that the poets 'are the unacknowledged legislators of the world', and that poetry is 'a higher truth'. In this Very Short Introduction, Bernard O'Donoghue provides a fascinating look at the many different forms of writing which have been called 'poetry'-from the Greeks to the present day. As well as questioning what poetry is, he asks what poetry is for, and considers contemporary debates on its value. Is there a universality to poetry? And does it have a duty of public utility and responsibility? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Socrates: A Very Short Introduction

Socrates: A Very Short Introduction

Socrates has a unique position in the history of philosophy; it is no exaggeration to say that had it not been for his influence on Plato, the whole development of Western philosophy might have been unimaginably different. Yet Socrates wrote nothing himself, and our knowledge of him is derived primarily from the engaging and infuriating figure who appears in Plato's dialogues. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Taylor explores the life of Socrates and his philosophical activity, before looking to the responses his philosophical doctrines have evoked in the centuries since his betrayal and execution at fellow Athenian hands. Examining the relationship between the historical Socrates and the Platonic character, Taylor considers the complex question of how far it is possible to distinguish the philosopher's own thought from that of those others who wrote about him, and explores the enduring image of Socrates as the ideal exemplar of the philosophic life - a thinker whose moral and intellectual integrity permeated every detail of his life. This new edition also includes a new chapter analysing the reception and influence of Socrates in 19th and 20th century philosophical thought. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Secularism: A Very Short Introduction

Secularism: A Very Short Introduction

Until the modern period the integration of church (or other religion) and state (or political life) had been taken for granted. The political order was always tied to an official religion in Christian Europe, pre-Christian Europe, and in the Arabic world. But from the eighteenth century onwards, some European states began to set up their political order on a different basis. Not religion, but the rule of law through non-religious values embedded in constitutions became the foundation of some states - a movement we now call secularism. In others, a de facto secularism emerged as political values and civil and criminal law altered their professed foundation from a shared religion to a non-religious basis. Today secularism is an increasingly hot topic in public, political, and religious debate across the globe. It is embodied in the conflict between secular republics - from the US to India - and the challenges they face from resurgent religious identity politics; in the challenges faced by religious states like those of the Arab world from insurgent secularists; and in states like China where calls for freedom of belief are challenging a state imposed non-religious worldview. In this Very Short Introduction Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, taking in momentous episodes in world history, such as the great transition of Europe from religious orthodoxy to pluralism, the global struggle for human rights and democracy, and the origins of modernity. He also considers the role of secularism when engaging with some of the most contentious political and legal issues of our time: 'blasphemy', 'apostasy', religious persecution, religious discrimination, religious schools, and freedom of belief and freedom of thought in a divided world. Previously published in hardback as Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Geoffrey Chaucer: A Very Short Introduction

Geoffrey Chaucer: A Very Short Introduction

Originally writing over 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer is today enjoying a global renaissance. Why do poets, translators, and audiences from so many cultures, from the mountains of Iran to the islands of Japan, find Chaucer so inspiring? In part this is down to the character and sheer inventiveness of Chaucer's work. At the time Chaucer's writings were not just literary adventures, but also a means of convincing the world that poetry and science, tragedy and astrology, could all be explored through the English language. French was still England's aristocratic language of choice when Chaucer was born; Latin was used for university education, theological discussion, and for burying the dead. Could a hybrid tongue such as English ever generate great writing to compare with French and Latin? Chaucer, miraculously, believed that it could, through gradual expansion of expressiveness and scientific precision. He was never paid to do this; he was valued, rather, as a capable civil servant, regulating the export of wool and the building of seating for royal tournaments. Such experiences, however, fed his writing, leading him to achieve a range of social registers, from noble tragedy to barnyard farce, unrivalled for centuries. His tale-telling geography is vast, his fascination with varieties of religious belief endless, and his desire to voice female experience especially remarkable. Many Chaucerian poets and performers, today, are women. In this Very Short Introduction David Wallace introduces the life, performance, and poetry of Chaucer, and analyses his astonishing and enduring appeal. Previously published in hardback as Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction

Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Klaus (Professor of Geopolitics, Royal Holloway, University of London) Dodds Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Geopolitics is a slippery term. From great power politics and speculation about resource scrambles, to everyday encounters and objects such as smart phones, it affects citizens, corporations, international bodies, social movements, and governments. Geopolitics is far more than simply the impact of geographical features such as rivers, mountains, and climate on political developments. Geography matters but not necessarily in the way that pundits and presidents assume. In this Very Short Introduction, Klaus Dodds tours the field of geopolitics, encompassing both its intellectual historical origins and its current concerns. As people struggle to cross borders, moving a few feet either side of a territorial boundary can be a matter of life or death, dramatically highlighting the connections between place and politics. Even far away from the front lines of states, geopolitics remains an important part of everyday life. A country's connectivity, location, size, and resources all affect how the people that live there understand and interact with the wider world. In this third edition Dodds includes new sections considering the rise of populism and economic nationalism as examples of how states, people, and corporations manage territorial frames for political projects such as Make America Great Again, One Belt, One Road, and Brexit. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Nazi Germany: A Very Short Introduction

Nazi Germany: A Very Short Introduction

Any consideration of the 20th century would be incomplete without a discussion of Nazi Germany, an extraordinary regime which dominated European history for 12 years, and left a legacy that still echoes with us today. The incredible force of the destructive vision at the heart of Nazi Germany led to a second world war when the world was still aching from the first one, and an incomprehensible death count, both at home and abroad. In this Very Short Introduction, Jane Caplan's insightful analysis of Nazi Germany provides a highly relevant reminder of the fragility of democratic institutions, and the ways in which the exploitation of national fears, mass political movements, and frail political opposition can lead to the imposition of dictatorship. Considering the emergence and popular appeal of the Nazi party, she discusses the relationships between belief, consent, and terror in securing the regime, alongside the crucial role played by Hitler himself. Covering the full history of the regime, she includes an unflinching look at the dark stains of war, persecution, and genocide. At the same time, Caplan offers unexpected angles of vision and insights; asking readers to look behind the handful of over-used images of Nazi Germany we are familiar with, and to engage critically with a history that that is so abhorrent it risks seeming beyond interpretation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction

The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Eric R. (Lecturer in Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles) Scerri Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/08/2019

The periodic table of elements, first encountered by many of us at school, provides an arrangement of the chemical elements, ordered by their atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties, and divided into periodic trends. In this Very Short Introduction Eric R. Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the table, and shows how the deeper meaning of the table's structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and, in particular, quantum mechanics, which underlies the behaviour of all of the elements and their compounds. This new edition, publishing in the International Year of the Periodic Table, celebrates the completion of the seventh period of the table, with the ratification and naming of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 as nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson. Eric R. Scerri also incorporates new material on recent advances in our understanding of the origin of the elements, as well as developments concerning group three of the periodic table. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction

Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Quentin (Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities, Queen Mary University of London) Skinner Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Niccolo Machiavelli taught that political leaders must be prepared to do evil so that good may come of it, and his name has been a byword ever since for duplicity and immorality. Is his sinister reputation deserved? In answering this question Quentin Skinner traces the course of Machiavelli's adult life, from his time as Second Chancellor of the Florentine republic, during which he met with kings, the pope, and the Holy Roman Emperor; to the fall of the republic in 1512; to his death in 1527. It was after the fall of the Republic that Machiavelli composed his main political works: The Prince, the Discourses, and The History of Florence. In this second edition of his Very Short Introduction Skinner includes new material on The Prince, showing how Machiavelli developed his neo-classical political theory, through engaging in continual dialogue with the ancient Roman moralists and historians, especially Cicero and Livy. The aim of political leaders, Machiavelli argues, should be to act virtuously so far as possible, but to stand ready 'to be not good' when this course of action is dictated by necessity. Exploring the pivotal concept of princely virtu to be found in classical and Renaissance humanist texts, Skinner brings new light to Machiavelli's philosophy of a willingness to do whatever may be necessary - whether moral or otherwise -to maintain a position of power. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Sidney (Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus of Physics, Emory University) Perkowitz Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Physics, the fundamental science of matter and energy, encompasses all levels of nature from the subatomic to the cosmic, and underlies much of the technology around us. Understanding the physics of our universe is an essential aspect of humanity's quest to understand our environment and our place within it. Doing physics enables us to explore the interaction between environment and human society, and can help us to work towards the future sustainability of the planet. This Very Short Introduction provides an overview of how this pervasive science came to be and how it works: who funds it, how physicists are trained and how they think, and how physics supports the technology we all use. Sidney Perkowitz presents the theories and outcomes of pure and applied physics from ideas of the Greek natural philosophers to modern quantum mechanics, cosmology, digital electronics and energy production. Considering its most consequential experiments, including recent results in elementary particles, gravitational waves and materials science, he also discusses outside the lab, the effects of physics on society, culture, and humanity's vision of its place in the universe. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction

Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction

To many in the West, Orthodoxy remains shrouded in mystery, an exotic and foreign religion that survived in the East following the Great Schism of 1054 that split the Christian world into two camps-Catholic and Orthodox. However, as the second largest Christian denomination, Orthodox Christianity is anything but foreign to the nearly 300 million worshippers who practice it. For them, Orthodoxy is a living, breathing reality; a way of being Christian ultimately rooted in the person of Jesus and the experience of the early Church. Whether they are Greek, Russian, or American, Orthodox Christians are united by a common tradition and faith that binds them together despite differences in culture. True, the road has not always been smooth-Orthodox history is littered with tales of schisms and divisions, of persecutions and martyrdom, from the Sack of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch, to the experience of the Russian Orthodox Church under the Soviet Union. Still, today Orthodoxy remains a vibrant part of the religious landscape, not only in those lands where it has made its historic home (Greece, Russia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe), but also increasingly in the West. Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction explores the enduring role of this religion, and the history, beliefs, and practices that have shaped it.

Synaesthesia: A Very Short Introduction

Synaesthesia: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Julia (Professor of Psychology, University of Sussex) Simner Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/07/2019

Can you taste words, feel flavours as a shape, or hear colors? If so you may well have synaesthesia, a neurological condition that gives rise to a 'merging of the senses'. This Very Short Introduction describes synaesthesia's many forms, and delves into the underlying neuroscience. Explaining the scientific basis for synaesthesia, Julia Simner considers how we can measure the effects synaesthesia has on the everyday lives of people living with it. Exploring the fascinating stories of different synaesthetes' experiences of the world, she also discusses the documented links between synaesthesia, childhood development, memory, personality, and artistic creativity, and the potential limitations synaesthesia might impose. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Extinction: A Very Short Introduction

Extinction: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul B. (Professor of Palaeoenvironments, University of Leeds) Wignall Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/07/2019

Most people are familiar with the dodo and the dinosaur, but extinction has occurred throughout the history of life, with the result that nearly all the species that have ever existed are now extinct. Today, species are disappearing at an ever increasing rate, whilst past losses have occurred during several great crises. Issues such as habitat destruction, conservation, climate change, and, during major crises, volacanism and meteorite impact, can all contribute towards the demise of a group. In this Very Short Introduction, Paul B. Wignall looks at the causes and nature of extinctions, past and present, and the factors that can make a species vulnerable. Summarising what we know about all of the major and minor exctinction events, he examines some of the greatest debates in modern science, such as the relative role of climate and humans in the death of the Pleistocene megafauna, including mammoths and giant ground sloths, and the roles that global warming, ocean acidification, and deforestation are playing in present-day extinctions ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Bernard (University Professor of Human Origins, George Washington University) Wood Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/07/2019

The study of human evolution is advancing rapidly. Newly discovered fossil evidence is adding ever more pieces to the puzzle of our past, whilst revolutionary technological advances in the study of ancient DNA are completely reshaping theories of early human populations and migrations. In this Very Short Introduction Bernard Wood traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the very latest fossil finds. In this new edition he discusses how Ancient DNA studies have revolutionized how we view the recent (post-550 ka) human evolution, and the process of speciation. The combination of ancient and modern human DNA has contributed to discoveries of new taxa, as well as the suggestion of 'ghost' taxa whose fossil records still remain to be discovered. Considering the contributions of related sciences such as paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology, Wood explores our latest understandings of our own evolution. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction

Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction

Since dyslexia was first described in the British Medical Journal in 1896, there has been debate about the definitions and diagnostic procedures used, with some casting doubt on its very existence. However, there is now a considerable body of research regarding the nature and characteristics of this relatively common learning disorder. The contemporary view of dyslexia has emerged from a century of research in medicine, psychology and more recently neuroscience, and we now understand enough about this learning disorder to guide policy and practice. This Very Short Introduction provides an accessible overview of this exciting field of research, beginning with its history, and drawing on testimony from people living with dyslexia. Considering the potential causes of dyslexia, and looking at both genetic and environment factors, Margaret Snowling shows how cross-linguistic studies have documented the prevalence of dyslexia in different languages. Discussing the various brain scanning techniques that have been used to find out if the brains of people with dyslexia differ in structure or function from those of typical readers, Snowling moves on to weigh up various strategies and interventions which can help people living with dyslexia today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

American Foreign Relations: A Very Short Introduction

American Foreign Relations: A Very Short Introduction

For better or worse, be it militarily, diplomatically, politically, economically, or culturally, Americans have had a profound role in shaping the wider world beyond them. Unsurprisingly, most non-Americans have passionate views about the nature of U.S. foreign policy. America has been a savior to some, a curse to others-and both have good reason to feel that way. And yet, such views are often also based on a caricature of American actions and intentions. For their part, Americans themselves have strong opinions about their role in the world and how it has evolved over time. Yet these views are shrouded as much in myth as they are grounded in fact. American Foreign Relations, then, suffers from being a subject of immense worldwide importance but almost complete misunderstanding; it provokes strong emotions and much debate in newspapers daily, but is accompanied by little comprehension. This Very Short Introduction aims to offer analysis of key events, episodes, crises, and individuals in the making of American foreign relations. It will discuss events such as the Revolutionary War, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, manifest destiny, the Mexican War, the Civil War, industrialization, the beginnings of globalization, the Spanish-American War, imperialism, the annexation of the Philippines, informal imperialism and the Open Door policy, World War I, isolationism, World War II, the Cold War from its origins to its end (including the Korean and Vietnam Wars), the Iraq Wars, 9/11, and Afghanistan. Such topics will be situated within an analytical narrative that follows chronology generally, but not strictly or comprehensively. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Concentration Camps: A Very Short Introduction

Concentration Camps: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Dan (Professor of Modern History, Royal Holloway, University of London) Stone Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/05/2019

Concentration camps are a relatively new invention, a recurring feature of twentieth century warfare, and one that is important to the modern global consciousness and identity. Although the most famous concentration camps are those under the Nazis, the use of concentration camps originated several decades before the Third Reich, in the Philippines and in the Boer War, and they have been used again in numerous locations, not least during the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. Over the course of the twentieth century they have become defining symbols of humankind's lowest point and basest acts. In this Very Short Introduction, Dan Stone gives a global history of concentration camps, and shows that it is not only mad dictators who have set up camps, but instead all varieties of states, including liberal democracies, that have made use of them. Setting concentration camps against the longer history of incarceration, he explains how the ability of the modern state to control populations led to the creation of this extreme institution. Looking at their emergence and spread around the world, Stone argues that concentration camps serve the purpose, from the point of view of the state in crisis, of removing a section of the population that is perceived to be threatening, traitorous, or diseased. Drawing on contemporary accounts of camps, as well as the philosophical literature surrounding them, Stone considers the story camps tell us about the nature of the modern world as well as about specific regimes. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Reading: A Very Short Introduction

Reading: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Belinda (Fellow and Tutor, Christ Church, Oxford) Jack Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/05/2019

Today many people take reading for granted, but we remain some way off from attaining literacy for the global human population. And whilst we think we know what reading is, it remains in many ways a mysterious process, or set of processes. The effects of reading are myriad: it can be informative, distracting, moving, erotically arousing, politically motivating, spiritual, and much, much more. At different times and in different places reading means different things. In this Very Short Introduction Belinda Jack explores the fascinating history of literacy, and the opportunities reading opens. For much of human history reading was the preserve of the elite, and most reading meant being read to. Innovations in printing, paper-making, and transport, combined with the rise of public education from the late eighteenth century on, brought a dramatic rise in literacy in many parts of the world. Established links between a nation's levels of literacy and its economy led to the promotion of reading for political ends. But, equally, reading has been associated with subversive ideas, leading to censorship through multiple channels: denying access to education, controlling publishing, destroying libraries, and even the burning of authors and their works. Indeed, the works of Voltaire were so often burned that an enterprising Parisian publisher produced a fire-proof edition, decorated with a phoenix. But, as Jack demonstrates, reading is a collaborative act between an author and a reader, and one which can never be wholly controlled. Telling the story of reading, from the ancient world to digital reading and restrictions today, Belinda Jack explores why it is such an important aspect of our society. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Leo Tolstoy: A Very Short Introduction

Leo Tolstoy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Liza (Professor, Department of Slavic Languages, Columbia University) Knapp Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/04/2019

War and Peace and Anna Karenina are widely recognised as two of the greatest novels ever written. Their author, Leo Tolstoy, has been honoured as the father of the modern war story; as an innovator in psychological prose and forerunner of stream of consciousness; and as a genius at using fiction to reveal the mysteries of love and death. At the time of his death in 1910, Tolstoy was known the world over as both a great writer and as a merciless critic of institutions that perpetrated, bred, or tolerated injustice and violence in any form. Yet among literary critics and rival writers, it has become a commonplace to disparage Tolstoy's thought while praising his art. In this Very Short Intorduction Liza Knapp explores the heart of Tolstoy's work. Focussing on his masterpieces of fiction which have stood the test of time, she analyses his works of non-fiction alongside them, and sketches out the core themes in Tolstoy's art and thought, and the interplay between them. Tracing the continuing influence of Tolstoy's work on modern literature, Knapp highlights those aspects of his writings that remain relevant today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Homer: A Very Short Introduction

Homer: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Barbara (Professor of Classics, Durham University) Graziosi Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/04/2019

Homer's mythological tales of war and homecoming,the Iliad and the Odyssey, are widely considered to be two of the most influential works in the history of western literature. Yet their author, 'the greatest poet that ever lived' is something of a mystery. By the 6th century BCE, Homer had already become a mythical figure, and today debate continues as to whether he ever existed. In this Very Short Introduction Barbara Graziosi considers Homer's famous works, and their impact on readers throughout the centuries. She shows how the Iliad and the Odyssey benefit from a tradition of reading that spans well over two millennia, stemming from ancient scholars at the library of Alexandria, in the third and second centuries BCE, who wrote some of the first commentaries on the Homeric epics. Summaries of these scholars' notes made their way into the margins of Byzantine manuscripts; from Byzantium the annotated manuscripts travelled to Italy; and the ancient notes finally appeared in the first printed editions of Homer, eventually influencing our interpretation of Homer's work today. Along the way, Homer's works have inspired artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers. Exploring the main literary, historical, cultural, and archaeological issues at the heart of Homer's narratives, Graziosi analyses the enduring appeal of Homer and his iconic works. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. This book was previously published in hardback as Homer.

Matter: A Very Short Introduction

Matter: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Geoff (Academic Visitor, Oxford University Dept. of Physics) Cottrell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/04/2019

What is matter? Matter is the stuff from which we and all the things in the world are made. Everything around us, from desks, to books, to our own bodies are made of atoms, which are small enough that a million of them can fit across the breadth of a human hair. Inside every atom is a tiny nucleus and orbiting the nucleus is a cloud of electrons. The nucleus is made out of protons and neutrons, and by zooming in further you would find that inside each there are even smaller particles, quarks. Together with electrons, the quarks are the smallest particles that have been seen, and are the indivisible fundamental particles of nature that have existed since the Big Bang, almost 14 billion years ago. The 92 different chemical elements that all normal matter is made from were forged billions of years ago in the Big Bang, inside stars, and in violent stellar explosions. This Very Short Introduction takes us on a journey from the human scale of matter in the familiar everyday forms of solids, liquids, and gases to plasmas, exotic forms of quantum matter, and antimatter. On the largest scales matter is sculpted by gravity into planets, stars, galaxies, and vast clusters of galaxies. All the matter that that we normally encounter however constitutes only 5% of the matter that exists. The remaining 95% comes in two mysterious forms: dark matter, and dark energy. Dark matter is necessary to stop the galaxies from flying apart, and dark energy is needed to explain the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe. Geoff Cottrell explores the latest research into matter, and shows that there is still a lot we don't know about the stuff our universe is made of. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Treaty of Versailles: A Very Short Introduction

The Treaty of Versailles: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael S. (Chair in War Studies, Chair in War Studies, US Army War College) Neiberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/03/2019

Signed on June 28, 1919 between Germany and the principal Allied powers, the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I. Problematic from the very beginning, even its contemporaries saw the treaty as a mediocre compromise, creating a precarious order in Europe and abroad and destined to fall short of ensuring lasting peace. At the time, observers read the treaty through competing lenses: a desire for peace after five years of disastrous war, demands for vengeance against Germany, the uncertain future of colonialism, and, most alarmingly, the emerging threat of Bolshevism. A century after its signing, we can look back at how those developments evolved through the twentieth century, evaluating the treaty and its consequences with unprecedented depth of perspective. The author of several award-winning books, Michael S. Neiberg provides a lucid and authoritative account of the Treaty of Versailles, explaining the enormous challenges facing those who tried to put the world back together after the global destruction of the World War I. Rather than assessing winners and losers, this compelling book analyzes the many subtle factors that influenced the treaty and the dominant, at times ambiguous role of the Big Four leaders: Woodrow Wilson of the United States, David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, and Georges Clemenceau of France. The Treaty of Versailles was not solely responsible for the catastrophic war that crippled Europe and the world just two decades later, but it played a critical role. As Neiberg reminds us, to understand decolonization, World War II, the Cold War, and even the complex world we inhabit today, there is no better place to begin than with World War I and the treaty that tried, and perhaps failed, to end it.

Garden History: A Very Short Introduction

Garden History: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Gordon (Fellow in Renaissance Studies University of Leicester) Campbell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/03/2019

Gardens take many forms, and have a variety of functions. They can serve as spaces of peace and tranquilty, a way to cultivate wildlife, or as places to develop agricultural resources. Globally, gardens have inspired, comforted, and sustained people from all walks of life, and since the Garden of Eden many iconic gardens have inspired great artists, poets, musicians, and writers. In this Very Short Introduction, Gordon Campbell embraces gardens in all their splendour, from parks, and fruit and vegetable gardens to ornamental gardens, and takes the reader on a globe-trotting historical journey through iconic and cultural signposts of gardens from different regions and traditions. Ranging from the gardens of ancient Persia to modern day allotments, he concludes by looking to the future of the garden in the age of global warming, and the adaptive spirit of human innovation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Identity: A Very Short Introduction

Identity: A Very Short Introduction

Identity has become one of the most widely used terms today, appearing in many different contexts. Anything and everything has an identity, and identity crises have become almost equally pervasive. Yet 'identity' is extremely versatile, meaning different things to different people and in different scientific disciplines. To many its meaning seems self-evident, since its various uses share common features, so often the term is used without a definition of what, exactly, is meant by it. This provokes the core question: What exactly is identity? In this Very Short Introduction Florian Coulmas provides a survey of the many faces of the concept of identity, and discusses its significance and varied meanings in the fields of philosophy, sociology, and psychology, as well as politics and law. Tracing our concern with identity to its deep roots in Europe's intellectual history, individualism, and the felt need to draw borderlines, Coulmas identifies the most important features used to mark off individual and collective identities, and demonstrates why they are deemed important. He concludes with a glimpse at the many ways in which literature has engaged with problems of identity throughout history. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Film Noir: A Very Short Introduction

Film Noir: A Very Short Introduction

Author: James (Emeritus Chancellors' Professor, Indiana University) Naremore Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/03/2019

Film noir, one of the most intriguing yet difficult to define terms in cinema history, is usually associated with a series of darkly seductive Hollywood thrillers from the 1940s and 50s - shadowy, black-and-white pictures about private eyes, femme fatales, outlaw lovers, criminal heists, corrupt police, and doomed or endangered outsiders. But as this VSI demonstrates, film noir actually predates the 1940s and has never been confined to Hollywood. International in scope, its various manifestations have spread across generic categories, attracted the interest of the world's great directors, and continue to appear even today. In this Very Short Introduction James Naremore shows how the term film noir originated in in French literary and film criticism, and how later uses of the term travelled abroad, changing its implications. In the process, he comments on classic examples of the films and explores important aspects of their history: their critical reception, their major literary sources, their methods of dealing with censorship and budgets, their social and cultural politics, their variety of styles, and their future in a world of digital media and video streaming. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Mathematical Finance: A Very Short Introduction

Mathematical Finance: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Mark H. A. (Senior Research Fellow, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London) Davis Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/02/2019

In recent years the finance industry has mushroomed to become an important part of modern economies, and many science and engineering graduates have joined the industry as quantitative analysts, with mathematical and computational skills that are needed to solve complex problems of asset valuation and risk management. An important parallel story exists of scientific endeavour. Between 1965-1995, insightful ideas in economics about asset valuation were turned into a mathematical 'theory of arbitrage', an enterprise whose first achievement was the famous 1973 Black-Scholes formula, followed by extensive investigations using all the resources of modern analysis and probability. The growth of the finance industry proceeded hand-in-hand with these developments. Now new challenges arise to deal with the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and to take advantage of new technology, which has revolutionized the practice of trading. This Very Short Introduction introduces readers with no previous background in this area to arbitrage theory and why it works the way it does. Illuminating pricing theory, Mark Davis explains its applications to interest rates, credit trading, fund management and risk management. He concludes with a survey of the most pressing issues in mathematical finance today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction

Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael (Emeritus Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford) Inwood Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/02/2019

Martin Heidegger, considered by some to be the greatest charlatan ever to claim the title of 'philosopher', by some as an apologist for Nazism, and by others as an acknowledged leader in continental philosophy, is probably the most divisive thinker of the twentieth century. In the second edition of this Very Short Introduction, Michael Inwood focuses on Heidegger's most important work, Being and Time, to explore its major themes of existence in the world, inauthenticity, guilt, destiny, truth, and the nature of time. These themes are then reassessed in the light of Heidegger's multifaceted later thought, and how, despite its diversity, it hangs together as a single, coherent project. Finally, Inwood turns to Heidegger's Nazism and anti-semitism, to reveal its deep connection with his personality and overall view of philosophy. This is an invaluable guide to the complex and voluminous thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest yet most enigmatic philosophers. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Reptiles: A Very Short Introduction

Reptiles: A Very Short Introduction

Author: T. S. (Emeritus Research Fellow, St John's College) Kemp Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/02/2019

For millions of years reptiles have walked, crawled, and slithered over the face of our Earth. From the mighty dinosaurs who dominated the land, the pterosaurs who took to the air, and the marine adapted ichthyosaurs, to the living reptiles today such as the lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and turtles, plus the single species of tuatara in New Zealand, reptiles have come in all shapes and sizes. In this Very Short Introduction Tom Kemp discusses the adaptations reptiles made to first leave the sea and colonise the land in dry conditions, such as their waterproof skin, their ability to expel almost dry waste products, their efficient use of external heat for maintaining their body temperature, and the amniotic egg that is laid and develops on dry land. Considering the different living groups of reptiles today, Kemp then describes how their respective bodies are adapted for their different ways of life, from snake feeding patterns to the way crocodiles breathe. Finally, Kemp assesses the threat of extinction to reptile species due to over-exploitation, habitat destruction, and climate change, and considers what can be done. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

C. S. Lewis: A Very Short Introduction

C. S. Lewis: A Very Short Introduction

Author: James (Professor of Rhetoric Emeritus, York College, City University of New York) Como Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/02/2019

Beloved by children and adults worldwide, the writings of C.S. Lewis have a broad and enduring appeal. Although he is best known for the iconic Chronicles of Narnia series, C. S. Lewis was actually a man of many literary parts. Already well-known as a scholar in the thirties, he became a famous broadcaster during World War Two and wrote in many genres, including satire (The Screwtape Letters), science fiction ( Perelandra), a novel (Till We Have Faces), and many other books on Christian belief, such as Mere Christianity and Miracles. His few sermons remain touchstones of their type. In addition to these, Lewis wrote hundreds of poems and articles on social and cultural issues, many books and articles in his field of literary criticism and history, and thousands of letters. At Oxford University he became a charismatic lecturer and conversationalist. Taken together his writings have engaged and influenced, often very deeply, millions of readers. Now Lewis societies, television documentaries, movies, radio plays, and theatrical treatments of his work and life have become common, and he is frequently quoted by journalists, critics, and public thinkers. This Very Short Introduciton delves into the vast corpus of C. S. Lewis' work, discussing its core themes and lasting appeal. As James Como shows, C. S. Lewis' life is just as interesting as his work. A complex man, he came to his knowledge, beliefs, and wisdom only after much tortuous soul-searching and many painful events. Moving chronologically through Lewis' life, Como provides throughout a picture of the whole man, his work, and his enduring legacy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Methodism: A Very Short Introduction

Methodism: A Very Short Introduction

Beginning as a renewal movement within Anglicanism in the eighteenth century, Methodism had become the largest Protestant denomination in the USA in the nineteenth century, and is today one of the most vibrant forms of Christianity. Representing a complex spiritual and evangelistic experiment that involves a passionate commitment to worldwide mission, it covers a global network of Christian denominations. In this Very Short Introduction William J. Abraham trace Methodism from its origins in the work of John Wesley and the hymns of his brother, Charles Wesley, in the eighteenth century, right up to the present. Considering the identity, nature, and history of Methodism, Abraham provides a fresh account of the place of Methodism in the life and thought of the Christian Church. Describing the message of Methodism, and who the Methodists are, he also considers the practices of Methodism, and discusses the global impact of Methodism and its decline in the homelands. Finally Abraham looks forward, and considers the future prospects for Methodism. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Environmental Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Environmental Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robin (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cardiff University) Attfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/12/2018

Environmental ethics is a relatively new branch of philosophy, which studies the values and principles involved in combatting environmental problems such as pollution, loss of species and habitats, and climate change. As our environment faces evermore threats from human activities these core issues are becoming increasingly important. In this Very Short Introduction Robin Attfield traces the origins of environmental ethics as a discipline, and considers how it defends the independent value of living creatures, and the need to make decisions informed by the needs and interests of future generations. Exploring the diverse approaches to ethical decisions and judgements, he highlights the importance of making processes of production and consumption sustainable and of addressing human population levels, together with policies for preserving species, sub-species, and their habitats. Along the way Attfield discusses different movements such as Deep Ecology, Social Ecology, the Environmental Justice movement and the Green movement, and also considers the attitudes to the environment of the world's religions, including the approach from the major religions and the contributions of the indigenous religions of Asia, Africa and North America. Analysing the current threat of climate change, and proposals for climate engineering, he demonstrates how responsibility for the environment ultimately lies with us all, from states and corporations to individuals, and emphasises how concerted action is required to manage our environment ethically and sustainably. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Modern Architecture: A Very Short Introduction

Modern Architecture: A Very Short Introduction

Somewhere between 1910 and 1970, architecture changed. Now that modern architecture has become familiar (sometimes celebrated, sometimes vilified), it's hard to imagine how novel it once seemed. Expensive buildings were transformed from ornamental fancies which referred to the classical and medieval pasts into strikingly plain reflections of novel materials, functions, and technologies. Modern architecture promised the transformation of cities from overcrowded conurbations characterised by packed slums and dirty industries to spacious realms of generous housing and clean mechanised production set in parkland. At certain times and in certain cultures, it stood for the liberation of the future from the past. This Very Short Introduction explores the technical innovations that opened-up the cultural and intellectual opportunities for modern architecture to happen. Adam Sharr shows how the invention of steel and reinforced concrete radically altered possibilities for shaping buildings, transforming what architects were able to imagine, as did new systems for air conditioning and lighting. While architects weren't responsible for these innovations, they were among the first to appreciate how they could make the world look and feel different, in connection with imagery from other spheres like modern art and industrial design. Focusing on a selection of modern buildings that also symbolize bigger cultural ideas, Sharr discusses what modern architecture was like, why it was like that, and how it was imagined. Considering the work of some of the historians and critics who helped to shape modern architecture, he demonstrates how the field owes as much to its storytellers as to its buildings. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Waves: A Very Short Introduction

Waves: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Mike (Freelance acoustician) Goldsmith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/12/2018

We live in a world of waves. The Earth shakes to its foundations, the seas and oceans tremble incessantly, sounds reverberate through land, sea, and air. Beneath the skin, our brains and bodies are awash with waves of their own, and the Universe is filled by a vast spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, of which visible light is the narrowest sliver. Casting the net even wider, there are mechanical waves, quantum wave phenomena, and the now clearly detected gravitational waves. Look closer and deeper and more kinds of waves appear, down to the most fundamental level of reality. This Very Short Introduction looks at all the main kinds of wave, their sources, effects, and uses. Mike Goldsmith discusses how wave motion results in a range of phenomena, from reflection, diffraction, interference, and polarization in the case of light waves to beats and echoes for sound. All waves, however different, share many of the same features, and, as Goldsmith shows, for all their complexities many of their behaviours are fundamentally simple. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

The issue of medical ethics, from thorny moral questions such as euthanasia and the morality of killing to political questions such as the fair distribution of health care resources, is rarely out of today's media. This area of ethics covers a wide range of issues, from mental health to reproductive medicine, as well as including management issues such as resource allocation, and has proven to hold enduring interest for the general public as well as the medical practitioner. This Very Short Introduction provides an invaluable tool with which to think about the ethical values that lie at the heart of medicine. This new edition explores the ethical reasoning we can use to approach medical ethics, introducing the most important 'tools' of ethical reasoning, and discussing how argument, thought experiments, and intuition can be combined in the consideration of medical ethics. Considering its practical application, Tony Hope and Michael Dunn explore how medical ethics supports health professionals through the growing use of ethics expertise in clinical settings. They also contemplate the increasingly important place of medical ethics in the wider social context, particularly in this age of globalization, not only in healthcare practice, but also policy, discussions in the media, pressure group and activism settings, and in legal judgments. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Biometrics: A Very Short Introduction

Biometrics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael (Professor of Computer Vision, University of Kent) Fairhurst Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/12/2018

We live in a society which is increasingly interconnected, in which communication between individuals is mostly mediated via some electronic platform, and transactions are often carried out remotely. In such a world, traditional notions of trust and confidence in the identity of those with whom we are interacting, taken for granted in the past, can be much less reliable. Biometrics - the scientific discipline of identifying individuals by means of the measurement of unique personal attributes - provides a reliable means of establishing or confirming an individual's identity. These attributes include facial appearance, fingerprints, iris patterning, the voice, the way we write, or even the way we walk. The new technologies of biometrics have a wide range of practical applications, from securing mobile phones and laptops to establishing identity in bank transactions, travel documents, and national identity cards. This Very Short Introduction considers the capabilities of biometrics-based identity checking, from first principles to the practicalities of using different types of identification data. Michael Fairhurst looks at the basic techniques in use today, ongoing developments in system design, and emerging technologies, all aimed at improving precision in identification, and providing solutions to an increasingly wide range of practical problems. Considering how they may continue to develop in the future, Fairhurst explores the benefits and limitations of these pervasive and powerful technologies, and how they can effectively support our increasingly interconnected society. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Typography: A Very Short Introduction

Typography: A Very Short Introduction

Typography, the art of designing printed words, was once the domain of an elite few artists but has become an area with which millions of people engage daily. The widespread usage of digital devices from laptops to tablets and smart phones which are used for written communications means that we are regularly asked to make decisions about the fonts, sizes, and layouts we use in our writing. This broadening engagement with the field of typography has led to a perceptible shift from debates about legibility and technicalities to conversations about which fonts best reflect the writer's personality or style . In this Very Short Introduction, Paul Luna offers a broad definition of typography as design for reading, whether in print or on screens, where a set of visual choices are taken to make a written message more accessible, more easily transmitted, more significant, or more attractive. Considering the development of letterforms and the shapes of letter we use, Luna discusses the history behind our modern day letters and fonts, before considering the issues behind key typographic decisions, and the differences between printed and on-screen typography. Presenting any piece of typography as a fundamental design choice, Luna introduces the options available today, and explores the reasons why key typographic decisions are made. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Psychology of Music: A Very Short Introduction

The Psychology of Music: A Very Short Introduction

Music has been examined from multiple perspectives: as a product of human history, for example, or a product of human culture. But there is also a long tradition, intensified in recent decades, of thinking about music as a product of the human mind. Whether considering composition, performance, listening, or appreciation, the constraints and capabilities of the human mind play a formative role. The field that has emerged around this approach is known as the psychology of music. Written in a lively and accessible manner, this volume connects the science to larger questions about music that are of interest to practicing musicians, music therapists, musicologists, and the general public alike. For example: Why can one musical performance move an audience to tears, and another compel them to dance, clap, or snap along? How does a pump up playlist motivate someone at the gym? And why is that top-40 song stuck in everyone's head?

Charles Dickens: A Very Short Introduction

Charles Dickens: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jenny (Emeritus Professor at the University of Roehampton) Hartley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/11/2018

Charles Dickens is credited with creating some of the world's best-known fictional characters, and is widely regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. Even before reading the works of Dickens many people have met him already in some form or another. His characters have such vitality that they have leapt from his pages to enjoy flourishing lives of their own: The Artful Dodger, Miss Havisham, Scrooge, Fagin, Mr Micawber, and many many more. His portrait has been in our pockets, on our ten-pound notes; he is a national icon, indeed himself a generator of what Englishness signifies. In this Very Short Introduction Jenny Hartley explores the key themes running through Dickens's corpus of works, and considers how they reflect his attitudes towards the harsh realities of nineteenth century society and its institutions, such as the workhouses and prisons. Running alonside this is Dickens's relish of the carnivalesque; if there is a prison in almost every novel, there is also a theatre. She considers Dickens's multiple lives and careers: as magazine editor for two thirds of his working life, as travel writer and journalist, and his work on behalf of social causes including ragged schools and fallen women. She also shows how his public readings enthralled the readers he wanted to reach but also helped to kill him. Finally, Hartley considers what we mean when we use the term 'Dickensian' today, and how Dickens's enduring legacy marks him out as as a novelist different in kind from others. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. * This book was previously published in hardback as Charles Dickens: An Introduction

Adam Smith: A Very Short Introduction

Adam Smith: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Christopher J. (Honorary Research Professor, University of Glasgow) Berry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/11/2018

In 1776 Adam Smith (1723-90) wrote The Wealth of Nations , a book so foundational it has led to him being called the 'father of economics'. Today he is associated with the promotion of self-interest, a defence of greed and a criticism of any governmental 'interference' in market transactions which, if left to the 'invisible hand', will produce prosperity and liberty. Yet if Smith is actually read these associations are more a caricature than a faithful portrait. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Berry offers a balanced and nuanced view of this seminal thinker, embedding his fierce defence of free trade, competition, and assault on special interests in contemporary European history, politics, and philosophy. As Berry explores, Smith was far more than an economist. His book The Theory of Moral Sentiment, offered a complex account of ethics in the context of human social behaviour. His scope as a professor at the University of Glasgow, a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment, was extensive. Beyond courses in philosophy and jurisprudence he also gave classes covering history, literature, and language. In addition to his two major works he also wrote a pioneering study of the history of astronomy as an illustration of the motivations that drive humans to seek answers to questions. He produced, again derived from his Glasgow classroom, an analysis of the development of grammar and language. As Christopher Berry shows, Adam Smith was no narrow thinker, but rather one who produced not only one of the greatest books in the history of social science, but also a wide-ranging body of work that remains significant today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Psychiatry: A Very Short Introduction

Psychiatry: A Very Short Introduction

Psychiatry is an endlessly controversial endeavour, incorporating emotively-charged questions over the reality of mental illness, the medicalization of everyday life, and the role of nature versus nurture which cause constant discussion today, and on which almost everyone has an opinion. In this Very Short Introduction Tom Burns explores the nature of psychiatry, focusing on what it can and cannot do, and discussing why its history has been beset by dramatic shifts in emphasis and types of treatment. Considering the main disorders that have shaped its practice (such as schizophrenia and manic depression), he analyses how it differs from (and overlaps with) psychology and psychotherapy. Many of the controversies arise from its dual origin 200 years ago and the separate development of psychiatry with a more 'medical' approach in the asylums, rather than the psychological approach which birthed psychoanalysis and various forms of psychotherapy. Discussing philosophical issues of psychiatry's legitimacy, Burns explores the mistakes psychiatry has made and the blind alleys in its history, before looking forward to the likely changes in its practice with the coming of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Autobiography: A Very Short Introduction

Autobiography: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Laura (Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature and Fellow of New College, Oxford) Marcus Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2018

Autobiography is one of the most popular of written forms. From Casanova to Benjamin Franklin to the Kardashians, individuals throughout history have recorded their own lives and experiences. These personal writings are central to the work of literary critics, philosophers, historians and psychologists, who have found in autobiographies from across the centuries not only an understanding of the ways in which lives have been lived, but the most fundamental accounts of what it means to be a self in the world. In this Very Short Introduction Laura Marcus defines what we mean by 'autobiography', and considers its relationship with similar literary forms such as memoirs, journals, letters, diaries, and essays. Analysing the core themes in autobiographical writing, such as confession, conversion and testimony; romanticism and the journeying self; Marcus discusses the autobiographical consciousness (and the roles played by time, memory and identity), and considers the relationship between psychoanalysis and autobiography. Exploring the themes of self-portraiture and performance, Marcus also discusses the ways in which fiction and autobiography have shaped each other. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Napoleon

Napoleon

Author: David A (Department of History Princeton University) Bell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2018

This Very Short Introduction provides a concise, accurate, and lively portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte's character and career, situating him firmly in historical context. David Bell emphasizes the astonishing sense of human possibility-for both good and ill-that Napoleon represented. By his late twenties, Napoleon was already one of the greatest generals in European history. At thirty, he had become absolute master of Europe's most powerful country. In his early forties, he ruled a European empire more powerful than any since Rome, fighting wars that changed the shape of the continent and brought death to millions. Then everything collapsed, leading him to spend his last years in miserable exile in the South Atlantic. Bell emphasizes the importance of the French Revolution in understanding Napoleon's career. The revolution made possible the unprecedented concentration of political authority that Napoleon accrued, and his success in mobilizing human and material resources. Without the political changes brought about by the revolution, Napoleon could not have fought his wars. Without the wars, he could not have seized and held onto power. Though his virtual dictatorship betrayed the ideals of liberty and equality, his life and career were revolutionary.

Saints: A Very Short Introduction

Saints: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Simon (Senior Lecturer in History, University of Birmingham) Yarrow Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/10/2018

The idea of saints and sainthood are familiar to all, irrelevant of religious faith. In this Very Short Introduction, Simon Yarrow looks at the origins, ideas, and definitions of sainthood, sanctity, and saints in the early Church, tracing their development in history and explaining the social roles saints played in the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds. Along the way Yarrow considers the treatment of saints as objects of literary and artistic expression and interpretation, and as examples of idealised male and female heroism, and compares Christian saints and holy figures to venerated figures in other religious cultures, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. He concludes by considering the experiences of devotees to saints, and looking at how saints continue to be a powerful presence in our modern world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

African Politics: A Very Short Introduction

African Politics: A Very Short Introduction

Africa is a continent of 54 countries and over a billion people. However, despite the rich diversity of the African experience, it is striking that continuations and themes seem to be reflected across the continent, particularly south of the Sahara. Questions of underdevelopment, outside exploitation, and misrule are characteristic of many - if not most-states in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this Very Short Introduction Ian Taylor explores how politics is practiced on the African continent, considering the nature of the state in Sub-Saharan Africa and why its state structures are generally weaker than elsewhere in the world. Exploring the historical and contemporary factors which account for Africa's underdevelopment, he also analyses why some African countries suffer from high levels of political violence while others are spared. Unveilling the ways in which African state and society actually function beyond the formal institutional facade, Taylor discusses how external factors - both inherited and contemporary - act upon the continent. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Sociology: A Very Short Introduction

Sociology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Steve (Professor of Sociology, University of Aberdeen) Bruce Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/10/2018

Drawing on studies of social class, crime and deviance, education, work in bureaucracies and changes in religious and political organizations, this Very Short Introduction explores the tension between the individual's place in society and society's role in shaping the individual, and demonstrates the value of sociology for understanding the modern world. In this new edition Steve Bruce discusses the continuing arguments for social egalitarianism, considering issues such as gay marriage, women in combat roles, and the 2010 Equality Act to debunk contemporary arguments against parity. As gender divisions are increasingly questioned he looks ahead to the likely consequences of this for society. Delving into the theory of sociology, Bruce also argues that the habit of dividing sociology into apparently competing 'sects' is misleading, and shows how a new understanding of the disciplinary background of many of the most famous theorists, which shows that much social theory is actually philosophy or literary theory, will prove useful to today's sociologists. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Glaciation: A Very Short Introduction

Glaciation: A Very Short Introduction

Author: David J. A. (Professor of Physical Geography, Durham University) Evans Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/10/2018

Vast, majestic, and often stunningly beautiful, glaciers lock up some 10% of the world's freshwater. These great bodies of ice play an important part in the Earth system, carving landscapes and influencing climate on regional and hemispheric scales, as well as having a significant impact on global sea level. Throughout time, the Earth has experienced various major glaciations in its deep history, long before the ice ages of the Quaternary, and the observed effects of climate change on glaciers have recently brought them to the forefront of public attention This Very Short Introduction offers an overview of glaciers and ice sheets as systems, considering the role of geomorphology and sedimentology in studying them, and their impacts on our planet in terms of erosional and depositional processes. Looking at our glaciers today, and their ongoing processes, David Evans considers the extent to which we can use this knowledge in reconstructing and interpreting ancient glacial landscapes. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction

The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction

While children are a relatively unchanging fact of life, childhood is a constantly shifting concept. Through the millennia, the age at which a child becomes a youth and a youth becomes an adult has varied by gender, class, religion, ethnicity, place, and economic need. As author James Marten explores in this Very Short Introduction, so too have the realities of childhood, each life shaped by factors such as education, expectation, and conflict (or lack thereof). Indeed, ancient Roman children lived very differently than those born of today's Generation Z. Experiences of childhood have been shaped in classrooms and on factory floors, in family homes and orphanages, and on battlefields and in front of television sets. In addressing this diversity, The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction takes a global, expansive view of the features of childhood that have shaped childhood throughout history and continue to shape it now. From the rules of Confucian childrearing in twelfth-century China to the struggles of children living as slaves in the Americas or as cotton mill workers in Industrial Age Britain, Marten takes his inspiration from the idea that the lives of children reveal important and sometimes uncomfortable truths about civilization.

Innovation: A Very Short Introduction

Innovation: A Very Short Introduction

What is innovation? How is innovation used in business? How can we use it to succeed? Innovation, the ways ideas are made valuable, plays an essential role in economic and social development, and is an increasingly topical issue. Over the last 150 years our world has hit an accelerated rate of transformation. From aeroplanes to television and penicillin, and from radios to frozen food and digital money, the fruits of innovation surround us. This Very Short Introduction looks at what innovation is and why it affects us so profoundly. It examines how it occurs, who stimulates it, how it is pursued, and what its outcomes are, both positive and negative. Considering innovation today, and discussing future disruptive technologies such as AI, which have important implications for work and employment, Mark Dodgson and David Gann consider the extent to which our understanding of innovation has developed over the past century and how it might be used to interpret the global economy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Artificial Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction

Artificial Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Margaret A. (Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex) Boden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/09/2018

The applications of Artificial Intelligence lie all around us; in our homes, schools and offices, in our cinemas, in art galleries and - not least - on the Internet. The results of Artificial Intelligence have been invaluable to biologists, psychologists, and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning, and language from a fresh angle. As a concept, Artificial Intelligence has fuelled and sharpened the philosophical debates concerning the nature of the mind, intelligence, and the uniqueness of human beings. In this Very Short Introduction , Margaret A. Boden reviews the philosophical and technological challenges raised by Artificial Intelligence, considering whether programs could ever be really intelligent, creative or even conscious, and shows how the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence has helped us to appreciate how human and animal minds are possible. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Sexual Selection: A Very Short Introduction

Sexual Selection: A Very Short Introduction

What is responsible for the differences between the sexes in so many animals, from the brilliant plumage of birds of paradise to the antlers on deer? And why are the traits that distinguish the sexes sometimes apparently detrimental to survival? Even when they look more or less alike, why do males and females sometimes behave differently? Questions like these have intrigued scientists and the public alike for many years, and new discoveries are showing us both how wildly variable the natural world is, and how some basic principles can help explain much of that variation. Like natural selection, sexual selection is a process that results from differential representation of genes in successive generations. Under sexual selection, however, the crucial characteristics that determine whether an individual reproduces depend on sexual competition, rather than survival ability. This Very Short Introduction considers the history of our understanding of sexual selection, from Darwin's key insights to the modern day. Considering the investment animals place on reproduction, variation in mating systems, sexual conflict, and the origin of sexual dimorphism, Marlene Zuk and Leigh Simmons discuss questions such as whether females can really choose between males on aesthetic grounds, and how sexual conflict is resolved in different species. They conclude with a consideration of the thorny question of how, and even if, sexual selection theory applies to humans. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Book of Common Prayer: A Very Short Introduction

The Book of Common Prayer: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Brian (Anniversary Professor at the University of York) Cummings Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/09/2018

The Book of Common Prayer is one of the most influential books in history. First published in the reign of Edward VI, in 1549, it was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. For nearly five centuries, it has formed the order of worship for established Christianity in England. More listeners have heard these prayers, it is said, than the soliloquies of Shakespeare. As British imperial ambitions spread, the Book of Common Prayer became the primary instrument (at least as much as the King James Bible) of English culture, firstly in Ireland in 1551. When the Puritans fled to America in 1620 it was to escape the discipline imposed by of the Book of Common Prayer, yet the book came to embody official religion in America before and after Independence, and is still in use. Today it is a global book: it was the first book printed in many languages, from north America to southern Africa, to the Indian sub-continent. In this Very Short Introduction Brian Cummings tells the fascinating history of the Book of Common Prayer, and explains why it is easily misunderstood. Designed in the 1540s as a radical Protestant answer to Catholic superstition , within a century (during the English Civil Wars) radical Christians regarded the Book of Common Prayer as itself superstitious and even (paradoxically) Papist . Changing in meaning and context over time, the Book of Common Prayer has acted as a cultural symbol, affecting the everyday conduct of life as much as the spiritual, and dividing conformity from non-conformity, in social terms as well as religious, from birth to marriage to death. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction

American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction

In recent decades, culture-the values, attitudes, beliefs, and myths of a particular society and the objects through which they are organized-has earned prominent stature in the annals of American history. The United States often brings to mind Uncle Sam and the cowboys of the Old West, or the speeches of JFK and lyrics of Madonna. Words and images such as these have the power to represent, or contest, national, civic, and social identities. From the Boston Tea Party to the Dodgers, from the blues to Andy Warhol, dime novels to Disneyland, the history of American culture tells us how previous generations of Americans have imagined themselves, their nation, and their relationship to the world and its peoples. This Very Short Introduction lays out a chronological map of American culture, its thematic currents, and its creation by social groups ranging from the straight-laced Puritans of colonial New England to the techies of today's Silicon Valley. In doing so, it emphasizes the role of culture in the shaping of national identity. Across the lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, generation, and geography, diverse Americans have helped to forge a national culture with an ultimately global reach, inventing stories to underscore the problems and possibilities of an American way of life.

Abolitionism

Abolitionism

The abolitionist movement launched the global human rights struggle in the 18th and 19th centuries and redefined the meaning of equality throughout the Atlantic world. Even in the 21st century, it remains a touchstone of democratic activism-a timeless example of mobilizing against injustice. As famed black abolitionist Frederick Douglass commented in the 1890s, the antislavery struggle constituted a grand army of activists whose labors would cast a long shadow over American history. This introduction to the abolitionist movement, written by African American and abolition expert Richard Newman, highlights the key people, institutions, and events that shaped the antislavery struggle between the American Revolutionary and Civil War eras as well as the major themes that guide scholarly understandings of the antislavery struggle. From early abolitionist activism in the Anglo American world and the impact of slave revolutions on antislavery reformers to the rise of black pamphleteers and the emergence of antislavery women before the Civil War, the study of the abolitionist movement has been completely reoriented during the past decade. Where before scholars focused largely on radical (white) abolitionists along the Atlantic seaboard in the years just before the Civil War, they now understand abolitionism via an ever-expanding roster of activists through both time and space. While this book will examine famous antislavery figures such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, it will also underscore the significance of early abolitionist lawsuits, the impact of the Haitian Revolution on both black and white abolitionists in the United States, and women's increasingly prominent role as abolitionist editors, organizers, and orators. By drawing on the exciting insights of recent work on these and other themes, a very short introduction to the abolitionist movement will provide a compelling and up-to-date narrative of the American antislavery struggle

Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Brad (Professor of Philosophy and Classics, Yale University) Inwood Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/08/2018

Stoicism is two things: a long past philosophical school of ancient Greece and Rome, and an enduring philosophical movement that still inspires people in the twenty-first century to re-think and re-organize their lives in order to achieve personal satisfaction. What is the connection between them? This Very Short Introduction provides an introductory account of Stoic philosophy, and tells the story of how ancient Stoicism survived and evolved into the movement we see today. Exploring the roots of the school in the philosophy of fourth century BCE Greece, Brad Inwood examines its basic history and doctrines and its relationship to the thought of Plato, Aristotle and his successors, and the Epicureans. Sketching the history of the school's reception in the western tradition, he argues that, despite the differences between ancient and contemporary Stoics, there is a common core of philosophical insight that unites the modern version not just to Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius but also to the school's original founders, Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus. Inwood concludes by considering the place of Stoicism in modern life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Holy Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction

The Holy Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Joachim (Professor of German History and Thought, University of Cambridge) Whaley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/08/2018

Voltaire's description of the Holy Roman Empire as 'neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire' is often cited to underline its worthlessness. German historians traditionally despised it because it had allegedly impeded German unification. Since 1945 scholars have been more positive but the empire's history and significance is still largely misunderstood. In this Very Short Introduction Joachim Whaley outlines the fascinating thousand-year history of the Holy Roman Empire. Founded in 800 on the basis of Charlemagne's Frankish kingdom, its imperial title went to the German monarchy which became established in the ninth and ten centuries. They claimed Charlemagne's legacy, including his role as protector of the papacy and guardian of the Church. Around 1500 the title Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was adopted. An elective monarchy, the empire gradually developed from a feudal monarchy into a legal system that pacified the territories and cities of German-speaking Europe. By 1519 it had a supreme court and a regional enforcement system ended feuding. Throughout its lifetime, the empire's growth and history was shaped by the major developments in Europe, from the Reformation, to the Thirty Years War, to the French revolutionary wars, which led to Napoleon destroying the empire in 1806. The sense of a common history over a thousand years and the legal traditions established by the empire have shaped the history of German-speaking Europe ever since. Joachim Whaley analyses the empire's crucial impact and role in the history of European power and politics, and shows that there has never been a more durable political system in German history. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Geology: A Very Short Introduction

Geology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jan (Professor of Palaeobiology, Department of Geology, University of Leicester) Zalasiewicz Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/08/2018

Ranging across the 4.6 billion year history of the planet, geology is the subject that encompasses almost all that we see around us, in one way or another, and also much that we cannot see, beneath our feet, and on other planets. The fruits of geology provide most of the materials that give us shelter, and most of the energy that drives our modern lives. Within the study of geology lie some of the clues to the extraordinary impact our species is going to play out on the planet, in centuries and millennia to come. In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalasiewicz gives a brief introduction to the fascinating field of geology. Describing how the science developed from its early beginnings, he looks at some of the key discoveries that have transformed it, before delving into its various subfields, such as sedimentology, tectonics, and stratigraphy. Analysing the geological foundations of the Earth, Zalasiewicz explains the interlocking studies of tectonics, geophysics, and igneous and metamorphic petrology and geochemistry; and describes how rocks are dated by radiometric dating. Considering the role and importance of geology in the finding and exploitation of resources (including fracking), he also discusses its place in environmental issues, such as foundations for urban structures and sites for landfill, and in tackling issues associated with climate change. Zalasiewicz concludes by discussing the exciting future and frontiers of the field, such as the exploration of the geology of Mars. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Synthetic Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Synthetic Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jamie A. (Professor of Experimental Anatomy, University of Edinburgh) Davies Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/08/2018

Synthetic biology is one of the 21st century's fastest growing fields of research, as important for technology as for basic science. Building on traditional genetic engineering, which was restricted to changing one or two genes, synthetic biology uses multi-gene modules and pathways to make very significant changes to what cells can do. Synthetic biologists aim to have an impact in fields as diverse as drug manufacture, biofuel production, tackling pollution, and medical diagnostics. Further ahead, synthetic biology may even make possible the long-standing goal of creating new life from non-living starting materials. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise explanation of what synthetic biology is, and how it is beginning to affect many fields of technology. Jamie Davies also discusses the considerable controversies surrounding synthetic biology, from questions over the assumption that engineering concepts can be applied to living systems easily, to scepticism over the claims for commercial promise, fears that the dangers of engineering life are worse than its benefits, and concerns over whether humans should be designing living systems at all. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Poverty: A Very Short Introduction

Poverty: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Philip N. (Centennial Professor of Economics, Swarthmore College) Jefferson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/08/2018

No one wants to live in poverty. Few people would want others to do so. Yet, millions of people worldwide live in poverty. According to the World Bank, over 700 million people lived on less than US $2 a day in 2013. Why is that? What has been done about it in the past? And what is being done about it now? In this Very Short Introduction Philip N. Jefferson explores how the answers to these questions lie in the social, political, economic, educational, and technological processes that impact all of us throughout our lives. The degree of vulnerability is all that differentiates us. He shows how a person's level of vulnerability to adverse changes in their life is very much dependent on the circumstances of their birth, including where their family lived, the schools they attended, whether it was peacetime or wartime, whether they had access to clean water, and whether they are male or female. Arguing that whilst poverty is ancient and enduring, the conversation about it is always new and evolving, Jefferson looks at the history of poverty, and the practical and analytical efforts we have made to eradicate it, and the prospects for further poverty alleviation in the future. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Prehistory: A Very Short Introduction

Prehistory: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Chris (Professor of European Archaeology, Oxford University) Gosden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/07/2018

Prehistory covers the period of some 4 million years before the start of written history, when our earliest ancestors, the Australopithecines, existed in Africa. But this is relatively recent compared to whole history of the earth of some 4.5 billion years. A key aspect of prehistory is that it provides a sense of scale, throwing recent ways of life into perspective. Humans and their ancestors lived in many different ways and the cultural variety we see now is just a tiny fraction of that which has existed over millions of years. Humans are part of the broader evolution of landscapes and communities of plants and animals, but Homo sapiens is also the only species to have made a real impact on planetary systems. To understand such an impact, we need a grasp of our longest term development and ways of life. In this new edition of his Very Short Introduction, Chris Gosden invites us to think seriously about who we are by considering who we have been. As he explains, many new discoveries have been made in archaeology over the last ten years, and a new framework for prehistory is emerging. A greater understanding of Chinese and central Asian prehistory has thrown Eurasian prehistory in quite a different light, with flows of the influence of culture over large areas now evident. This has eaten away at the traditional view of human progress around the invention of agriculture, the development of cities and (much later) the industrial revolution, and given us new geographies to think about. Chris Gosden explores the new landscape of our prehistory, and considers the way the different geographical locations weave together. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction

Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction

Straddling the equator, Southeast Asia comprises Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines, as well as Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, and East Timor. Despite its extraordinary diversity of ethnicities, religions, and political systems, Southeast Asia plays a key role in global economies and geopolitics, especially in light of its strategic position bordering China and India. This Very Short Introduction explores the contemporary character of Southeast Asia's national societies through the lens of their historical evolution, from the eras of indigenous kingdoms and colonies under Western rule to the present's independent nation states. Deftly combining historical analysis and geopolitical insights, the book paints a bird's eye view of contemporary Southeast Asia as a community of diverse societies and traditions as well as a political theater-of-action nested between India and China and tangled in global economic traffic patterns, balance of powers, and environmental forces. As James R. Rush explains, archaic structures, such as religious and ethnic rivalries, tenacious feudal hierarchies, and age-old trade and migration patterns, remain rooted in today's Southeast Asia beneath the surface of modern national governments. The book draws on a wide range of examples from the major nations, including the ethno-religious violence in Myanmar, the Muslim-led rebellion in the southern Philippines, the Thai-Cambodian territorial rivalries, the Confucian-inspired governance in Singapore, the military rule and democratization in Indonesia, the environmental consequences of agribusiness, mining, and unchecked urbanization, and the big-power alignments and tensions involving the United States, China, and Japan. By delving into the cultural, political, and geographical background of Southeast Asia, Rush shows that Southeast Asia is unquestionably modern, but it is modern in distinctively Southeast Asian ways.

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Charles (Professor of International History Emeritus, Keele University) Townshend Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/06/2018

Is one person's terrorist another's freedom fighter? Is terrorism crime or war? Can there be a 'War on Terror'? For many, the terrorist attacks of September 2001 changed the face of the world, pushing terrorism to the top of political agendas, and leading to a series of world events including the war in Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan. The recent terror attacks in various European cities have shown that terrorism remains a crucial issue today. Charting a clear path through the efforts to understand and explain modern terrorism, Charles Townshend examines the historical, ideological, and local roots of terrorist violence. Starting from the question of why terrorists find it so easy to seize public attention, this new edition analyses the emergence of terrorism as a political strategy, and discusses the objectives which have been pursued by users of this strategy from French revolutionaries to Islamic jihadists. Considering the kinds of groups and individuals who adopt terrorism, Townshend discusses the emergence of ISIS and the upsurge in individual suicide action, and explores the issues involved in finding a proportionate response to the threat they present, particularly by liberal democratic societies. Analysing the growing use of knives and other edged weapons in attacks, and the issue of 'cyberterror', Townshend details the use of counterterrorist measures, from control orders to drone strikes, including the Belgian and French responses to the Brussels, Paris, Nice, and Rouen attacks. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Demography: A Very Short Introduction

Demography: A Very Short Introduction

The generation into which each person is born, the demographic composition of that cohort, and its relation to those born at the same time in other places influences not only a person's life chances, but also the economic and political structures within which that life is lived; the person's access to social and natural resources (food, water, education, jobs, sexual partners); and even the length of that person's life. Demography, literally the study of people, addresses the size, distribution, composition, and density of populations, and considers the impact the drivers which mediate these will have on both individual lives and the changing structure of human populations. This Very Short Introduction considers the way in which the global population has evolved over time and space. Sarah Harper discusses the theorists, theories, and methods involved in studying population trends and movements, before looking at the emergence of new demographic sub-disciplines and addressing some of the future population challenges of the 21st century. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction

The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction

Though the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, its impact on our lives is as recent as today's news. Claims and counterclaims about the constitutionality of governmental actions are a habit of American politics. This document, which its framers designed to limit power, often has made political conflict inevitable. It also has accommodated and legitimized the political and social changes of a vibrant, powerful democratic nation. A product of history's first modern revolution, the Constitution embraced a new formula for government: it restrained power on behalf of liberty, but it also granted power to promote and protect liberty. The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction explores the major themes that have shaped American constitutional history- federalism, the balance of powers, property, representation, equality, rights, and security. Informed by the latest scholarship, this book places constitutional history within the context of American political and social history. We do not operate today under the same Constitution created by our founding fathers or the Constitution as completed by the Bill of Rights in 1791 or even the one revised by the Reconstruction amendments. Nor are we the same nation. As our circumstances have changed, so has our Constitution. Today we face serious challenges to the nation's constitutional legacy. Endless wars, a sharply divided electorate and deadlocked government, economic inequality, immigration, cybersecurity and privacy, and foreign interference in the nation's democratic processes, among a host of other issues, have placed demands on government and on society that test our constitutional values. Understanding how the Constitution has evolved will help us adapt its principles to the challenges of our age.

Decadence: A Very Short Introduction

Decadence: A Very Short Introduction

The historical trajectory of decadent culture runs from ancient Rome, to nineteenth-century Paris, Victorian London, fin de siecle Vienna, Weimar Berlin, and beyond. The first of these, the decline of Rome, provides the pattern for both aesthetic and social decadence, a pattern that artists and writers in the nineteenth century imitated, emulated, parodied, and otherwise manipulated for aesthetic gain. What begins as the moral condemnation of modernity in mid-nineteenth century France on the part of decadent authors such as Charles Baudelaire ends up as the perverse celebration of the pessimism that imperial decline, whether real or imagined, involves. This delight in decline informs the so-called breviary, or even bible, of decadence from Joris-Karl Huysmans's A Rebours, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Aubrey Beardsley's drawings, Gustav Klimt's paintings, and numerous other works. In this Very Short Introduction, David Weir explores these conflicting attitudes towards modernity present in decadent culture by examining the difference between aesthetic decadence - the excess of artifice - and social decadence, which involves excess in a variety of forms, whether perversely pleasurable or gratuitously cruel. Such contrariness between aesthetic and social decadence led some of its practitioners to substitute art for life and to stress the importance of taste over morality, a maneuver with far-reaching consequences, especially as decadence enters the realm of popular culture today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Geophysics: A Very Short Introduction

Geophysics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: William (Professor Emeritus, Swiss Federal Institute Of Technology, Zurich) Lowrie Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/04/2018

Geophysics is the physics of the Earth. Central to the Earth Sciences today, it encompasses areas such as seismology, volcanism, plate tectonics, gravitational anomalies, and the Earth's magnetic field (present and past, as captured in rocks), all of which give clues to both the structure and the working of the Earth. In this Very Short Introduction, William Lowrie describes the internal and external processes that affect the planet, as well as the principles and methods of geophysics used to investigate them. He explains how analysis of the seismic waves produced in earthquakes reveals the internal structure of the Earth. Geophysicists have established that the greatest source of energy powering geological processes is the Earth's internal heat. Deep inside the Earth, the temperature is high enough to produce a fluid outer core of molten iron. It is the motion in this molten iron layer that produces the Earth's magnetic field, which shields the planet against harmful radiation from the Sun and outer space, and thus makes the planet habitable. Lowrie describes how the magnetic field also magnetizes rocks during their formation, leaving a permanent record of the ancient field and its direction that geophysicists have learned to use to interpret past motions of the continents and tectonic plates. From analyses of Earth's deepest interior to measurements made from Earth-orbiting satellites, Lowrie shows how geophysical exploration is vitally important in the search for mineral resources, and emphasizes our need to understand the history of our planet and the processes that govern its continuing evolution. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Criminology: A Very Short Introduction

Criminology: A Very Short Introduction

Crime is big news. From murder to theft to drug gangs, crime and criminal justice affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. Hardly surprisingly, crime has been pushed high up the public policy agenda across the world. But how can we measure crime, or evaluate the effectiveness of preventative measures? Does the threat of prison reduce someone's likelihood of reoffending, or would rehabilitation be more constructive? In this Very Short Introduction Tim Newburn considers how we can study trends in crime, and use them to inform preventative policy and criminal justice. Analysing the history of the subject, he reflects on our understanding of crime and responses to crime in earlier historical periods. Considering trends in crime in the developed world, Newburn discusses its causes, exploring the relationship between drugs and crime, analysing what we know about why people stop offending, and looking at both formal and informal responses to crime. Newburn concludes by discussing what role criminology can plausibly be anticipated to have in crime control and politics, and what its limits are. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Genomics: A Very Short Introduction

Genomics: A Very Short Introduction

Genomics has transformed the biological sciences. From epidemiology and medicine to evolution and forensics, the ability to determine an organism's complete genetic makeup has changed the way science is done and the questions that can be asked of it. Its most celebrated achievement was the Human Genome Project, a technologically challenging endeavor that took thousands of scientists around the world 13 years and over 3 billion US dollars to complete. In this Very Short Introduction John Archibald explores the science of genomics and its rapidly expanding toolbox. Sequencing a human genome now takes only a few days and costs as little as $1,000. The genomes of simple bacteria and viruses can be sequenced in a matter of hours on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. The resulting sequences can be used to better understand our biology in health and disease and to 'personalize' medicine. Archibald shows how the field of genomics is on the cusp of another quantum leap; the implications for science and society are profound. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Development: A Very Short Introduction

Development: A Very Short Introduction

What do we mean by development? How can citizens, governments and the international community foster development? The process by which nations escape poverty and achieve economic and social progress has been the subject of extensive examination for hundreds of years.The notion of development itself has evolved from an original preoccupation with incomes and economic growth to a much broader understanding of development. In this Very Short Introduction Ian Goldin considers the contributions that education, health, gender, equity, and other dimensions of human well-being make to development, and discusses why it is also necessary to include the role of institutions and the rule of law as well as sustainability and environmental concerns. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction

Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Erle C. (Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland) Ellis Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/04/2018

The proposal that the impact of humanity on the planet has left a distinct footprint, even on the scale of geological time, has recently gained much ground. Global climate change, shifting global cycles of the weather, widespread pollution, radioactive fallout, plastic accumulation, species invasions, the mass extinction of species - these are just some of the many indicators that we will leave a lasting record in rock, the scientific basis for recognizing new time intervals in Earth's history. The Anthropocene, as the proposed new epoch has been named, is regularly in the news. Even with such robust evidence, the proposal to formally recognize our current time as the Anthropocene remains controversial both inside and outside the scholarly world, kindling intense debates. The reason is clear. The Anthropocene represents far more than just another interval of geologic time. Instead, the Anthropocene has emerged as a powerful new narrative, a concept through which age-old questions about the meaning of nature and even the nature of humanity are being revisited and radically revised. This Very Short Introduction explains the science behind the Anthropocene and the many proposals about when to mark its beginning: the nuclear tests of the 1950s? The beginnings of agriculture? The origins of humans as a species? Erle Ellis considers the many ways that the Anthropocene's evolving paradigm is reshaping the sciences, stimulating the humanities, and foregrounding the politics of life on a planet transformed by humans. The Anthropocene remains a work in progress. Is this the story of an unprecedented planetary disaster? Or of newfound wisdom and redemption? Ellis offers an insightful discussion of our role in shaping the planet, and how this will influence our future on many fronts. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction

Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ben (Professor of European Literature, University of Kent) Hutchinson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/04/2018

Comparative Literature is both the past and the future of literary studies. Its history is intimately linked to the political upheavals of modernity: from colonial empire-building in the nineteenth century, via the Jewish diaspora of the twentieth century, to the postcolonial culture wars of the twenty-first century, attempts at 'comparison' have defined the international agenda of literature. But what is comparative literature? Ambitious readers looking to stretch themselves are usually intrigued by the concept, but uncertain of its implications. And rightly so, in many ways: even the professionals cannot agree on a single term, calling it comparative in English, compared in French, and comparing in German. The very term itself, when approached comparatively, opens up a Pandora's box of cultural differences. Yet this, in a nutshell, is the whole point of comparative literature. To look at literature comparatively is to realize just how much can be learned by looking over the horizon of one's own culture; it is to discover not only more about other literatures, but also about one's own; and it is to participate in the great utopian dream of understanding the way nations and languages interact. In an age that is paradoxically defined by migration and border crossing on the one hand, and by a retreat into monolingualism and monoculturalism on the other, the cross-cultural agenda of comparative literature has become increasingly central to the future of the Humanities. We are all, in fact, comparatists, constantly making connections across languages, cultures, and genres as we read. The question is whether we realise it. This Very Short Introduction tells the story of Comparative Literature as an agent of international relations, from the point of view both of scholarship and of cultural history more generally. Outlining the complex history and competing theories of comparative literature, Ben Hutchinson offers an accessible means of entry into a notoriously slippery subject, and shows how comparative literature can be like a Rorschach test, where people see in it what they want to see. Ultimately, Hutchinson places comparative literature at the very heart of literary criticism, for as George Steiner once noted, 'to read is to compare'. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Viruses: A Very Short Introduction

Viruses: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Dorothy H. (Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh) Crawford Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/04/2018

Viruses are big news. From pandemics such as HIV, to swine flu, and SARS, we are constantly being bombarded with information about new lethal infections. In this Very Short Introduction Dorothy Crawford demonstrates how clever these entities really are. From their discovery and the unravelling of their intricate structures, Crawford demonstrates how these tiny parasites are by far the most abundant life forms on the planet. With up to two billion of them in each litre of sea water, viruses play a vital role in controlling the marine environment, and are essential to the ocean's delicate ecosystem. In this fully updated edition, Crawford recounts stories of renowned killer viruses such as the recent Ebola and Zika epidemics, as well as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and considers the importance of air travel in facilitating the international spread of viruses in the twenty first century. Discussing the impact of global warming, which is increasing the range of vector-transmitted viruses such as dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, she also considers the effect this will have on native populations in subtropical and temperate climates of the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. By examining our lifestyle in the 21st century, Crawford looks to the future to ask whether we can ever live in harmony with viruses, and considers the ways in which we may need to adapt to prevent emerging viruses with devastating consequences. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

American Naval History: A Very Short Introduction

American Naval History: A Very Short Introduction

This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nation's fortunes: John Paul Jones' attacks on the British during the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Jima. The book illuminates the changes-technological, institutional, and functional-of the U.S. Navy from its days as a small frigate navy through the age of steam and steel to the modern era of electronics and missiles. Historian Craig L. Symonds captures the evolving culture of the navy and debates between policymakers about what role the institution should play in world affairs. Internal and external challenges dramatically altered the size and character of the navy, with long periods of quiet inertia alternating with rapid expansion emerging out of crises. The history of the navy reflects the history of the nation as a whole, and its many changes derive in large part from the changing role of the United States itself.

The Hellenistic Age: A Very Short Introduction

The Hellenistic Age: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Peter (Associate Professor in Ancient History, University of Oxford) Thonemann Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/03/2018

The three centuries which followed the conquests of Alexander are perhaps the most thrilling of all periods of ancient history. This was an age of cultural globalization: in the third century BC, a single language carried you from the Rhone to the Indus. A Celt from the lower Danube could serve in the mercenary army of a Macedonian king ruling in Egypt, and a Greek philosopher from Cyprus could compare the religions of the Brahmins and the Jews on the basis of first-hand knowledge of both. Kings from Sicily to Tajikistan struggled to meet the challenges of ruling multi-ethnic states, and Greek city-states came together under the earliest federal governments known to history. The scientists of Ptolemaic Alexandria measured the circumference of the earth, while pioneering Greek argonauts explored the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic coast of Africa. Drawing on inscriptions, papyri, coinage, poetry, art, and archaeology, in this Very Short Introduction Peter Thonemann opens up the history and culture of the vast Hellenistic world, from the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) to the Roman conquest of the Ptolemaic kingdom (30 BC). ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Organized Crime: A Very Short Introduction

Organized Crime: A Very Short Introduction

For many people around the world, instances of what is described as organized crime may be part of their everyday experience; in their neighbourhoods, their streets, and the places they work and live. Policymakers, law enforcement, and the media rarely fail to bring up the issue when discussing the nature and seriousness of contemporary criminal threats, and the appropriate responses towards them. Many more people are familiar with the notion of organized crime, as the film and TV industry regularly draw on fictional and real figures and situations. Organized crime feels like a tangible, inescapable issue in today's world. In this Very Short introduction, Georgios A. Antonopoulos and Georgios Papanicolaou uncover the reality of organized crime in our world today. Shining a light on the people involved in organized crime, Antonopoulos and Papanicolaou question whether the term 'organized' is used to evoke the image, the operations, and power of a legitimate organization, such as a corporation. Discussing whether there are particular crimes that the label 'organized crime' applies to, or if any crime can be organized, they also consider what happens when organized crime extends beyond borders. Using examples from across the globe, they analyse the different cultural traditions of organized crime, such as the Mafia, Yakuza, and Triads, and also the nature of organized crime, from arms trafficking and drug dealing to extortion. Finally they explore the methods and agencies in place to control and prevent organized crime. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Veterinary Science: A Very Short Introduction

Veterinary Science: A Very Short Introduction

Author: James (Chief Veterinary Officer of the RSPCA) Yeates Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/03/2018

Every year billions of animals, from housecats to racehorses to pythons, are treated by veterinarians. The use of veterinary science to treat the health of animals has a long history; for the past five centuries it has developed as our understanding of animals' fundamental biology, pathology, and pharmacology has grown. Rapid global changes expected in the twenty-first century will require the profession to respond proactively, embracing new challenges and opportunities. James Yeates, Chief Veterinary Officer of the RSPCA, introduces the field of veterinary science, covering the history of its scientific and clinical aspects from early practices to recent challenges such as the outbreak of BSE and antibiotic resistance, and considering the differences between human medicine and veterinary medicine. Analysing the key roles played by diagnosis, treatment, and prevention with regard to the health of farm animals and pets, he relates this to wider aspects concerning public health, such as zoonoses (diseases that jump from animals to humans). Yeates also covers recent 'One Health' approaches involving the health of both humans and animals, seen as synergistic, and discusses the challenges for the future of veterinary medicine, including the ethical dilemmas in balancing the interests of owners and animals when they do not coincide. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Philosophy of Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Philosophy of Religion: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tim (Professor of Philosophy, Monash University) Bayne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/03/2018

What is the philosophy of religion? How can we distinguish it from theology on the one hand and the psychology/sociology of religious belief on the other? What does it mean to describe God as 'eternal'? And should religious people want there to be good arguments for the existence of God, or is religious belief only authentic in the absence of these good arguments? In this Very Short Introduction Tim Bayne introduces the field of philosophy of religion, and engages with some of the most burning questions that philosophers discuss. Considering how 'religion' should be defined, and whether we even need to be able to define it in order to engage in the philosophy of religion, he goes on to discuss whether the existence of God matters. Exploring the problem of evil, Bayne also debates the connection between faith and reason, and the related question of what role reason should play in religious contexts. Shedding light on the relationship between science and religion, Bayne finishes by considering the topics of reincarnation and the afterlife. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Applied Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction

Applied Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction

Mathematics is playing an increasing important role in society and the sciences, enhancing our ability to use models and handle data. While pure mathematics is mostly interested in abstract structures, applied mathematics sits at the interface between this abstract world and the world in which we live. This area of mathematics takes its nourishment from society and science and, in turn, provides a unified way to understand problems arising in diverse fields. This Very Short Introduction presents a compact yet comprehensive view of the field of applied mathematics, and explores its relationships with (pure) mathematics, science, and engineering. Explaining the nature of applied mathematics, Alain Goriely discusses its early achievements in physics and engineering, and its development as a separate field after World War II. Using historical examples, current applications, and challenges, Goriely illustrates the particular role that mathematics plays in the modern sciences today and its far-reaching potential. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Marx: A Very Short Introduction

Marx: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Peter (Princeton University) Singer Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/03/2018

Karl Marx is one of the most influential philosophers of all time, whose theories have shaped and directed political, economic, and social thought for 150 years. Considering Marx's life and impact, renowned philosopher Peter Singer identifies the central vision that unifies Marx's thought, enabling us to grasp Marx's views as a whole. Presenting Marx as a philosopher primarily concerned with human freedom, rather than as an economist or a social scientist, Singer explains Marx's key ideas on alienation, historical materialism, and the economic theory of Capital, in plain English. In this new edition, Singer explores whether Marx remains relevant to the twenty first century, and if so, how. Does the fact that eight billionaires now own as much as the bottom half of the world's population give support to Marxist thinking? Does the ease with which conservative politicians can win over working class voters by appealing to nationalism undermines Marx's view of class struggle and the inevitability of victory for the proletariat? Singer ponders key questions such as these, and also discusses the place of the internet as a 'productive force' when analysed in Marxist theory. He concludes with an assessment of Marx's legacy, asking if there is any realistic prospect of replacing capitalism with a better system of production and distribution in the twenty first century. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The European Union: A Very Short Introduction

The European Union: A Very Short Introduction

The European Union (EU) stands out as a fascinatingly unique political organisation. On the one hand, it has shown the potential for developing deep and wide-ranging cooperation between member states, going far beyond that found anywhere else in the world. On the other, it is currently in the throes of a phase of profound uncertainty about its viability and future. Showing how and why the EU has developed from 1950 to the present day, this Very Short Introduction covers a range of topics, including the Union's early history, the workings of its institutions and what they do, the interplay between 'eurosceptics' and federalists, and the role of the Union beyond Europe in international affairs and as a peace-keeper. In this fully updated fourth edition, Pinder and Usherwood cover the migrant crisis and the UK's decision to leave the Union, set in the context of a body that is now involved in most areas of public policy. Discussing how the EU continues to draw in new members, they conclude by considering the future of the Union and the choices and challenges that may lie ahead. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The History of Physics: A Very Short Introduction

The History of Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: J.L. (Professor of History, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley) Heilbron Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/02/2018

How does the physics we know today - a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry - link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? What is the path that leads from the old philosophy of nature and its concern with humankind's place in the universe to modern massive international projects that hunt down fundamental particles and industrial laboratories that manufacture marvels? This Very Short Introduction introduces us to Islamic astronomers and mathematicians calculating the size of the earth whilst their caliphs conquered much of it; to medieval scholar-theologians investigating light; to Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, measuring, and trying to explain, the universe. We visit the 'House of Wisdom' in 9th-century Baghdad; Europe's first universities; the courts of the Renaissance; the Scientific Revolution and the academies of the 18th century; and the increasingly specialised world of 20th and 21st century science. Highlighting the shifting relationship between physics, philosophy, mathematics, and technology - and the implications for humankind's self-understanding - Heilbron explores the changing place and purpose of physics in the cultures and societies that have nurtured it over the centuries. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Simon (Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford) Horobin Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/02/2018

The English language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? In this Very Short Introduction Simon Horobin investigates how we have arrived at the English we know today, and celebrates the way new speakers and new uses mean that it continues to adapt. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, Horobin considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or we are witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction

Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction

Monasticism is a social and religious phenomenon which originated in antiquity and which still remains relevant in the twenty-first century. But what, exactly, is it, and how is it distinguished from other kinds of religious and non-religious practice? In this Very Short Introduction Stephen J. Davis discusses the history of monasticism, from our earliest evidence for it, and the different types which have developed from antiquity to the present day. He considers where monasteries are located, from East Asia to North America, and everywhere in between, and how their settings impact the everyday life and worldview of the monks and nuns who dwell there. Exploring how monastic communities are organized, he also looks at how aspects of life like food, sleep, sex, work, and prayer are regimented. Finally, Davis discusses what the stories about saints communicate about monastic identity and ethics, and considers what place there is for monasticism in the modern world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Lakes: A Very Short Introduction

Lakes: A Very Short Introduction

From the mysterious depths of Lake Vostok, Antarctica, to tropical floodplain lakes, inland seas, hydro-reservoirs and the variety of waterbodies in our local environment, lakes encompass a huge diversity of shapes, sizes, depths, colours, and even salinities. Often very large and very deep, they sustain important and unique ecosystems which can be hotspots of biodiversity, and are used by humans as sources of drinking water and food, in particular, fish. What is the origin of differences among lakes, and how does that affect the life within them? What are the seasons of a lake, and how do human actions alter lake ecosystems locally, and at a global scale? In this Very Short Introductions, Warwick Vincent outlines the essential features of lake environments and their biology, offering an up-to-date view of lake ecosystems. Vincent traces the origins of lake science (limnology) from the seminal work of Francois Forel on Lake Geneva at the edge of the Swiss Alps, to modern approaches such as environmental sensors, satellite observations, stable isotope analysis, and DNA-based technologies which are used to probe the microbial life support systems that lead from sunlight to fish. Drawing on varied case studies he considers the intimate relationship between humans and lakes, the value of lakes as indicators of environmental change, the impact of pollution,and our urgent need to improve the protection and management of these vitally important living resources via an integrated understanding of their ecology. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Fairy Tale: A Very Short Introduction

Fairy Tale: A Very Short Introduction

From wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins, to giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors, the characters and images of fairy tales have cast a spell over readers and audiences, both adults and children, for centuries. These fantastic stories have travelled across cultural borders, and been passed on from generation to generation, ever-changing, renewed with each re-telling. Few forms of literature have greater power to enchant us and rekindle our imagination than a fairy tale. But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from and what do they mean? What do they try and communicate to us about morality, sexuality, and society? The range of fairy tales stretches across great distances and time; their history is entangled with folklore and myth, and their inspiration draws on ideas about nature and the supernatural, imagination and fantasy, psychoanalysis, and feminism. In this Very Short Introduction, Marina Warner digs into a rich hoard of fairy tales in all their brilliant and fantastical variations, in order to define a genre and evaluate a literary form that keeps shifting through time and history. Drawing on a glittering array of examples, from classics such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, and Hans Andersen's The Little Mermaid, to modern-day realizations including Walt Disney's Snow White, Warner forms a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Universities and Colleges: A Very Short Introduction

Universities and Colleges: A Very Short Introduction

What is a university? What is the University? How have universities evolved over the centuries? How might they change over the coming decades as the physical and organisational entity most identified with 'higher education' being delivered to over 250 million students? What will be the impact of digital- and distance-learning, of commercial for-profit new entrants to the higher education market, of government austerity, of globalization, of student consumerism? Exploring the origins and the concept, the idea and the ideal, of the university, this Very Short Introduction discusses one of the world's oldest, most resilient, and most adaptable institutions. David Palfreyman and Paul Temple consider the links between universities and the economy, and the role of universities within society. Highlighting some of the key questions surrounding the position of universities, they ask how the university can be politically accountable for its taxpayer funding, if it needs to be autonomous to function effectively as a public good. Are professors professional enough in their teaching practices at a time that increasing tuition fees transform students more and more into consumers? And just what does 'academic freedom' for university faculties really entail? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Analytic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

Analytic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction

Originating in the pioneering work of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein in the four decades around the turn of the twentieth century, analytic philosophy established itself in various forms in the 1930s. After the Second World War, it developed further in North America, in the rest of Europe, and is now growing in influence as the dominant philosophical tradition right across the world, from Latin America to East Asia. In this Very Short Introduction Michael Beaney introduces some of the key ideas of the founders of analytic philosophy by exploring certain fundamental philosophical questions and showing how those ideas can be used in offering answers. Considering the work of Susan Stebbing, he also explores the application of analytic philosophy to critical thinking, and emphasizes the conceptual creativity that lies at the heart of fruitful analysis. Throughout, Beaney illustrates why clarity of thinking, precision of expression, and rigour of argumentation are rightly seen as virtues of analytic philosophy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The History of Cinema: A Very Short Introduction

The History of Cinema: A Very Short Introduction

Cinema was the first, and is arguably still the greatest, of the industrialized art forms that came to dominate the cultural life of the twentieth century. Today, it continues to adapt and grow as new technologies and viewing platforms become available, and remains an integral cultural and aesthetic entertainment experience for people the world over. Cinema developed against the backdrop of the two world wars, and over the years has seen smaller wars, revolutions, and profound social changes. Its history reflects this changing landscape, and, more than any other art form, developments in technology. In this Very Short Introduction, Nowell-Smith looks at the defining moments of the industry, from silent to sound, black and white to colour, and considers its genres from intellectual art house to mass market entertainment. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introduction series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Miracles: A Very Short Introduction

Miracles: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Yujin (Professor of Philosophy, University of Birmingham) Nagasawa Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/11/2017

Jesus turned water into wine, Mohammad split the moon into two, and Buddha walked and spoke immediately upon birth. According to recent statistics, even in the present age of advanced science and technology, most people believe in miracles. In fact, newspapers and television regularly report alleged miracles, such as recoveries from incurable diseases, extremely unlikely coincidences, and religious signs and messages on unexpected objects. In this book the award-winning author and philosopher Yujin Nagasawa addresses some of our most fundamental questions concerning miracles. What exactly is a miracle? What types of miracles are believed in the world's great religions? What do recent scientific findings tell us about miracles? Can we rationally believe that miracles have really taken place? Can there be acts that are more religiously significant than miracles? Drawing on a vast variety of fascinating examples from across the major religions, Nagasawa discusses the lively debate on miracles that ranges from reported miracles in ancient scriptures in the East and West to cutting-edge scientific research on belief formation. Throughout, he drives us to ask ourselves if and how we can still believe in in miracles in the twenty-first century. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Modern India: A Very Short Introduction

Modern India: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Craig (Director of the Australia India Institute) Jeffrey Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/11/2017

India is widely recognised as a new global powerhouse. It has become one of the world's emerging powers, rivalling China in terms of global influence. Yet people still know relatively little about the economic, social, political, and cultural changes unfolding in India today. To what extent are people benefiting from the economic boom? Does caste still exist in India? How is India's culture industry responding to technological change? And what of India's rapidly changing role internationally? This Very Short Introduction looks at the exciting world of change in contemporary India. Craig Jeffrey provides a compelling account of the recent history of the nation, investigating the contradictions that are plaguing modern India and the manner in which people, especially young people, are actively remaking the country in the twenty first century. One thing is clear: India is a country that is going to become increasingly important for the world over the next decades. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Projects: A Very Short Introduction

Projects: A Very Short Introduction

What is a project? How are projects organized to deal with a complex, rapidly changing, and uncertain world? Why are projects the organization of the future? A project is a temporary organization and one-time process established to achieve a desired outcome. Projects range in size from small teams to large international joint-ventures and temporary coalitions of public and private organizations. What distinguishes projects from all other organizational activities - such as mass produced products and services - is that a project is finite in duration, lasting from hours, days, or weeks to years, and in some cases decades. Each project is disposable. It brings together people and resources to accomplish a goal and when the goal is accomplished, the organization disappears. When projects are complex, unpredictable, and changing, their plans have to be flexible and able to adjust to situations that cannot foreseen at the outset. In this Very Short Introduction Andrew Davies looks at how projects have developed since the industrial revolution to create the human-built world in which we live, work, and play. Considering some of our greatest endeavours such as the Erie Canal, Apollo Moon landing, Japanese product development, and Chinese ecocity projects, Davies identifies how projects are organized and managed to design and produce large and complex systems, cope with fast changing conditions, and deal with the immense uncertainties required to create breakthrough innovations in products and services. He concludes by considering how projects could be organized to address the challenges facing the post-industrial society of the 21st century. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Perception: A Very Short Introduction

Perception: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Brian (Emeritus Professor of Experimental Psychology) Rogers Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/10/2017

Perception is one of the oldest and most deeply investigated topics in the field of psychology, and it is also raises some profound philosophical questions. It is concerned with how we use the information reaching our senses to guide and control our behaviour as well as to create our particular, subjective experiences of the surrounding world. In this Very Short Introduction, Brian J. Rogers discusses the philosophical question of what it means to perceive, as well as describing how we are able to perceive the particular characteristics of objects and scenes such as their lightness, colour, form, depth, and motion. What we perceive, however, does not always correspond to what exists in the world and, as Rogers shows, the study of illusions can be useful in telling us something about the nature and limitations of our perceptual processes. Rogers also explores perception from an evolutionary perspective, explaining how evolutionary pressures have shaped the perceptual systems of humans and other animals. He shows that perception is not necessarily a separate and independent process but rather part of a 'perceptual system', involving both the extraction of perceptual information and the control of action. Rogers goes on to cover the significant progress made recently in the understanding of perception through the use of precise and controlled psychophysical methods, single cell recordings, and imaging techniques. There have also been many insights from attempts to model perceptual processes in artificial systems. As Rogers shows, these attempts have revealed how difficult it is to programme machines to perform even the most simple of perceptual tasks that we take for granted. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction

The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul (Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford) Klenerman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/10/2017

The immune system is central to human health and the focus of much medical research. Growing understanding of the immune system, and especially the creation of immune memory (long lasting protection), which can be harnessed in the design of vaccines, have been major breakthroughs in medicine. In this Very Short Introduction, Paul Klenerman describes the immune system, and how it works in health and disease. In particular he focuses on the human immune system, considering how it evolved, the basic rules that govern its behaviour, and the major health threats where it is important. The immune system comprises a series of organs, cells and chemical messengers which work together as a team to provide defence against infection. Klenerman discusses these components, the critical signals that trigger them and how they exert their protective effects, including so-called innate immune responses, which react very fast to infection, and adaptive immune responses, which have huge diversity and a capacity to recognise and defend against a massive array of micro-organisms. Klenerman also considers what happens when our immune systems fail to be activated effectively, leading to serious infections, problems with inherited diseases, and also HIV/AIDS. At the opposite extreme, as Klenerman shows, an over-exaggerated immune response leads to inflammatory diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, as well as allergy and asthma. Finally he looks at the Immune system v2.o - how immune therapies and vaccines can be advanced to protect us against the major diseases of the 21st century. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction

Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Elizabeth (Professor of Environmental Law, Corpus Christi, University of Oxford) Fisher Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/10/2017

Environmental law is the law concerned with environmental problems. It is a vast area of law that operates from the local to the global, involving a range of different legal and regulatory techniques. In theory, environmental protection is a no brainer. Few people would actively argue for pollution or environmental destruction. Ensuring a clean environment is ethically desirable, and also sensible from a purely self-interested perspective. Yet, in practice, environmental law is a messy and complex business fraught with conflict. Whilst environmental law is often characterized in overly simplistic terms, with a law being seen as be a magic wand that solves an environmental problem, the reality is that creating and maintaining a body of laws to address and avoid problems is not easy, and involves legislators, courts, regulators and communities. This Very Short Introduction provides an overview of the main features of environmental law, and discusses how environmental law deals with multiple interests, socio-political conflicts, and the limits of knowledge about the environment. Showing how interdependent societies across the world have developed robust and legitimate bodies of law to address environmental problems, Elizabeth Fisher discusses some of the major issues involved in environmental law's: nation statehood, power, the reframing role of law, the need to ensure real environmental improvements, and environmental justice. As Fisher explains, environmental law is, and will always be, necessary but inherently controversial. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Big Data: A Very Short Introduction

Big Data: A Very Short Introduction

Since long before computers were even thought of, data has been collected and organized by diverse cultures across the world. Once access to the Internet became a reality for large swathes of the world's population, the amount of data generated each day became huge, and continues to grow exponentially. It includes all our uploaded documents, video, and photos, all our social media traffic, our online shopping, even the GPS data from our cars. 'Big Data' represents a qualitative change, not simply a quantitative one. The term refers both to the new technologies involved, and to the way it can be used by business and government. Dawn E. Holmes uses a variety of case studies to explain how data is stored, analysed, and exploited by a variety of bodies from big companies to organizations concerned with disease control. Big data is transforming the way businesses operate, and the way medical research can be carried out. At the same time, it raises important ethical issues; Holmes discusses cases such as the Snowden affair, data security, and domestic smart devices which can be hijacked by hackers. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Stephen Eric (Rutgers University) Bronner Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/10/2017

Critical theory emerged in the 1920s from the work of the Frankfurt School, the circle of German-Jewish academics who sought to diagnose - and, if at all possible, cure - the ills of society, particularly fascism and capitalism. In this book, Stephen Eric Bronner provides sketches of leading representatives of the critical tradition (such as George Lukacs and Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as many of its seminal texts and empirical investigations. This Very Short Introduction sheds light on the cluster of concepts and themes that set critical theory apart from its more traditional philosophical competitors. Bronner explains and discusses concepts such as method and agency, alienation and reification, the culture industry and repressive tolerance, non-identity and utopia. He argues for the introduction of new categories and perspectives for illuminating the obstacles to progressive change and focusing upon hidden transformative possibilities. In this newly updated second edition, Bronner targets new academic interests, broadens his argument, and adapts it to a global society amid the resurgence of right-wing politics and neo-fascist movements. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Mammals: A Very Short Introduction

Mammals: A Very Short Introduction

Author: T. S. (Emeritus Research Fellow, St John's College, Oxford) Kemp Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/10/2017

From a modest beginning in the form of a little shrew-like, nocturnal, insect eating ancestor that lived 200 million years ago, mammals evolved into the huge variety of different kinds of animals we see today. Many species are still small, and follow the lifestyle of the ancestor, but others have adapted to become large grazers and browsers, like the antelopes, cattle, rhinos, and elephants, or the lions, hyaenas, and wolves that prey upon them. Yet others evolved to be specialist termite eaters able to dig into the hardest mounds, or tunnel creating burrowers, and a few took to the skies as gliders and the bats. Many live partly in the water, such as otters, beavers, and hippos, while whales and dugongs remain permanently in the seas, incapable of ever emerging onto land. In this Very Short Introduction T. S. Kemp explains how it is a tenfold increase in metabolic rate - endothermy or warm-bloodedness - that lies behind the high levels of activity, and the relatively huge brain associated with complex, adaptable behaviour that epitomizes mammals. He describes the remarkable fossil record, revealing how and when the mammals gained their characteristics, and the tortuous course of their subsequent evolution, during which many bizarre forms such as sabre-toothed cats, and 30-tonne, 6-m high browsers arose and disappeared. Describing the wonderful adaptations that mammals evolved to suit their varied modes of life, he also looks at those of the mainly arboreal primates that culminated ultimately in Homo sapiens. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Thinking and Reasoning: A Very Short Introduction

Thinking and Reasoning: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jonathan B. T. (Emeritus Professor, School of Psychology, Plymouth University) Evans Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/10/2017

Our extraordinary capacity to reason and solve problems sets us aside from other animals, but our evolved thinking processes also leave us susceptibile to bias and error. The study of thinking and reasoning goes back to Aristotle, and was one of the first topics to be studied when psychology separated from philosophy. In this Very Short Introduction Jonathan Evans explores cognitive psychological approaches to understanding the nature of thinking and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. He shows how our problem solving capabilities are hugely dependent on also having the imagination to ask the right questions, and the ability to see things from a completely new perspective. Beginning by considering the approaches of the behaviourists and the Gestalt psychologists, he moves on to modern explorations of thinking, including hypothetical thinking, conditionals, deduction, rationality, and intuition. Covering the role of past learning, IQ, and cognitive biases, Evans also discusses the idea that there may be two different ways of thinking, arising from our evolutionary history. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems: A Very Short Introduction

Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jonathan F. S. (Distinguished Professor of English, UCLA) Post Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/2017

Not for nothing is William Shakespeare considered possibly the most famous writer in history; his works have had a lasting effect on culture, vocabularies, and art. His plays contain some of our most well-known lines (how often have you heard the phrase 'To be or not to be'?), yet whilst his poems may often feel less familiar than his plays they have also seeped into our cultural history (who has not heard of ''Shall I compare thee to a summer's day'?). In this Very Short Introduction Jonathan Post introduces all of Shakespeare's poetry: the Sonnets; the two great narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece; A Lover's Complaint; and The Phoenix and Turtle. Describing Shakespeare's double identity as both poet and playwright, in conjunction with several of his contemporaries, Post evaluates the reciprocal advantages as well as the different strategies and strains that came with writing for the stage and the page. Tackling the debates surrounding the disputed authorship of Shakespeare's poems, he also considers the printing history of Shakespeare's canon, and the genres favoured by the bard. Exploring their reception, both with contemporary audiences and through the ages until today, Post explores the core themes of love and lust, and analyzes how the sonnets compare with other great love poetry of the English Renaissance. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Logic: A Very Short Introduction

Logic: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Graham (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center) Priest Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/10/2017

Logic is often perceived as having little to do with the rest of philosophy, and even less to do with real life. In this lively and accessible introduction, Graham Priest shows how wrong this conception is. He explores the philosophical roots of the subject, explaining how modern formal logic deals with issues ranging from the existence of God and the reality of time to paradoxes of probability and decision theory. Along the way, the basics of formal logic are explained in simple, non-technical terms, showing that logic is a powerful and exciting part of modern philosophy. In this new edition Graham Priest expands his discussion to cover the subjects of algorithms and axioms, and proofs in mathematics. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction

Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Susan (Visiting Professor in Psychology, University of Plymouth) Blackmore Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/09/2017

Consciousness, 'the last great mystery for science', remains a hot topic. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? Exciting new developments in brain science are continuing the debates on these issues, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. This controversial book clarifies the potentially confusing arguments, and the major theories, whilst also outlining the amazing pace of discoveries in neuroscience. Covering areas such as the construction of self in the brain, mechanisms of attention, the neural correlates of consciousness, and the physiology of altered states of consciousness, Susan Blackmore highlights our latest findings. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction

Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction

Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures and their popularity seems never ending, fuelled by films such as Jurassic Park and documentaries such as Walking with Dinosaurs. Yet dinosaurs (or more precisely non-avian dinosaurs) last trod the Earth 65 million years ago. All we know of them today are their fossilised bones, the tracks and traces that they left behind and, in very rare instances, some of the soft tissues or even traces of their chemistry. In many respects dinosaurs present us with one of the ultimate forensic challenges: they comprise the fragmentary remains of creatures that died many tens of millions of years ago, rather than just recently, or a few tens of years ago, which is the problem usually faced by forensic pathologists. How much do we really know about them, and to what extent can their remains inform us about ancient worlds, and indeed about the history of our planet? In this Very Short Introduction David Norman discusses how dinosaurs were first discovered and interpreted, and how our understanding of them has changed over the past 200 years. He looks at some of the amazing discoveries that have enabled us to gain new and unexpected insights into dinosaurs as animals with natural histories and behaviours, and considers some of the biggest questions in dinosaur biology, such as the implications of them having warm blood. Norman also shows how research upon dinosaurs has been enriched, particularly in recent decades, by technological break-throughs, which complement the informed speculation and luck which have played a part in many of the major discoveries. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Freemasonry: A Very Short Introduction

Freemasonry: A Very Short Introduction

Freemasonry is one of the oldest and most widespread voluntary organisations in the world. Over the course of three centuries men (and women) have organized themselves socially and voluntarily under its name. With a strong sense of liberation, moral enlightenment, cosmopolitan openness and forward-looking philanthropy, freemasonry has attracted some of the sharpest minds in history and has created a strong platform for nascent civil societies across the globe. With the secrecy of internally communicated knowledge, the clandestine character of organization, and the enactment of rituals and the elaborate use of symbols, freemasonry has also opened up feelings of distrust, as well as allegations of secretiveness and conspiracy. This Very Short Introduction introduces the inner activities of freemasonry, and the rituals, symbols and practices. Looking at the development of the organizational structure of masonry from the local to the global level, Andreas OEnnerfors considers perceptions of freemasonry from the outside world, and navigates through the prevalent fictions and conspiracy theories. He also discusses how freemasonry has from its outset struggled with issues of exclusion based upon gender, race and religion, despite promoting tolerant openness and inclusion. Finally OEnnerfors shines a light on the rarely discussed but highly compelling history of female agency in masonic and para-masonic orders. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Heredity: A Very Short Introduction

Heredity: A Very Short Introduction

The concept of heredity is fundamental to how we see ourselves and others. It goes far beyond the obvious continuity of physical traits across generations. We routinely ascribe similarities in personality, intellect, outlook, and aptitude between family members to what's passed down in sperm and eggs. The simple idea that children take after their ancestors has long been central to science and medicine and to the breeding of plants and animals. It has also been used for ideological purposes to impute innate differences in character and rationality between males and females and among different ethnicities and social classes. Slavery, colonialism, and genocide, the unequal treatment of women, and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few have been consistently rationalized in the language of heredity and 'natural' hierarchy. In this Very Short Introduction John Waller traces the diverse ideas about biological inheritance expressed by Europeans and their colonial descendants during two millennia of human history. He charts the changing ways in which scholars and laypersons have believed heredity to work, the development of spurious and self-serving beliefs about heredity by dominant groups, the recent revolution in our ability to understand the mechanics of heredity, and the difficult dilemmas our species is likely to face as we gain increasing mastery over the contents of our own genomes. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction

Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction

Utilitarianism may well be the most influential secular ethical theory in the world today. It is also one of the most controversial. It clashes, or is widely thought to clash, with many conventional moral views, and with human rights when they are seen as inviolable. Would it, for example, be right to torture a suspected terrorist in order to prevent an attack that could kill and injure a large number of innocent people? In this Very Short Introduction Peter Singer and Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek provide an authoritative account of the nature of utilitarianism, from its nineteenth-century origins, to its justification and its varieties. Considering how utilitarians can respond to objections that are often regarded as devastating, they explore the utilitarian answer to the question of whether torture can ever be justified. They also discuss what it is that utilitarians should seek to maximize, paying special attention to the classical utilitarian view that only pleasure or happiness is of intrinsic value. Singer and de Lazari-Radek conclude by analysing the continuing importance of utilitarianism in the world, indicating how it is a force for new thinking on contemporary moral challenges like global poverty, the treatment of animals, climate change, reducing the risk of human extinction, end-of-life decisions for terminally-ill patients, and the shift towards assessing the success of government policies in terms of their impact on happiness. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Pain: A Very Short Introduction

Pain: A Very Short Introduction

What is pain? Has the experience of pain always been the same? How is pain related to the emotions, to culture, and to pleasure? What happens to us when we feel pain? How does pain work in the body and in the brain? In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Boddice explores the history, culture, and medical science of pain. Charting the shifting meanings of pain across time and place, he focusses on how the experience and treatment of pain have changed. He describes historical hierarchies of pain experience that related pain to social class and race, and the privileging of human states of pain over that of other animals. From the pain concepts of classical antiquity to expressions of pain in contemporary art, and modern medical approaches to the understanding, treatment, and management of pain, Boddice weaves a multifaceted account of this central human experience. Ranging from neuroscientific innovations in experimental medicine to the constructionist arguments of social scientists, pain is shown to resist a timeless definition. Pain is physical and emotional, of body and mind, and is always experienced subjectively and contextually. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Oceans: A Very Short Introduction

Oceans: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Dorrik (Director, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot Watt University) Stow Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/07/2017

The importance of the oceans to life on Earth cannot be overstated. Liquid water covers more than 70% of our planet's surface and, in past geological time, has spread over 85%. Life on Earth began in the oceans over 3.5 billion years ago and remained there for the great majority of that time. Today the seas still provide 99% of habitable living space, the largest repository of biomass, and holds the greatest number of undiscovered species on the planet. Our oceans are vital for the regulation of climate, and with global warming and decreasing land area, they have become increasingly important as the source of food, energy in the form of oil and gas, and for their mineral wealth. Oceans also form a key part of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements critical to life. Nutrients in upwelling areas are spread by ocean currents, and the plankton of the seas supports a wealth of wildlife. In this Very Short Introduction Dorrik Stow analyses these most important components of our blue planet and considers their relationship with, and exploitation by, humans. He shows how the oceans are an essential resource to our overpopulated world, and discusses why exploration and greater scientific understanding of the oceans, their chemistry, and their mineral wealth are now a high priority. Stow also explores what we know of how oceans originate, and evolve and change; the shape of the seafloor and nature of its cover; the physical processes that stir the waters and mix such a rich chemical broth; and the inseparable link between oceans and climate. As polar ice melts and sea-levels rise, countless millions who have made their homes on low-lying lands close to the sea are threatened. As scientific exploration of the seas gathers pace, the new knowledge gained of the ocean-Earth systems and their interaction with the human environment is vital to our understanding of how we can preserve these ultimately fragile environments. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction

Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction

Despite a long history of external threats and internal strife, the Roman Catholic Church remains a vast and influential presence in our modern world. But what were its origins, and how has it changed and adapted over the centuries? After Pope Benedict XVI dramatically resigned in early 2013 (the first Pope to resign since the fifteenth century), and Pope Francis was elected, many wondered what direction he would lead the Church in, and whether the Church could modernise in the face of the demands of our world. In this Very Short Introduction, Gerald O'Collins covers the history of the Catholic Church, and considers some of the key issues facing Catholicism today, such as the catastrophic revelations about clerical child abuse, the impact of the growth of Islam, and the destruction in the Middle East of ancient Christian church communities. He also shows how Catholics are being increasingly challenged by an opposition between their traditional Christian values and rights which are endorsed by the secular world, such as the right to physician assisted suicide or same-sex marriage, and considers the future for the largest and oldest institution in the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Less than 450 years ago, all European scholars believed that the Earth was at the centre of a Universe that was at most a few million miles in extent, and that the planets, sun, and stars all rotated around this centre. Less than 250 years ago, they believed that the Universe was created essentially in its present state about 6000 years ago. Even less than 150 years ago, the view that living species were the result of special creation by God was still dominant. The recognition by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace of the mechanism of evolution by natural selection has completely transformed our understanding of the living world, including our own origins. In this Very Short Introduction Brian and Deborah Charlesworth provide a clear and concise summary of the process of evolution by natural selection, and how natural selection gives rise to adaptations and eventually, over many generations, to new species. They introduce the central concepts of the field of evolutionary biology, as they have developed since Darwin and Wallace on the subject, over 140 years ago, and discuss some of the remaining questions regarding processes. They highlight the wide range of evidence for evolution, and the importance of an evolutionary understanding for instance in combating the rapid evolution of resistance by bacteria to antibiotics and of HIV to antiviral drugs. This reissue includes some key updates to the main text and a completely updated Further Reading section. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Branding: A Very Short Introduction

Branding: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robert (Strategist, Wolff Olins, and visiting professor, University of East Anglia) Jones Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/06/2017

Branding is possibly the most powerful commercial and cultural force on the planet. Iconic names such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Manchester United, Harry Potter, and Google are known and recognized by millions of people worldwide. As the market economy spreads across the world, brands are becoming ever more prevalent. The Apple brand has been valued at $98 billion - more than the GDP of Slovakia. Every day, we're exposed to more than 3500 brand messages. And even though people are increasingly brand-aware and brand-sceptical, they are nevertheless seduced by brands. We may reject the whole brand system, but we still wouldn't be parted from our Apple Macs. Brands are impossible to escape. In this Very Short Introduction Robert Jones discusses the rising omnipresence of brands, and analyses how they work their magic. He considers the incredible potency of brands as a commercial, social, and cultural force, and looks at the many different kinds of brands that exist - from products, services, and artistic properties, to companies, charities, sports clubs, and political parties. Defining what we mean by the word 'brand', he explores both the positive and negative aspects of brands. Finally Jones considers the business of branding, and asks whether the idea of brands and branding is starting to decline, or whether it has a long future ahead. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

European Union Law: A Very Short Introduction

European Union Law: A Very Short Introduction

The European Union is rarely out of the news and, as it deals with the consequences of the Brexit vote and struggles to emerge from the eurozone crisis, it faces difficult questions about its future. In this debate, the law has a central role to play, whether the issue be the governance of the eurozone, the internal market, 'clawing back powers from Europe' or reducing so-called 'Brussels red tape'. In this Very Short Introduction Anthony Arnull looks at the laws and legal system of the European Union, including EU courts, and discusses the range of issues that the European Union has been given the power to regulate, such as the free movement of goods and people. He considers why an organisation based on international treaties has proved capable of having far-reaching effects on both its Member States and on countries that lie beyond its borders, and discusses how its law and legal system have proved remarkably effective in ensuring that Member States respect the commitments they made when they signed the Treaties. Answering some of the key questions surrounding EU law, such as what exactly it is about, and how it has become part of the legal DNA of its Member States so much more effectively than other treaty-based regimes, Arnull considers the future for the European Union. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Multilingualism: A Very Short Introduction

Multilingualism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John C. (Professor of Linguistics, International Christian University, Tokyo) Maher Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 25/05/2017

The languages of the world can be seen and heard in cities and towns, forests and isolated settlements, as well as on the internet and in international organizations like the UN or the EU. How did the world acquire so many languages? Why can't we all speak one language, like English or Esperanto? And what makes a person bilingual? Multilingualism, language diversity in society, is a perfect expression of human plurality. About 6,500-7,000 languages are spoken, written and signed, throughout the linguistic landscape of the world, by people who communicate in more than one language (at work, or in the family or community). Many origin myths, like Babel, called it a 'punishment' but multilingualism makes us who we are and plays a large part of our sense of belonging. Languages are instruments for interacting with the cultural environment and their ecology is complex. They can die (Tasmanian), or decline then revive (Manx and Hawaiian), reconstitute from older forms (modern Hebrew), gain new status (Catalan and Maori) or become autonomous national languages (Croatian). Languages can even play a supportive and symbolic role as some territories pursue autonomy or nationhood, such as in the cases of Catalonia and Scotland. In this Very Short Introduction John C. Maher shows how multilingualism offers cultural diversity, complex identities, and alternative ways of doing and knowing to hybrid identities. Increasing multilingualism is drastically changing our view of the value of language, and our notion of the part language plays in national and cultural identities. At the same time multilingualism can lead to social and political conflict, unequal power relations, issues of multiculturalism, and discussions over 'national' or 'official' languages, with struggles over language rights of local and indigenous communities. Considering multilingualism in the context of globalization, Maher also looks at the fate of many endangered languages as they disappear from the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Very Short Introduction

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Timothy H. (Professor of Hebrew Bible & Second Temple Judaism, University of Edinburgh) Lim Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/05/2017

Since their discovery in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have become an icon in popular culture that transcends their status as ancient Jewish manuscripts. Everyone has heard of the Scrolls, but amidst the conspiracies, the politics, and the sensational claims, it can be difficult to separate the myths from the reality. In this Very Short introductions, Timothy Lim discusses the cultural significance of the finds, and the religious, political and legal controversies during the seventy years of study since the discovery. He also looks at the contribution the Scrolls have made to our understanding of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, and the origins of early Christianity. Exploring the most recent scholarly discussions on the archaeology of Khirbet Qumran, and the study of the biblical texts, the canon, and the history of the Second Temple Period, he considers what the scrolls reveal about sectarianism in early Judaism. Was the archaeological site of Qumran a centre of monastic life, a fortress, a villa, or a pottery factory? Why were some of their biblical texts so different from the ones that we read today? Did they have 'a Bible'? Who were the Essenes and why did they think that humanity is to be divided between 'the sons of light' and those in darkness? And, finally, do the Scrolls reflect the teachings of the earliest followers of Jesus? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction

Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction

How have the Jews survived? For millennia, they have defied odds by overcoming the travails of exile, persecution, and recurring plans for their annihilation. Many have attempted to explain this singular success as a result of divine intervention. In this engaging book, David N. Myers charts the long journey of the Jews through history. At the same time, it points to two unlikely-and decidedly this-worldly-factors to explain the survival of the Jews: antisemitism and assimilation. Usually regarded as grave dangers, these two factors have continually interacted with one other to enable the persistence of the Jews. At every turn in their history, not just in the modern age, Jews have adapted to new environments, cultures, languages, and social norms. These bountiful encounters with host societies have exercised the cultural muscle of the Jews, preventing the atrophy that would have occurred if they had not interacted so extensively with the non-Jewish world. It is through these encounters-indeed, through a process of assimilation-that Jews came to develop distinct local customs, speak many different languages, and cultivate diverse musical, culinary, and intellectual traditions. Left unchecked, the Jews' well-honed ability to absorb from surrounding cultures might have led to their disappearance. And yet, the route toward full and unbridled assimilation was checked by the nearly constant presence of hatred toward the Jew. Anti-Jewish expression and actions have regularly accompanied Jews throughout history. Part of the ironic success of antisemitism is its malleability, its talent in assuming new forms and portraying the Jew in diverse and often contradictory images-for example, at once the arch-capitalist and revolutionary Communist. Antisemitism not only served to blunt further assimilation, but, in a paradoxical twist, affirmed the Jew's sense of difference from the host society. And thus together assimilation and antisemitism (at least up to a certain limit) contribute to the survival of the Jews as a highly adaptable and yet distinct group.

Clinical Psychology: A Very Short Introduction

Clinical Psychology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Susan Llewelyn Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/04/2017

Clinical psychology makes a significant contribution to mental health care across the world. The essence of the discipline is the creative application of the knowledge base of psychology to the unique, personal experiences of individuals who are facing difficulties or changes in their lives. Rather than addressing such experiences as primarily a medical, political or legal problem, clinical psychologists approach personal distress as an unhappy outcome of certain ways of thinking, behaving and relating, often occurring within difficult social, cultural or economic circumstances. Clinical psychologists work with people to try and help them change what is distressing or concerning them, based on a belief in the value of the individual to determine what happens to them and on the importance of using approaches which have been demonstrated through research to be effective. In this Very Short Introduction Susan Llewellyn and Katie Aafjes-van Doorn provide insights into the world of clinical psychologists and their clients or patients, and cover the range of domains of practice, the difficulties tackled, and the approaches and models used. They consider the challenges and controversies facing the profession today, and also how it varies across the globe. Finally, they discuss the key questions surrounding clinical psychology, such as whether it should compete or collaborate with psychiatry, how far it is yet another instrument of social control, what new technology can offer in the future, and whether clinical psychology can ever really be considered a science. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Very Short Introduction

Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Stanley (Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) Wells Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/04/2017

Tragedy, including grief, pain and suffering, is a common theme in Shakespeare's plays, often leading to the death of at least one character, if not several. Yet such themes can also be found in Shakespearian plays which are classed as comedies, or histories. What is it which makes a Shakespearian tragedy, and what dramatic themes and conventions did the bard draw upon when writing them? In this Very Short Introduction Stanley Wells considers what is meant by the word 'tragedy', and discusses nine of Shakespeare's iconic tragic plays. He explores how the early definitions and theoretical discussions of the concept of tragedy in Shakespeare's time would have influenced these plays, along with the literary influence of Seneca. Wells also considers Shakespeare's uses of the word 'tragedy' itself, analysing whether he had any overall concept of the genre in relation to the drama, and looking at the ways in which the theatrical conventions of his time shaped his plays, such as the use of boy players in women's roles and the physical structures of the playhouses. Offering a critical analysis of each of the nine plays in turn, Wells concludes by discussing why tragedy is regarded as fit subject for entertainment, and what it is about tragic plays that audiences find so enjoyable. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Globalization: A Very Short Introduction

Globalization: A Very Short Introduction

'Globalization' has become one of the defining buzzwords of our time - a term that describes a variety of accelerating economic, political, cultural, ideological, and environmental processes that are rapidly altering our experience of the world. It is by its nature a dynamic topic. This Very Short Introduction has been fully updated for a fourth edition, to include recent developments in global politics, the global economy, and environmental issues. Presenting globalization as a multifaceted process encompassing global, regional, and local aspects of social life, Manfred B. Steger looks at its causes and effects, examines whether it is a new phenomenon, and explores the question of whether, ultimately, globalization is a good or a bad thing. In this fourth edition Steger discusses some of the key features of recent years, such as the EU fiscal crisis, the rise of robot technology and new war technology with civilian usage such as drones, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and new identity discussions around gender fluidity and sex change in the media. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Atmosphere: A Very Short Introduction

The Atmosphere: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul I. (Professor of Quantitative Earth Observation at the University of Edinburgh) Palmer Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/04/2017

The atmosphere is the thin, diffuse fluid that envelops the Earth's surface. Despite its apparent fragility, the existence of this fluid is vital for human and other life on Earth. In this Very Short Introduction Paul Palmer describes the physical and chemical characteristics of different layers in the atmosphere, and shows how the interactions where the atmosphere is in contact with land, ocean, and ice affect its observed physical and chemical properties. He also looks at how movement in the atmosphere, driven by heat from the sun, transports heat from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, and is a fundamental feature of the general circulation in the atmosphere. Finally, Palmer presents an overview of the types of measurements used to understand different parts of the atmosphere, and identifies the future challenges for atmospheric scientists. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Future: A Very Short Introduction

The Future: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jennifer M. (President, World Futures Studies Federation (UNESCO Partner)) Gidley Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/03/2017

From the beginning of time, humans have been driven by both a fear of the unknown and a curiosity to know. We have always yearned to know what lies ahead, whether threat or safety, scarcity or abundance. Throughout human history, our forebears tried to create certainty in the unknown, by seeking to influence outcomes with sacrifices to gods, preparing for the unexpected with advice from oracles, and by reading the stars through astrology. As scientific methods improve and computer technology develops we become ever more confident of our capacity to predict and quantify the future by accumulating and interpreting patterns form the past, yet the truth is there is still no certainty to be had. In this Very Short Introduction Jennifer Gidley considers some of our most burning questions: What is the future ?; Is the future a time yet to come?; Or is it a utopian place?; Does the future have a history?; Is there only one future or are there many possible futures? She asks if the future can ever be truly predicted or if we create our own futures - both hoped for and feared - by our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and concludes by analysing how we can learn to study the future. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Circadian Rhythms: A Very Short Introduction

Circadian Rhythms: A Very Short Introduction

The earth's daily rotation affects just about every living creature. From dawn through to dusk, there are changes in light, temperature, humidity, and rainfall. However, these changes are regular, rhythmic and, therefore, predictable. Thus, the near 24 hour circadian rhythm is innate: a genetically programmed clock that essentially ticks of its own accord. This Very Short Introduction explains how organisms can know the time and reveals what we now understand of the nature and operation of chronobiological processes. Covering variables such as light, the metabolism, human health, and the seasons, Foster and Kreitzman illustrate how jet lag and shift work can impact on human well-being, and consider circadian rhythms alongside a wide range of disorders, from schizophrenia to obesity. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Habsburg Empire: A Very Short Introduction

The Habsburg Empire: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Martyn (Masaryk Professor of Central European History at University College London) Rady Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/03/2017

The Habsburgs are the most famous dynasty in continental Europe. From the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries, they ruled much of Central Europe, and for two centuries were also rulers of Spain. Through the Spanish connection, they acquired lands around the Mediterranean and a chunk of the New World, spreading eastwards to include the Philippines. Reaching from South-East Asia to what is now Ukraine, the Habsburg Empire was truly global. In this Very Short Introduction Martin Rady looks at the history of the Habsburgs, from their tenth-century origins in Switzerland, to the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire in 1918. He introduces the pantheon of Habsburg rulers, which included adventurers, lunatics, and at least one monarch who was so malformed that his true portrait could never be exhibited. He also discusses the lands and kingdoms that made up the Habsburg Empire, and the decisive moments that shaped their history. Dynasty, Europe, global power, and the idea of the multi-national state all converge on the history of the Habsburg Empire. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Infinity: A Very Short Introduction

Infinity: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Ian (Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick) Stewart Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/03/2017

Infinity is an intriguing topic, with connections to religion, philosophy, metaphysics, logic, and physics as well as mathematics. Its history goes back to ancient times, with especially important contributions from Euclid, Aristotle, Eudoxus, and Archimedes. The infinitely large (infinite) is intimately related to the infinitely small (infinitesimal). Cosmologists consider sweeping questions about whether space and time are infinite. Philosophers and mathematicians ranging from Zeno to Russell have posed numerous paradoxes about infinity and infinitesimals. Many vital areas of mathematics rest upon some version of infinity. The most obvious, and the first context in which major new techniques depended on formulating infinite processes, is calculus. But there are many others, for example Fourier analysis and fractals. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Stewart discusses infinity in mathematics while also drawing in the various other aspects of infinity and explaining some of the major problems and insights arising from this concept. He argues that working with infinity is not just an abstract, intellectual exercise but that it is instead a concept with important practical everyday applications, and considers how mathematicians use infinity and infinitesimals to answer questions or supply techniques that do not appear to involve the infinite. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Military Strategy: A Very Short Introduction

Military Strategy: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Antulio J., II (Director of Research, Director of Research, U.S. Army War College) Echevarria Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/03/2017

Since ancient times, poets, historians, and philosophers have contemplated warlords' exploits in battle and praised their ability to lead armies toward victory as the art of the general. Today, this quality is designated military strategy. Military strategy plays a vital role in every conflict, because, as the United States' involvement in the Vietnam conflict showed, when the overarching strategy is weak it is possible to win every battle but still lose a war. Taking inspiration from the greatest military theoreticians of history, such as Sun Tzu, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Carl von Clausewitz, this Very Short Introduction highlights the dynamic relationship between the principal components of strategy: purpose, method, and means. Drawing on paradigmatic examples, from Hannibal's war against Rome to Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, from the Allies' campaign to overwhelm Hitler's fortress to the terror attacks of September 11, Antulio J. Echevarria II vividly illustrates the factors contributing to the success or failure of military strategy. Echevarria describes the major types of military strategy and their advantages and disadvantages: annihilation and dislocation; attrition and exhaustion; deterrence and coercion; terror and terrorism; targeted killing; and cyber power. He also explores the emerging nano- and bio-genetic technologies and explains how they are affecting today's military strategy. Clear and engaging, this book shows that military strategy is essential for understanding major events of the past and becomes even more critical today, in a world increasingly threatened by weapons of mass destruction, terrorist attacks, and new dimensions of conflict, such as cyberwar and space.

The Industrial Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

The Industrial Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Robert C. Allen Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/02/2017

The 'Industrial Revolution' was a pivotal point in British history that occurred between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries and led to far reaching transformations of society. With the advent of revolutionary manufacturing technology productivity boomed. Machines were used to spin and weave cloth, steam engines were used to provide reliable power, and industry was fed by the construction of the first railways, a great network of arteries feeding the factories. Cities grew as people shifted from agriculture to industry and commerce. Hand in hand with the growth of cities came rising levels of pollution and disease. Many people lost their jobs to the new machinery, whilst working conditions in the factories were grim and pay was low. As the middle classes prospered, social unrest ran through the working classes, and the exploitation of workers led to the growth of trade unions and protest movements. In this Very Short Introduction, Robert C. Allen analyzes the key features of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and the spread of industrialization to other countries. He considers the factors that combined to enable industrialization at this time, including Britain's position as a global commercial empire, and discusses the changes in technology and business organization, and their impact on different social classes and groups. Introducing the 'winners' and the 'losers' of the Industrial Revolution, he looks at how the changes were reflected in evolving government policies, and what contribution these made to the economic transformation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Organic Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction

Organic Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of compounds of carbon. The ability of carbon to link together to form long chain molecules and ring compounds as well as bonding with many other elements has led to a vast array of organic compounds. These compounds are central to life, forming the basis for organic molecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. In this Very Short Introduction Graham Patrick covers the whole range of organic compounds and their roles. Beginning with the structures and properties of the basic groups of organic compounds, he goes on to consider organic compounds in the areas of pharmaceuticals, polymers, food and drink, petrochemicals, and nanotechnology. He looks at how new materials, in particular the single layer form of carbon called graphene, are opening up exciting new possibilities for applications, and discusses the particular challenges of working with carbon compounds, many of which are colourless. Patrick also discusses techniques used in the field. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Navigation: A Very Short Introduction

Navigation: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jim (Keeper Emeritus, Science Museum, London) Bennett Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/02/2017

From the Bronze Age mariners of the Mediterranean to contemporary sailors using satellite-based technologies, the history of navigation at sea, the art of finding a position and setting a course, is fascinating. The scientific and technological developments that have enabled accurate measurements of position were central to exploration, trade, and the opening up of new continents, and the resulting journeys taken under their influence have had a profound influence on world history. In this Very Short Introduction Jim Bennett looks at the history of navigation, starting with the distinctive cultures of navigation that are defined geographically - the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. He shows how the adoption of mathematical methods, the use of instruments, the writing of textbooks and the publication of charts all combined to create a more standardised practice. Methods such as longitude-finding by chronometer and lunar distance were complemented by the routine business of recording courses and reckoning position 'by account'. Bennett also introduces the incredible array of instruments relied on by sailors, from astrolabes, sextants, and chronometers, to our more modern radio receivers, electronic equipment, and charts, and highlights the crucial role played by the individual qualities of endeavour and resourcefulness from mathematicians, scientists, and seamen in finding their way at sea. The story of navigation combines the societal, the technical, and the human, and it was vital for shaping the modern world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Gravity: A Very Short Introduction

Gravity: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Timothy (Lecturer in Theoretical Cosmology, Queen Mary, University of London) Clifton Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/02/2017

Gravity is one of the four fundamental interactions that exist in nature. It also has the distinction of being the oldest, weakest, and most difficult force to quantize. Understanding gravity is not only essential for understanding the motion of objects on Earth, but also the motion of all celestial objects, and even the expansion of the Universe itself. It was the study of gravity that led Einstein to his profound realisations about the nature of space and time. Gravity is not only universal, it is also essential for understanding the behaviour of the Universe, and all astrophysical bodies within it. In this Very Short Introduction Timothy Clifton looks at the development of our understanding of gravity since the early observations of Kepler and Newtonian theory. He discusses Einstein's theory of gravity, which now supplants Newton's, showing how it allows us to understand why the frequency of light changes as it passes through a gravitational field, why GPS satellites need their clocks corrected as they orbit the Earth, and why the orbits of distant neutron stars speed up. Today, almost 100 years after Einstein published his theory of gravity, we have even detected the waves of gravitational radiation that he predicted. Clifton concludes by considering the testing and application of general relativity in astrophysics and cosmology, and looks at dark energy and efforts such as string theory to combine gravity with quantum mechanics. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction

Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tristram D. (Senior Research Associate, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford) Wyatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/02/2017

How animals behave is crucial to their survival and reproduction. The application of new molecular tools such as DNA fingerprinting and genomics is causing a revolution in the study of animal behaviour, while developments in computing and image analysis allow us to investigate behaviour in ways never previously possible. By combining these with the traditional methods of observation and experiments, we are now learning more about animal behaviour than ever before. In this Very Short Introduction Tristram D. Wyatt discusses how animal behaviour has evolved, how behaviours develop in each individual (considering the interplay of genes, epigenetics, and experience), how we can understand animal societies, and how we can explain collective behaviour such as swirling flocks of starlings. Using lab and field studies from across the whole animal kingdom, he looks at mammals, butterflies, honeybees, fish, and birds, analysing what drives behaviour, and exploring instinct, learning, and culture. Looking more widely at behavioural ecology, he also considers some aspects of human behaviour. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Populism: A Very Short Introduction

Populism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Cas Mudde, Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/02/2017

Populism is a central concept in the current media debates about politics and elections. However, like most political buzzwords, the term often floats from one meaning to another, and both social scientists and journalists use it to denote diverse phenomena. What is populism really? Who are the populist leaders? And what is the relationship between populism and democracy? This book answers these questions in a simple and persuasive way, offering a swift guide to populism in theory and practice. Cas Mudde and Cristobal Rovera Kaltwasser present populism as an ideology that divides society into two antagonistic camps, the pure people versus the corrupt elite, and that privileges the general will of the people above all else. They illustrate the practical power of this ideology through a survey of representative populist movements of the modern era: European right-wing parties, left-wing presidents in Latin America, and the Tea Party movement in the United States. The authors delve into the ambivalent personalities of charismatic populist leaders such as Juan Domingo Peron, H. Ross Perot, Jean-Marie le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, and Hugo Chavez. If the strong male leader embodies the mainstream form of populism, many resolute women, such as Eva Peron, Pauline Hanson, and Sarah Palin, have also succeeded in building a populist status, often by exploiting gendered notions of society. Although populism is ultimately part of democracy, populist movements constitute an increasing challenge to democratic politics. Comparing political trends across different countries, this compelling book debates what the long-term consequences of this challenge could be, as it turns the spotlight on the bewildering effect of populism on today's political and social life.

Voltaire: A Very Short Introduction

Voltaire: A Very Short Introduction

Voltaire (1694-1778), best remembered as the author of Candide, is one of the central actors - arguably the defining personality - of the European Enlightenment. In this Very Short Introduction, Nicholas Cronk explores Voltaire's remarkable career and demonstrates how his thinking is pivotal to our notion and understanding of the Enlightenment. In a fresh and modern examination of his writings, Cronk examines the nature of Voltaire's literary celebrity, demonstrating the extent to which his work was reactive and practical, and therefore made sense within the broader context of the debates to which he responded. The most famous living author in Europe in the 18th century, Cronk emphasises Voltaire's skills of 'performance' as a writer and his continued relevance today. He concludes by looking not only at Voltaire's impact in literature and philosophy, but also his influence on French political values and modern French politics. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction

Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Siva Vaidhyanathan Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/01/2017

We all create intellectual property. We all use intellectual property. Intellectual property is the most pervasive yet least understood way we regulate expression. Despite its importance to so many aspects of the global economy and daily life, intellectual property policy remains a confusing and arcane subject. This engaging book clarifies both the basic terms and the major conflicts surrounding these fascinating areas of law, offering a layman's introduction to copyright, patents, trademarks, and other forms of knowledge falling under the purview of intellectual property rights. Using vivid examples, noted media expert Siva Vaidhyanathan illustrates the powers and limits of intellectual property, distilling with grace and wit the complex tangle of laws, policies, and values governing the dissemination of ideas, expressions, inventions, creativity, and data collection in the modern world. Vaidhyanathan explains that intellectual property exists as it does because powerful interests want it to exist. The strongest economies in the world have a keen interest in embedding rigid methods of control and enforcement over emerging economies to preserve the huge economic interests linked to their copyright industries-film, music, software, and publishing. For this reason, the fight over the global standardization of intellectual property has become one of the most important sites of tension in North-South global relations. Through compelling case studies, including those of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Sony, Amazon, and Google Books, Vaidhyanathan shows that the modern intellectual property systems reflect three centuries of changes in politics, economics, technologies, and social values. Although it emerged from a desire to foster creativity while simultaneously protecting it, intellectual property today has fundamentally shifted to a political dimension.

Weather: A Very Short Introduction

Weather: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Storm Dunlop Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/01/2017

From deciding the best day for a picnic, to the devastating effects of hurricanes and typhoons, the weather impacts our lives on a daily basis. Although new techniques allow us to forecast the weather with increasing accuracy, most people do not realise the vast global movements and forces which result in their day-to-day weather. In this Very Short Introduction Storm Dunlop explains what weather is and how it differs from climate, discussing what causes weather, and how we measure it. Analysing the basic features and properties of the atmosphere, he shows how these are directly related to the weather experienced on the ground, and to specific weather phenomena and extreme weather events. He describes how the global patterns of temperature and pressure give rise to the overall circulation within the atmosphere, the major wind systems, and the major oceanic currents, and how features such as mountains and the sea affect local weather. He also looks at examples of extreme and dangerous weather, such as of tropical cyclones (otherwise known as hurricanes and typhoons), describing how 'Hurricane Hunters' undertake the dangerous task of flying through them. We measure weather in a number of ways: observations taken on the land and sea; observations within the atmosphere; and measurements from orbiting satellites. Dunlop concludes by looking at how these observations have been used to develop increasingly sophisticated long- and short-range weather forecasting, including ensemble forecasting. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Eugenics: A Very Short introduction

Eugenics: A Very Short introduction

Author: Professor Philippa Levine Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/01/2017

In 1883, Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the word eugenics to express his dream of perfecting the human race by applying the laws of genetic heredity. Adapting Darwin's theory of evolution to human society, eugenics soon became a powerful, international movement, committed to using the principles of heredity and statistics to encourage healthy and discourage unhealthy reproduction. Early in the twentieth century and across the world, doctors, social reformers, and politicians turned to the new science of eugenics as a means to improve and strengthen their populations. Eugenics advocates claimed their methods would result in healthier, fitter babies and would dramatically limit human suffering. The reality was a different story. In the name of scientific progress and of human improvement, eugenicists targeted the weak and the sick, triggering coercive legislation on issues as disparate as race, gender, immigration, euthanasia, abortion, sterilization, intelligence, mental illness, and disease control. Nationalists eagerly embraced eugenics as a means to legitimize their countries' superiority and racialized assumptions, and the Nazis notoriously used eugenics to shape their final solution. In this lucid volume, Philippa Levine tackles the intricate and controversial history of eugenics, masterfully synthesizing the enormous range of policies and experiments carried out in the name of eugenics around the world throughout the twentieth century. She questions the widespread belief that eugenics disappeared after World War II and evaluates the impact of eugenics on current reproductive and genetic sciences. Charting the development of such controversial practices as artificial insemination, sperm donation, and population control, this book offers a powerful, extraordinarily timely reflection on the frequent interplay between genetics and ethics. Eugenics may no longer be a household word, but we feel its effects even today.

Behavioural Economics: A Very Short Introduction

Behavioural Economics: A Very Short Introduction

Traditionally economists have based their economic predictions on the assumption that humans are super-rational creatures, using the information we are given efficiently and generally making selfish decisions that work well for us as individuals. Economists also assume that we're doing the very best we can possibly do - not only for today, but over our whole lifetimes too. But increasingly the study of behavioural economics is revealing that our lives are not that simple. Instead, our decisions are complicated by our own psychology. Each of us makes mistakes every day. We don't always know what's best for us and, even if we do, we might not have the self-control to deliver on our best intentions. We struggle to stay on diets, to get enough exercise and to manage our money. We misjudge risky situations. We are prone to herding: sometimes peer pressure leads us blindly to copy others around us; other times copying others helps us to learn quickly about new, unfamiliar situations. This Very Short Introduction explores the reasons why we make irrational decisions; how we decide quickly; why we make mistakes in risky situations; our tendency to procrastination; and how we are affected by social influences, personality, mood and emotions. The implications of understanding the rationale for our own financial behaviour are huge. Behavioural economics could help policy-makers to understand the people behind their policies, enabling them to design more effective policies, while at the same time we could find ourselves assaulted by increasingly savvy marketing. Michelle Baddeley concludes by looking forward, to see what the future of behavioural economics holds for us. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Depression: A Very Short Introduction

Depression: A Very Short Introduction

What is depression? What is bipolar disorder? How are they diagnosed and how are they treated? Can a small child be diagnosed with depression and treated with antidepressants - and should they be? Covering depression, manic depression, and bipolar disorder, this Very Short Introduction gives a brief account of the history of these concepts, before focussing on the descriptions and understanding of these disorders today. Jan Scott and Mary Jane Tacchi look at the introduction of modern treatments for people suffering from depression, recounting the stories behind the development and introduction of antidepressants and mood stabilizers. They examine the symptoms and signs of the different disorders, as well as the association between physical disorders and depression. Exploring the importance of depression and bipolar disorder in society, they also look at the link between creativity and mood disorders. Scott and Tacchi conclude by discussing treatments and the future for those with depression. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Calvinism: A Very Short Introduction

Calvinism: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jon (Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Bristol) Balserak Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/12/2016

In this Very Short Introduction, Jon Balserak explores major ideas associated with the Calvinist system of thought. Beginning during the Protestant Reformation in cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Basel, Calvinismaalso known as Reformed Theologyaspread rapidly throughout Europe and the New World, eventually making its way to the African Continent and the East. Balserak examines how Calvinist thought and practice spread and took root, helping shape church and society. Much of contemporary thought, especially western thought, on everything from theology to civil government, economics, the arts, work and leisure, education, and the family has been influenced by Calvinism. Balserak explores this influence. He also examines common misconceptions and objections to Calvinism, and sets forth a Calvinist understanding of God, the world, humankind, and the meaning of life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Telescopes: A Very Short Introduction

Telescopes: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Geoffrey Cottrell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/12/2016

From the first, telescopes have made dramatic revelations about the Universe and our place in it. Galileo's observations of the Moon's cratered surface and discovery of Jupiter's four big satellites profoundly altered the perception of the heavens, overturning a two-thousand year cosmology that held the Earth to be the centre of the Universe. Over the past century, the rapid development of computer technology and sophisticated materials allowed enormous strides in the construction of telescopes. Modern telescopes range from large Earth-based optical telescopes and radio arrays linking up across continents, to space-based telescopes capturing the Universe in infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. In combination, they have enabled us to look deep into the Universe and far back in time, capturing phenomena from galactic collisions to the formation of stars and planetary systems, and mapping the faint glow remaining from the Big Bang. In this Very Short Introduction, Dr. Geoff Cottrell describes the basic physics of telescopes, the challenges of overcoming turbulence and distortion from the Earth's atmosphere, and the special techniques used to capture X-rays and gamma rays in space telescopes. He explains the crucial developments in detectors and spectrographs that have enabled the high resolution achieved by modern telescopes, and the hopes for the new generation of telescopes currently being built across the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Ageing: A Very Short Introduction

Ageing: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Nancy A. (Professor of Geropsychology, University of Queensland) Pachana Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/12/2016

Ageing is an activity we are familiar with from an early age. In our younger years upcoming birthdays are anticipated with an excitement that somewhat diminishes as the years progress. As we grow older we are bombarded with advice on ways to overcome, thwart, resist, and, on the rare occasion, embrace, one's ageing. Have all human beings from the various historical epochs and cultures viewed aging with this same ambivalence? In this Very Short Introduction Nancy A. Pachana discusses the lifelong dynamic changes in biological, psychological, and social functioning involved in ageing. Increased lifespans in the developed and the developing world have created an urgent need to find ways to enhance our functioning and well-being in the later decades of life, and this need is reflected in policies and action plans addressing our ageing populations from the World Health Organization and the United Nations. Looking to the future, Pachana considers advancements in the provision for our ageing populations, including revolutionary models of nursing home care such as Green House nursing homes in the USA and Small Group Living homes in the Netherlands. She shows that understanding the process of ageing is not only important for individuals, but also for societies and nations, if the full potential of those entering later life is to be realised. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Home: A Very Short Introduction

Home: A Very Short Introduction

Thoughts and feelings about home traditionally provided people of all cultures with a firm sense of where they belonged, and why. But with the world rapidly changing, many of our basic notions are becoming problematic. Both internationally and within countries, populations are constantly on the move, seeking better opportunities and living conditions, or an escape from violence and war. In spite of, or perhaps even because of these trends, ideas about home continue to shape the way people everywhere frame an understanding of their lives. In this Very Short Introduction Michael Allen Fox considers the complex meaning of home and the essential importance of place to human psychology. Drawing on a wide array of international examples he discusses what dwelling is and the variety of dwellings. Fox also looks at the politics of the concept of 'home', homelessness, refugeeism and migration, and the future of home, and argues that home remains a central organizing concept in human life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Rocks: A Very Short Introduction

Rocks: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jan (Senior Lecturer in Geology, Leicester University) Zalasiewicz Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/12/2016

Rocks, more than anything else, underpin our lives. They make up the solid structure of the Earth and of other rocky planets, and are present at the cores of gas giant planets. We live on the rocky surface of the planet, grow our food on weathered debris derived from rocks, and we obtain nearly all of the raw materials with which we found our civilization from rocks. From the Earth's crust to building bricks, rocks contain our sense of planetary history, and are a guide to our future. In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalasiewicz looks at the nature and variety of rocks, and the processes by which they are formed. Starting from the origin of rocks and their key role in the formation of the Earth, he considers what we know about the deep rocks of the mantle and core, and what rocks can tell us about the evolution of the Earth, and looks at those found in outer space and on other planets. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Banking: A Very Short Introduction

Banking: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John O. S. Wilson, John Goddard Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/12/2016

Banks are of central importance for economic growth, the allocation of capital, competitiveness, and financial stability. Propelled by technological advances in financial analysis and financial deregulation, the banking industry's investment played a key role in enhancing national economic growth in the early 21st century. The global financial crisis in 2007 revealed the banking world's feet of clay. Since 2007, the turmoil in the global financial system has prompted a fundamental reappraisal of the scale, scope, governance, performance, safety and soundness of banks and other financial institutions. In this Very Short Introduction John Goddard and John Wilson explore the world of banking, describing the role of central banks in national and global economies, and analysing the increasing supervision and regulation imposed on the banking industry. Looking to the future, the authors consider proposals for reform of the banking industry, and the prospects of a resolution of the closely-related banking and sovereign debt crises. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction

Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction

The 2014 Ebola epidemic demonstrated the power of pandemics and their ability not only to destroy lives locally but also to capture the imagination and terrify the world. Christian W. McMillen provides a concise yet comprehensive account of pandemics throughout human history, illustrating how pandemic disease has shaped history and, at the same time, social behavior has influenced pandemic disease. Extremely interesting from a medical standpoint, the study of pandemics also provides unexpected, broader insights into culture and politics. This Very Short Introduction describes history's major pandemics - plague, tuberculosis, malaria, smallpox, cholera, influenza, and HIV/AIDS - highlighting how each disease's biological characteristics affected its pandemic development. McMillen discusses state responses to pandemics, such as quarantine, isolation, travel restrictions, and other forms of social control, and pays special attention to the rise of public health and the explosion of medical research in the wake of pandemics, especially as the germ theory of disease emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today, medicine is able to control all of these diseases, yet some of them are still devastating in much of the developing world. By assessing the relationship between poverty and disease and the geography of epidemics, McMillen offers an outspoken and thought-provoking point of view on the necessity for global governments to learn from past experiences and proactively cooperate to prevent any future epidemic.

Zionism: A Very Short Introduction

Zionism: A Very Short Introduction

In this Very Short Introduction, Michael Stanislawski presents an impartial and disinterested history of Zionist ideology from its origins to the present. Sharp and accessible, he charts the crucial moments in the ideological development of Zionism, including the emergence of modern Jewish nationalism in early nineteenth century Europe, the founding of the Zionist movement by Theodor Herzl in 1897, right through to the rise of the aPeace Nowa movement, and the election of conservative prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Stanislawski's balanced analysis of these controversial events illuminates why, despite the undeniable success in its goal of creating a Jewish state, profound questions remain today about the long-term viability of Zionist ideology in a rapidly destabilizing Middle East. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Isotopes: A Very Short Introduction

Isotopes: A Very Short Introduction

An isotope is a variant form of a chemical element, containing a different number of neutrons in its nucleus. Most elements exist as several isotopes. Many are stable while others are radioactive, and some may only exist fleetingly before decaying into other elements. In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Ellam explains how isotopes have proved enormously important across all the sciences and in archaeology. Radioactive isotopes may be familiar from their use in nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and in medicine, as well as in carbon dating. They have been central to establishing the age of the Earth and the origins of the solar system. Combining previous and new research, Ellam provides an overview of the nature of stable and radioactive isotopes, and considers their wide range of modern applications. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction

The Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction

Author: David (Arthur T. Vanderbilt Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology) Garland Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/12/2016

Welfare states vary across nations and change over time. And the balance between markets and government; free enterprise and social protection is perennially in question. But all developed societies have welfare states of one kind or another - they are a fundamental dimension of modern government. And even after decades of free-market criticism and reform, their core institutions have proven resilient and popular. This Very Short Introduction describes the modern welfare state, explaining its historical and contemporary significance and arguing that far from being 'a failure' or 'a problem', welfare states are an essential element of contemporary capitalism, and a vital concomitant of democratic government. In this accessible and entertaining account, David Garland cuts through the fog of misunderstandings to explain in clear and simple terms, what welfare states are, how they work, and why they matter. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction

Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tim Lenton Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/12/2016

When humanity first glimpsed planet Earth from space, the unity of the system that supports humankind entered the popular consciousness. The concept of the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, soil, and rocks operating as a closely interacting system has rapidly gained ground in science. This new field, involving geographers, geologists, biologists, oceanographers, and atmospheric physicists, is known as Earth System Science. In this Very Short Introduction, Tim Lenton considers how a world in which humans could evolve was created; how, as a species, we are now reshaping that world; and what a sustainable future for humanity within the Earth System might look like. Drawing on elements of geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, Lenton asks whether Earth System Science can help guide us onto a sustainable course before we alter the Earth system to the point where we destroy ourselves and our current civilisation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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