Jennifer Roberts introduces the background and writing of the 5th century Greek thinker and researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who invented the genre of historical investigation. She discusses all aspects of his work, including his fascination with his origins; his travels; his interest in seeing the world; and the recurring themes of his work.
In 336 BC Alexander the Great became king of Macedon. During his twelve-year reign he conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the largest to have yet existed, and in the process had a profound effect on the world he moved through. In this examination of his life and career, Hugh Bowden explores his cultural and historical legacy.
"Tells the story of the developing genre of crime fiction, from its 18th century origins in Britain to its contemporary international scope. Ranging from drawing-room murder mysteries to spy fiction, legal dramas, and thrillers, Bradford explores the conventions of the genre, and considers how crime writers have worked to escape the limitations it places on them."--Front flap.
Introduces major topics in ancient Greek civilization through the development of eleven characteristic city states, ranging from prehistoric Cnossos through Byzantion, and including the future Marseilles as well as Athens and Sparta.
"This book explores the ways in which ancient society thought about conflict. Many aspects of ancient warfare are examined from philosophy to the technical skills needed to fight"--Provided by publisher.
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.
William Allan's Very Short Introduction provides a concise and lively guide to the major authors, genres, and periods of classical literature. Drawing upon a wealth of material, he reveals just what makes the 'classics' such masterpieces and why they continue to influence and fascinate today.
Alexander the Great became king of Macedon in 336 BC, when he was only 20 years old, and died at the age of 32, twelve years later. During his reign he conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the largest empire that had ever existed, leading his army from Greece to Pakistan, and from the Libyan desert to the steppes of Central Asia. His meteoric career, as leader of an alliance of Greek cities, Pharaoh of Egypt, and King of Persia, had a profound effect on the world he moved through. Even in his lifetime his achievements became legendary and in the centuries that following his story was told and retold throughout Europe and the East. Greek became the language of power in the Eastern Mediterranean and much of the Near East, as powerful Macedonian dynasts carved up Alexander's empire into kingdoms of their own, underlaying the flourishing Hellenistic civilization that emerged after his death. But what do we really know about Alexander? In this Very Short Introduction, Hugh Bowden goes behind the usual historical accounts of Alexander's life and career. Instead, he focuses on the evidence from Alexander's own time — letters from officials in Afghanistan, Babylonian diaries, records from Egyptian temples — to try and understand how Alexander appeared to those who encountered him. In doing so he also demonstrates the profound influence the legends of his life have had on our historical understanding and the controversy they continue to generate worldwide. 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.
"Between c. 900-400 BC the Etruscans were the innovative, powerful, wealthy, and sophisticated elite of Italy. Their archaeological record is both substantial and fascinating, including tomb paintings, sculpture, jewellery, and art."
There are many stories we can tell about the past, and we are not, perhaps, as free as we might imagine in our choice of which stories to tell, or where those stories end. John Arnold's Very Short Introduction is a stimulating essay about how we study and understand history. The book begins by inviting us to think about various questions provoked by our investigation of history, and explores the ways these questions have been answered in the past. Concepts such as causation, interpretation, and periodization, are introduced by means of concrete examples of how historians work, giving the reader a sense of the excitement of discovering not only the past, but also ourselves. 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 contribution of the Ancient Greeks to modern western culture is incalculable. In the worlds of art, architecture, myth, literature, and philosophy, the world we live in would be unrecognizably different without the formative influence of Ancient Greek models. Ancient Greek civilization was defined by the city - in Greek, the polis, from which we derive 'politics'. It is above all this feature of Greek civilization that has formed its most enduring legacy, spawning such key terms as aristocracy, oligarchy, tyranny and - last but by no means least - democracy. This highly stimulating introduction to Ancient Greece takes the polis as its starting point. Paul Cartledge uses the history of eleven major Greek cities to illuminate the most important and informative themes in Ancient Greek history, from the first documented use of the Greek language around 1400 BCE, through the glories of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, to the foundation of the Byzantine empire in around CE 330. Covering everything from politics, trade, and travel to slavery, gender, religion, and philosophy, it provides the ideal concise introduction to the history and culture of this remarkable civilization that helped give birth to the world as we know it.
From Zeus and Europa, to Diana, Pan, and Prometheus, the myths of ancient Greece and Rome seem to exert a timeless power over us. But what do those myths represent, and why are they so enduringly fascinating? This imaginative and stimulating Very Short Introduction goes beyond a simple retelling of the stories to explore the rich history and diverse interpretations of classical myths in both high art and popular culture.
The ancient Egyptians are an enduring source of fascination - mummies and pyramids, curses and rituals have captured the imagination of generations. We all have a mental picture of ancient Egypt, but is it the right one? How much do we really know about this great civilization? In this absorbing introduction, Ian Shaw describes how our current ideas about Egypt are based not only on the thrilling discoveries made by early Egyptologists but also on fascinating new kinds of evidence produced by modern scientific and linguistic analyses. He also explores the changing influences on our responses to these finds, through such media as literature, cinema and contemporary art. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of ancient Egypt, from despotic pharaohs to dismembered bodies, and from hieroglyphs to animal-headed gods. 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 Histories of Herodotus, completed in the second half of the 5th century BC, is generally regarded as the first work of history and the first great masterpiece of non-fiction writing. Few history books since can compare for sheer drama with Herodotus's narrative of the Persian invasions of Greece. His accounts of the great battles of Marathon and Thermopylae, of Salamis and Plataea, retain to this day a matchless epic quality. More than this, though, The Histories is also the source of much of our knowledge of the ancient world. Herodotus was an endlessly curious man, and gathered information about the world around him from as many people and places as he could investigate. History was only the beginning of his interests. Whether it was the pyramids of Egypt, the cannabis habit of the Scythians, the flora and fauna of Arabia or the table dancing of the Athenian aristocracy, he was fascinated by them all. To this day, phrases derived from The Histories - from 'rich as Croesus' to 'tall poppy syndrome' - are part of the mental furniture even of those who haven't read him. Sometimes he is sceptical, and sometimes credulous, but his love of recounting what he has learned never ceases. Above all, as Tom Holland says in his introduction, "Herodotus is the most entertaining of historians. Indeed he is as entertaining as anyone who has ever written - historian or not." This absorbing new translation, by one of Britain's most admired young historians, allows all the drama and mysteriousness of this great book to be fully appreciated by modern readers. The sources of our information about the world are now more in flux than they have been for generations: there could be few better moments to read and reflect upon the book which first sought to organise knowledge. TOM HOLLAND is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Persian Fire, his history of the Graeco-Persian wars, won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award in 2006. His most recent book, In the Shadow of the Sword, describes the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam. He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC, and is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Making History. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association Prize awarded to 'the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome'. He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors 2009-11, and is currently on the committee of the Classical Association. PAUL CARTLEDGE is the inaugural A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge and President of the Fellowship, Clare College. His numerous books include Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History 1300-362 BC; The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others; The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece (winner of the John D. Criticos Prize); Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World; Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice; and Ancient Greece. A Very Short Introduction. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour (conferred by the President of the Hellenic Republic) and is an Honorary Citizen of Sparti, Greece.
This book brings together reference material and primary source documents concerning the most important people, places, events, and technologies of Classical Greek warfare in one easy-to-use volume—an invaluable resource for students, educators, and general readers interested in this compelling subject. • Charts present at-a-glance statistical information • Maps depict important battles and the political delineation of Greece at different time periods • Numerous illustrations of important people, events, and technologies help bring history to life
The Iliad, Homer's epic tale of the abduction of Helen and the decade-long Trojan War, has fascinated mankind for millennia. Even today, the war inspires countless articles and books, extensive archaeological excavations, movies, television documentaries, even souvenirs and collectibles. But while the ancients themselves believed that the Trojan War took place, scholars of the modern era have sometimes derided it as a piece of fiction. Combining archaeological data and textual analysis of ancient documents, this Very Short Introduction considers whether or not the war actually took place and whether archaeologists have really discovered the site of ancient Troy. To answer these questions, archaeologist and ancient historian Eric H. Cline examines various written sources, including the works of Homer, the Epic Cycle (fragments from other, now-lost Greek epics), classical plays, and Virgil's Aeneid. Throughout, the author tests the literary claims against the best modern archaeological evidence, showing for instance that Homer, who lived in the Iron Age, for the most part depicted Bronze Age warfare with accuracy. Cline also tells the engaging story of the archaeologists--Heinrich Schliemann and his successors Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Carl Blegen, and Manfred Korfmann--who found the long-vanished site of Troy through excavations at Hisarlik, Turkey. Drawing on evidence found at Hisarlik and elsewhere, Cline concludes that a war or wars in the vicinity of Troy probably did take place during the Late Bronze Age, forming the nucleus of a story that was handed down orally for centuries until put into final form by Homer. But Cline suggests that, even allowing that a Trojan War took place, it probably was not fought because of Helen's abduction, though such an incident may have provided the justification for a war actually fought for more compelling economic and political motives. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
Our self-image as moral, well-behaved creatures is dogged by scepticism, relativism, hypocrisy, and nihilism, by the fear that in a Godless world science has unmasked us as creatures fated by our genes to be selfish and tribalistic, or competitive and aggressive. In this 'sparklingly clear' (Guardian) introduction to ethics Simon Blackburn tackles the major moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire and freedom, showing us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates. 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 Very Short Introduction deals with the social life of language, presenting a succinct account of the most important aspects - both "micro" and "macro" - of sociolinguistics, such as language variation, language attitudes, and the relationship between language and identity.
The phrase "silk road" evokes vivid scenes of merchants leading camel caravans across vast stretches to trade exotic goods in glittering Oriental bazaars, of pilgrims braving bandits and frozen mountain passes to spread their faith across Asia. Looking at the reality behind these images, this Very Short Introduction illuminates the historical background against which the silk road flourished, shedding light on the importance of old-world cultural exchange to Eurasian and world history. On the one hand, historian James A. Millward treats the silk road broadly, to stand in for the cross-cultural communication between peoples across the Eurasian continent since at least the Neolithic era. On the other, he highlights specific examples of goods and ideas exchanged between the Mediterranean, Persia, India, and China, along with the significance of these exchanges. While including silks, spices, and travelers' tales of colorful locales, the book explains the dynamics of Central Eurasian history that promoted Silk Road interactions--especially the role of nomad empires--highlighting the importance of the biological, technological, artistic, intellectual, and religious interchanges across the continent. Millward shows that these exchanges had a profound effect on the old world that was akin to, if not on the scale of, modern globalization. He also disputes the idea that the silk road declined after the collapse of the Mongol empire or the opening of direct sea routes from Europe to Asia, showing how silk road phenomena continued through the early modern and modern expansion of the Russian and Chinese states across Central Asia. Millward concludes that the idea of the silk road has remained powerful, not only as a popular name for boutiques and restaurants, but also in modern politics and diplomacy, such as U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's "Silk Road Initiative" for India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The complex world of Egyptian myth is clearly illuminated in this fascinating new approach to ancient Egypt. Geraldine Pinch explores the cultural and historical background behind a wide variety of sources and objects, from Cleopatra's Needle and Tutankhamun's golden statue, to a story on papyrus of the gods misbehaving. What did they mean, and how have they been interpreted? The reader is taken on an exciting journey through the distant past, and shown how myths of deities such as Isis and Osiris influenced contemporary culture and have become part of our cultural heritage. 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.