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Why do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar? The organisation of time into hours, days, months and years seems immutable and universal, but is actually far more artificial than most people realise. The French Revolution resulted in a restructuring of the French calendar, and the Soviet Union experimented with five and then six-day weeks. Leofranc Holford-Strevens explores these questions using a range of fascinating examples from Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar's imposition of the Leap Year, to the 1920s' project for a fixed Easter. 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.
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.
In this Very Short Introduction, Alan Taylor presents the current scholarly understanding of colonial America to a broader audience. He focuses on the transatlantic and a transcontinental perspective, examining the interplay of Europe, Africa, and the Americas through the flows of goods, people, plants, animals, capital, and ideas.
Against the backdrop of unprecedented concern for the future of health care, this Very Short Introduction surveys the history of medicine from classical times to the present. Focussing on the key turning points in the history of Western medicine, such as the advent of hospitals and the rise of experimental medicine, Bill Bynum offers insights into medicine's past, while at the same time engaging with contemporary issues, discoveries, and controversies. 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 is essential reading for anyone interested in the African continent and the diversity of human history, as it looks at Africa's past and reflects on the changing ways it has been imagined and represented. Key themes such as the unity and diversity of African cultures, slavery, religion, colonial conquest and the importance of history in understanding contemporary Africa are illustrated with a range of fascinating historical examples, drawn from over 5 millennia across this vast continent.
100 years ago, Einstein's theory of relativity shattered the world of physics. Our comforting Newtonian ideas of space and time were replaced by bizarre and counterintuitive conclusions: if you move at high speed, time slows down, space squashes up and you get heavier; travel fast enough and you could weigh as much as a jumbo jet, be squashed thinner than a CD without feeling a thing - and live for ever. And that was just the Special Theory. With the General Theory came even stranger ideas of curved space-time, and changed our understanding of gravity and the cosmos. This authoritative and entertaining Very Short Introduction makes the theory of relativity accessible and understandable. Using very little mathematics, Russell Stannard explains the important concepts of relativity, from E=mc2 to black holes, and explores the theory's impact on science and on our understanding of 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.
Examines the origins of life on Earth and the search for extraterrestrial life, through an understanding of the factors that have allowed life to exist on this planet and the commonalities on others that may enable life elsewhere.

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