Pelican Books

54 books in this series
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence
No recent scientific enterprise has been so alluring, terrifying, and filled with extravagant promise and frustrating setbacks as artificial intelligence. How intelligent are the best of today's AI programs? To what extent can we entrust them with decisions that affect our lives? How human-like do we expect them to become, and how soon do we need to worry about them surpassing us in most, if not all, human endeavours?

From leading AI researcher and award-winning author Melanie Mitchell comes a knowledgeable and captivating account of modern-day artificial intelligence. Flavoured with personal stories and a twist of humour, Artificial Intelligence illuminates the workings of machines that mimic human learning, perception, language, creativity and common sense. Weaving together advances in AI with cognitive science and philosophy, Mitchell probes the extent to which today's 'smart' machines can actually think or understand, and whether AI requires such elusive human qualities in order to be reliable, trustworthy and beneficial.

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans provides readers with an accessible, entertaining and clear-eyed view of the AI landscape, what the field has actually accomplished, how much further it has to go and what it means for all of our futures.
The Government of No One
The Government of No One
Often associated with chaos or disorder, anarchy defies definition and routinely gets a bad press. And yet from Occupy to Pussy Riot, Noam Chomsky to David Graeber, this philosophical and political movement is as relevant as ever. Contrary to popular perception, different strands of anarchism - from individualism to collectivism - do follow certain structures and a shared sense of purpose: a belief in freedom and working towards collective good without the interference of the state.

In this masterful, sympathetic account, political theorist Ruth Kinna traces the tumultuous history of anarchism, starting with thinkers and activists such as Peter Kropotkin and Emma Goldman and through key events like the Paris Commune and the Haymarket affair. Skilfully introducing us to the nuanced theories of a range of anarchist groups from around the world, The Government of No One reveals what makes a supposedly chaotic movement particularly adaptable and effective over centuries.
This Is Shakespeare
This Is Shakespeare
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'An outstanding book ... lively, curious and passionate' Literary Review


Why should you read a book about Shakespeare and his plays?
Because he is a timeless genius whose work encapsulates the human condition?
Or is it something more unexpected?
The Art of Statistics
The Art of Statistics
Statistics has played a leading role in our scientific understanding of the world for centuries, yet we are all familiar with the way statistical claims can be sensationalized, particularly in the media. In the age of big data, as data science becomes established as a discipline, a basic grasp of statistical literacy is more important than ever.

In The Art of Statistics, David Spiegelhalter guides the reader through the essential principles we need in order to derive knowledge from data. Drawing on real-world problems to introduce conceptual issues, he shows us how statistics can help us determine the luckiest passenger on the Titanic, whether serial killer Harold Shipman could have been caught earlier and if screening for ovarian cancer is beneficial.

How many trees are there on the planet? Do busier hospitals have higher survival rates? Why do old men have big ears? Spiegelhalter reveals the answers to these and many other questions - questions that can only be addressed using statistical science.
Chinese Thought
Chinese Thought
How did the ancient Chinese think about the world? What does environmental consciousness stand for in the Chinese tradition? Where does China's obsession with education come from?

We are often told that the twenty-first century is bound to become China's century. Never before has Chinese culture been so physically, digitally, economically or aesthetically present in everyday life in the Western world. But how much do we really know about its origins and key beliefs, especially compared to the many histories of Western philosophy?

In this enlightening book, Roel Sterckx, one of the foremost experts in Chinese thought, takes us through centuries of Chinese history, from Confucius to Daoism to the Legalists. With evocative examples from philosophy, literature and everyday life, he shows us how the ancient Chinese have shaped the thinking of a civilization that is now influencing our own.
Our Universe
Our Universe
In recent years, extraordinary advances in our understanding of the wider Universe have led us to uncover even greater mysteries: what, for example, are the mysterious 'dark' parts of the Universe? And, what happens in those parts of space where conditions are so intense that our laws of physics break down?

In this new Pelican book, practising cosmologist and Professor of Astrophysics Jo Dunkley takes us to the heart of these many unsolved questions, guiding us through the history and structure of the universe, and illuminating many unsung heroes of discovery along the way.
Can We Be Happier?
Can We Be Happier?
Most people now realize that economic growth, however desirable, will not solve all our problems. Instead, we need a philosophy and a science which encompasses a much fuller range of human need and experience.

This book argues that the goal for a society must be the greatest possible all-round happiness, and shows how each of us can become more effective creators of happiness, both as citizens and in our own organizations.

Written with Richard Layard's characteristic clarity, it provides hard evidence that increasing happiness is the right aim, and that it can be achieved. Its language is simple, its evidence impressive, its effect inspiring.
A Political History of the World
A Political History of the World
In three thousand years of history, China has spent at least eleven centuries at war. The Roman Empire was in conflict during at least 50 per cent of its lifetime. Since 1776, the United States has spent over one hundred years at war. The dream of peace has been universal in the history of humanity. So why have we so rarely been able to achieve it?

In A Political History of the World, Jonathan Holslag has produced a sweeping history of the world, from the Iron Age to the present, that investigates the causes of conflict between empires, nations and peoples and the attempts at diplomacy and cosmopolitanism. A birds-eye view of three thousand years of history, the book illuminates the forces shaping world politics from Ancient Egypt to the Han Dynasty, the Pax Romana to the rise of Islam, the Peace of Westphalia to the creation of the United Nations.

This truly global approach enables Holslag to search for patterns across different eras and regions, and explore larger questions about war, diplomacy, and power. Has trade fostered peace? What are the limits of diplomacy? How does environmental change affect stability? Is war a universal sin of power? At a time when the threat of nuclear war looms again, this is a much-needed history intended for students of international politics, and anyone looking for a background on current events.
A Short History of Brexit
A Short History of Brexit
'Crisp, clear and quietly devastating' Guardian
'Excellent, authoritative, highly readable' Irish Times

A succinct, expert guide to how we got to Brexit


After all the debates, manoeuvrings, recriminations and exaltations, Brexit is upon us. But, as Kevin O'Rourke writes, Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond that. Brexit has a history.

O'Rourke, one of the leading economic historians of his generation, explains not only how British attitudes to Europe have evolved, but also how the EU's history explains why it operates as it does today - and how that history has shaped the ways in which it has responded to Brexit. Why are the economics, the politics and the history so tightly woven together? Crucially, he also explains why the question of the Irish border is not just one of customs and trade, but for the EU goes to the heart of what it is about. The way in which British, Irish and European histories continue to interact with each other will shape the future of Brexit - and of the continent.

Calm and lucid, A Short History of Brexit rises above the usual fray of discussions to provide fresh perspectives and understanding of the most momentous political and economic change in Britain and the EU for decades.
Plunder of the Commons
Plunder of the Commons
We are losing the commons. Austerity and neoliberal policies have depleted our shared wealth; our national utilities have been sold off to foreign conglomerates, social housing is almost non-existent, our parks are cordoned off for private events and our national art galleries are sponsored by banks and oil companies. This plunder deprives us all of our common rights, recognized as far back as the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest of 1217, to share fairly and equitably in our public wealth.

Guy Standing leads us through a new appraisal of the commons, stemming from the medieval concept of common land reserved in ancient law from marauding barons, to his modern reappraisal of the resources we all hold in common - a brilliant new synthesis that crystallises quite how much public wealth has been redirected to the 1% in recent decades through the state-approved exploitation of everything from our land to our state housing, health and benefit systems, to our justice system, schools, newspapers and even the air we breathe. Plunder of the Commons proposes a charter for a new form of commoning, of remembering, guarding and sharing that which belongs to us all, to slash inequality and soothe our current political instability.
What We Really Do All Day
What We Really Do All Day
Are we spending more time at work than we would have done fifty years ago?
Are we sleeping less?
How has the Internet affected the way we use our spare time?

Everything we do happens in time and it feels like our lives are busier than ever before. Yet a detailed look at our daily activities reveals some surprising truths about the social and economic structure of the world we live in. This book delves into the unrivalled data collection and expertise of the Centre for Time Use Research to explore fifty-five years of change and what it means for us today.
National Populism
National Populism
A crucial new guide to one of the most urgent political phenomena of our time: the rise of national populism

Across the West, there is a rising tide of people who feel excluded, alienated from mainstream politics, and increasingly hostile towards minorities, immigrants and neo-liberal economics. Many of these voters are turning to national populist movements, which have begun to change the face of Western liberal democracy, from the United States to France, Austria to the UK.

This radical turn, we are told, is a last howl of rage from an aging electorate on the verge of extinction. Their leaders are fascistic and their politics anti-democratic; their existence a side-show to liberal democracy. But this version of events, as Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin show, could not be further from the truth.

Written by two of the foremost experts on fascism and the rise of national populism, this lucid and deeply-researched book is a vital guide to our transformed political landscape. Challenging conventional wisdoms, Eatwell and Goodwin make a compelling case for serious, respectful engagement with the supporters and ideas of national populism - not least because it is a tide that won't be stemmed anytime soon.
Social Mobility
Social Mobility
What are the effects of decreasing social mobility?
How does education help - and hinder - us in improving our life chances?
Why are so many of us stuck on the same social rung as our parents?

Apart from the USA, Britain has the lowest social mobility in the Western world. The lack of movement in who gets where in society - particularly when people are stuck at the bottom and the top - costs the nation dear, both in terms of the unfulfilled talents of those left behind and an increasingly detached elite, disinterested in improvements that benefit the rest of society.

This book analyses cutting-edge research into how social mobility has changed in Britain over the years, the shifting role of schools and universities in creating a fairer future, and the key to what makes some countries and regions so much richer in opportunities, bringing a clearer understanding of what works and how we can better shape our future.
Parenting the First Twelve Years
Parenting the First Twelve Years
Why is parenting so fraught and so difficult in today's society? There has never been a time when advice was so readily available, and yet there is also a prevailing sense that parents are getting it wrong. This book examines the arguments and counter-arguments supported by research on how best to parent children, from birth to twelve years. By taking an impartial approach to the evidence and, by discussing case studies from across the world and from a number of academic disciplines, this book is designed to show how good parenting comes in many shapes and forms.
Think Again
Think Again
Our personal and political worlds are rife with arguments and disagreements, some of them petty and vitriolic. The inability to compromise and understand the other side is widespread today. What can we do to change this? In Think Again philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong draws on a long tradition of logic to show why we should stop focusing on winning arguments and instead argue in a more constructive way.

Based on a hugely popular online course with more than a million followers around the world, Think Again explains how to analyse, evaluate and make better arguments while also spotting bad reasoning and avoiding certain fallacies. Through lively, practical examples from everyday life, politics and popular culture, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong offers brilliantly straightforward, wise advice that we can all use at work, at home and online.
The Human Planet
The Human Planet
Meteorites, methane, mega-volcanoes and now human beings; the old forces of nature that transformed Earth many millions of years ago are joined by another: us. Our actions have driven Earth into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. For the first time in our home planet's 4.5-billion year history a single species is dictating Earth's future.

To some the Anthropocene symbolises a future of superlative control of our environment. To others it is the height of hubris, the illusion of our mastery over nature. Whatever your view, just below the surface of this odd-sounding scientific word, the Anthropocene, is a heady mix of science, philosophy, religion and politics linked to our deepest fears and utopian visions. Tracing our environmental impact through time to reveal when humans began to dominate Earth, Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin show what the new epoch means for the future of humanity, the planet and life itself.

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