Berkshire’s Very VERY Short Introductions (VVSIs) are convenient, attractive, and accessible. They offer authoritative analysis and big ideas, clearly explained and put in context for readers unfamiliar with the topic at hand. Our expert authors focus on How and Why, not just Who, What, When, and Where. They will expand your thinking about familiar topics and give you a grounding in new and important topics.
Berkshire is a very small company, but we’re mostly known for very big works. Several of our very small books have been very successful. It’s no wonder we were drawn to the OUP series called Very Short Introductions. The concept is one that we know well: providing short, expert-written overviews of important subjects. In fact, that’s exactly what our encyclopedias are designed to do.
- First, our books will actually be short – about half the length of the OUP books. We know that it’s possible to provide a good overview in 20,000-25,000 words. As Jonathan Spence, author of many acclaimed books about Chinese history, wrote, “It is hard to imagine that such a short book can cover such a vast span of time and space. Berkshire’s This Is China: The First 5,000 Years will help teachers, students, and general readers alike, as they seek for a preliminary guide to the contexts and complexities of Chinese culture.”
- Second, we’re designing the books to be more readable, with a comfortable typeface and clear subheadings for easy browsing. We truly intend these to be read on the subway to work, with on a mobile device or in print. The ebooks will be fully accessible based on the latest standards.
- Third, we’ll be adventurous in our subjects, international and cross-cultural, and we’ll have a diverse group of authors, many from outside the US and Europe.
- In keeping with our company tagline “Knowledge for our common future,” we are asking authors to consider the relevance of their work to the challenges we face today, and to how we create a sustainable future.
- And we’ll be careful to guide readers unfamiliar with a subject by providing definitions and context before going deeper. Every VVSI will answer these questions: Why should I care, how does this connect with things I already know, and what aids are there to help me remember what I’ve read and apply it?
- Our VVSI topics are interrelated, just as encyclopedia articles are. As we build the collection it will be easy to create your own self-study program.
- Finally, the Berkshire VVSI series is focused on the future and on sustainability. We won’t necessarily use those words in the title of individual books, but the series as a whole is designed under the framework of “Knowledge for our common future.”
Like the OUP series, ours also provide recommendations for further research, timelines, and illustrations. We provide abstracts and quotations from original sources. Some include other material Berkshire is known for, such as lists of movies and TV shows and other popular culture related to the topic. An initial list for 2022 follows, and we are in process of adding more titles to the 2022-24 schedule:
- Disease – William H. McNeill et al.
- Energy – Vaclav Smil et al.
- Globalization – Miguel A. Centeno et al.
- Migration – Adam McKeown, Craig Lockard, et al.
- Social Capital – Michael Woolcock, Xavier de Souza Briggs, et al.
- Third Places – Ray Oldenburg and Karen Christensen
- Warfare – Melvin Page et al.
- Technology – Aidan Davison