This is the softcover reprint of the very popular hardcover edition. The theory of large cardinals is currently a broad mainstream of modern set theory, the main area of investigation for the analysis of the relative consistency of mathematical propositions and possible new axioms for mathematics. The first of a projected multi-volume series, this book provides a comprehensive account of the theory of large cardinals from its beginnings and some of the direct outgrowths leading to the frontiers of contemporary research. A “genetic” approach is taken, presenting the subject in the context of its historical development. With hindsight the consequential avenues are pursued and the most elegant or accessible expositions given. With open questions and speculations provided throughout the reader should not only come to appreciate the scope and coherence of the overall enterprise but also become prepared to pursue research in several specific areas by studying the relevant sections.