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How did the world of nation-states come about? What happened to the world of empires that preceded it? How did the transition take place and how inevitable was it? These may seem (and indeed are) old questions.
Linda Colley's Britons has enjoyed a long afterlife. Her 1992 volume has become a key historiographical battleground for long-18th-century British historians. 'Four Nations' scholars have tested (and for the most part rejected) the British unity that Colley argued was forged in this period (1), while those of England have remained just as sceptical.
The importance and relevance of this book cannot be underestimated. It demands a reassessment of the relationships between the different regions and countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Although this study is concerned with the wider themes suggested by the title, it is essentially about their specific impact on social, political and economic life in Tunisia during the 19th century.