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Sometimes (not often enough) an academic book comes along that ticks all the boxes: it is based on thorough research, spanning archives on different continents, engaging with rich and varied source materials; it is held together by a tight set of themes; it is written in beautiful prose.
The proliferation of computer databases and the digitization of sources online are transforming the profession. Scholars can now do substantial original research without needing to travel to distant archives. Massive collections of documents are at our fingertips. Online databases are encouraging the democratization of historical research.