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The title of A History of Borno, Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State has two ambiguities. Situated in the Sahel, Borno did not span the Sahara. It was Trans-Saharan by being linked culturally and economically to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, rather than to the Atlantic. Whether the failing state is Nigeria or Borno is also unclear.
In Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and San Francisco Bay Area, historian Peter Cole compares the union histories of two port cities, the militant struggles of dockworkers against racial discrimination, their response to technology (in the form of containerisation),
Grootplaas, a produce farm that specialises in citrus and numbers around 900 hectares in size, is the subject of Maxim Bolt’s latest monograph, Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.
In a review in this very forum in 2009 Clare Anderson praised a shift in Indian Ocean studies.
For every large historical topic – and the transatlantic slave trade is certainly a large one – there is a need for good small books to introduce the academic understanding of the topic to students and the general public. The writing of a good small book on a large topic, however, can be no small challenge.
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.