People down on their luck fleeing to the colonies on the first available ship is a mainstay of 19th century fiction. It was a convenient way for an author to either get rid of an unnecessary character, or to bring a surprise new person into the narrative mix with dramatic effect.
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.
In Caribbean New Orleans Cécile Vidal has brought together a prodigious volume and range of archival research in what is the most detailed social history of the city during the French period.
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.