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The authors are happy to accept this review but would also like to add a short comment.

The eminent environmental and world historian, John McNeill, apparently both loves and hates my book. He writes: ‘As a story of innovation and achievement in the history of the West, this is a fine book, with many insightful passages and interesting details. As a comparative history, it is peppered with intellectual disasters’.

I am grateful for the chance to respond to Elisabeth Mincin’s review of my book because, for all her goodwill and expertise, she does not engage far with my reading of the Alexiad and, where she does, she often misrepresents it.

As an historian, she makes two main points about the Alexiad itself: that it is a flawed history yet a history of real events nevertheless.

My argument is that racism, defined as prejudice against ethnic descent coupled with discriminatory action, is generally triggered by political projects. This explains my approach to the 20th century: I wanted to understand the changing scale and nature of racism which led to processes of genocide.

I very much welcome this review, partly because it is supportive of the book, but also because I think that the substantive criticism within it is entirely reasonable. Some of that criticism concerns things which I consciously omitted, but the most useful elements of it are about the things which I got wrong.

I thank Dr. Al-Gailani for his careful reading of and thoughtful reflections on my book, and I appreciate the uncommon opportunity to respond to a few of the interesting observations that he raised.

Douglas Whalin's review of my 2013 book on social conflict in the age of Justinian, or, perhaps better, in the 'long sixth century', was doubly welcome.

I am very grateful to Dr Watson for such a generous and engaging review. Her own book, Under the Hammer: Edward I and Scotland, 1286–1307 (1997) – along with such works as Colm McNamee’s The Wars of the Bruces: Scotland, England and Ireland, 1306ံ–28 (1997) and A. A. M.

I have very little to add to Dr Linch’s extremely generous and thoughtful review. I am particularly pleased that he draws attention to the online commentary which is designed to supplement the biography at lifeofwellington.co.uk.

It is gratifying to read that Tom Crook recognises the depth of primary research that lies behind our analysis and interpretation of public health in Edinburgh and the early career of Sir Henry Littlejohn.

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