This book has a history embracing more than ten years, in various characters, and has accordingly acquired some profound debts.
I have received generous support from St John's College, Cambridge, Churchill College, Cambridge, and also from the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. Since arriving at Sydney University I have received invaluable guidance from Michael Jackson, Richard Waterhouse and Shane White.
Early versions of the chapters have been delivered in a number of conferences and seminars. In particular the Atlantic History Seminar in August 1997 at Harvard University was an invaluable forum in which to present ideas and I thank Bernard Bailyn for the opportunity to participate and for the inspiration which he and the other participants provided. My thanks also to the participants in The touch of the real: A symposium hosting Stephen Greenblatt, at the Humanities Research Centre, the Australian National University, June 1998. Stephen Greenblatt's generous suggestions were also greatly appreciated. I am grateful to the editors of The Historical Journal, The Journal of the History of Ideas and to Manchester University Press for permission to reproduce and revise previously published material.
More people than I can remember have aided in various ways. They include Richard Bourke, Martin Dzelzainis, Sam Glover, Mark Goldie, Neil Kenny, Andrew McRae, Jonathan Scott, John O. Ward and Iain Wright. Karen Kupperman and Anthony Pagden contributed greatly in advising on the direction the project should take. David Armitage has been untiring in his encouragement and unflinching in his intellectual generosity. My students have many times forced me to reconsider my convictions concerning some of the book's central arguments. I am indebted also to Richard Fisher at Cambridge University Press for his great patience. The anonymous readers for the Press have been particularly helpful in the final stages.
I have several special debts. Conal Condren set me on the path that led me here. He has tried to teach me to be more sceptical, as well as the best