The chronological treatment of the subject is of course pleasing to the genealogical mind as we follow the birth (and deaths) of various societies that have helped to promote the topic and campaigned for more access to public records. The Society of Genealogists comes in for a bit of a drubbing but perhaps that's a fair reflection on their attitude to various new initiatives throughout their history given the evidence presented by Sharpe as a long-time SoG member?
Victorian gentlemen genealogists and their inspired "descendants" take the story forward into the 20th century with great side stories on antediluvian Government responses to growing public demands, dedication to the cause (Percival Boyd, I salute you), the WDYTYA democratisation of genealogy and the extraordinary effect that the rise of the internet has had on the business of genealogy. Perhaps you shouldn't be too surprised to learn that "Father of the World Wide Web" Tim Berners-Lee's own father, Conway, was a pioneer of computing for genealogy. The book finishes off with a chapter on DNA as a tool for genealogists in which I think I finally got my head around the different types and what they can actually contribute to our search through the past. Looking to the future, the observations on the rise of personal privacy legislation and "throwaway" digital communications are also definitely something to ponder on.
I have to say I really enjoyed reading this book - it helped my understanding and appreciation of the resources we have access to today and made me think about the issues involved in gaining more access in the future.
I will conclude by blatantly lifting a brilliant quote from the book, originally attributed to the indomitable John Horace Round [1854-1928] which I think chimes perfectly with my philosophy for this website,
"The topographer should always have a pedigree by his side, and the genealogist a local map. When you have once grasped the method of combining the two studies, you will be surprised at the results."