TO THOSE NOT of a historical mind, a peerage (and I mean a reference book describing and detailing the titled families of these islands, not the now degraded means by which friends of Mr Blair's sit in an emasculated House of Lords) is a redundant, and even an offensive, object. Why ever, they ask, should one want to know who the living descendants are of the fourth Duke of Norfolk? What relevance to this age of inclusivity has a directory of nobs, to% and gents and their distant and often nondescript relations? Are not such reference books useful merely to a small and exclusive club, or the snobs who fawn on it?
This 107th edition of Burke is the mightiest yet. It is also, its publisher warns, quite possibly the last that will appear in book form. Burke is now online. For a subscription of £99 a year you can have access via the Internet to its compendious