My teaching and research interests range broadly across Middle Eastern history from the rise of Islam down to the present. These interests include the formative period of Islam (ca. 600-900 CE), the ways in which Muslim peoples have defined themselves and their cultural identities through their historical writing, the medieval Mediterranean world, the Crusades (a distinctly European phenomenon which had a considerable impact in the eastern Mediterranean), the international relations of the Middle East in the 20th century, and contemporary Islamist movements. In pursuit of these interests, and also because I am restless, I have lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East (though never enough), as well as many parts of Europe and Asia.

  • The adaptation of Christian communities in Syria and Mesopotamia to Muslim rule during the first four Islamic centuries (ca. 630-1070 CE).
  • From Saladin to the Mongols: the Ayyubids of Damascus, 1193-1260 (SUNY Press, 1977)
    The changing structures of political life in Syria and Egypt in the first half of the thirteenth century.
  • The History of al-Tabari, vol. 15: The Crisis of the Early Caliphate (SUNY Press, 1990)
    Annotated translation of the key Arabic source (composed ca. 900) for the crucial reign of the caliph Uthman.
  • Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (Princeton Univ. Pr, 1991)
    An evaluation and critique of the field of Islamic historical studies, focusing on the period 600-1500.
  • Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age (Univ. of California Pr., 1999, 2005).
    Reflections on the critical problems confronting Middle Easterners and Muslims in the late twentieth century.
  • Mu’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan: From Arabia to Empire (OneWorld, 2006)
    A concise biography of one of the most intriguing and controversial of the early caliphs (reigned 660-680).
  • Entre la memoria y el deseo. Oriente Medio en una epoca turbulenta (Legado andalusi, 2009)
    Spanish translation of “Between Memory and Desire”
  • Islam tarihi metodolojisi (Istanbul: Litera Yayincilik, 2004)
    Turkish translation of “Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry”


  • History 46
    The Middle East, from the Rise of Islam to the Present
  • History 119
    The Crusades, 1095-1291
  • History 145A
    History of the Islamic World: the Formative Period, 600-900
  • History 145B
    History of the Islamic World: Consolidation and Expansion, 900-1400
  • History 145D
    War and Diplomacy in the Middle East, 1878-present
  • History 245A-B
    Research Seminar in Islamic and Middle Eastern History


  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1980-81)
  • Editor, International Journal of Middle East Studies (1994-99)
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, American University in Cairo (fall 1998)
  • Professeur invité, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (spring 2001)
  • President, Middle East Studies Association of North America (2001)
  • Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford University (2006-07)