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Bulliet abandons the historian's habit of viewing Islamic history "from the center," that is, focusing on the rise and fall of imperial dynasties. Instead, he derives an understanding of how and why Islam became-and continues to be-so rooted in the social structure of the vast majority of people who lived far from the political locus and did not see the caliphate as essential in their lives.
Richard W. Bulliet is professor of history at Columbia University. A former Guggenheim fellow, he is the editor of The Columbia History of the Twentieth Century and author of The Camel and the Wheel. He is also the author of four novels of mystery and intrigue.