I’m an academic renegade.
The first day of my PhD program at University of Chicago, my advisor said, “You know there are no jobs, right?” I knew, but I didn’t care. I wanted to write about history for a broader audience than the other five people interested in my dissertation topic. I wanted to write for history buffs and nerdy kids and the general intelligent reader. (That would be you, right?)
Officially my degree is in the history of the Indian sub-continent, with strong sub-fields in European imperialism and Islam. I feel strongly that the West in general and Americans in particular need to know more about the history of other parts of the world. That belief is often reflected in the topics I choose to write about, whether I’m working on a small story (feather hats in ancient Peru, anyone?) or a big one (Mankind: the Story of All of Us).
These days I write about a wide range of historical topics for history buffs, nerdy kids and–you get the idea. On any given day I could be working on World War I recruiting posters, the mud mosques of West Africa, the first European translation of the Arabian Nights, Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, or the history of absinth. At least half the time I’m writing outside of “my field”, exploring odd corners of the past with field-tested research skills, a red-hot library card, and a large bump of curiosity.
Basically, I’m interested in the times and places where two cultures meet and change each other. Come along for the ride.