I just got back from South Carolina, where I gave two talks on “The Roots of Western Liberty,” which gave me the chance to discuss how the historical trajectories of the political systems of western Europe differed from those of the Islamic world, Muscovy (the Russian empire), India, and China. (In all four cases, the Mongols played quite a major role; they would have overrun Europe, had it not been for the death by poisoning of the great Khan Ogedai, on December 11, 1241. Western Europe was saved, but the other major regions of Eurasia were not.) The major interest, of course, was in the roots of Islamic political thought. In addition to Bernard Lewis’s various books, I highly recommend Antony Black’s excellent but less known The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present, which I have found very helpful.
I’ve got the weekend to finish up my taxes (ugh) and to prepare for hitting the road again on Monday, when I head out to Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, and Chicago. My lecture schedule is online, in case anyone wants to attend.