About this Site
I have created this website for travelers – those who might be planning a future trip abroad or those who wish to travel vicariously from the comfort of their homes. During the past 25 years, I have lectured on 120 travel-study trips, including 65 with the Stanford Travel/Study program. I want to make the results of my research easily available to those who have traveled with me and to others who are equally curious to learn.
My materials have four features that are not readily available in other websites, books, or articles.
(1) In my analysis of empires and nation states, I present innovative perspectives on wealth creation and political power. My approach reflects that I am an economist turned historian.
(2) My framework for analysis consists of five categories – origins (how and when the empire began), control (how rulers gained political legitimacy), wealth (through agriculture, trade, and conquest), decline (from succession struggles, fruitless conquests, religious overspending, or peasant rebellions), and lessons (for later hegemonic states). I apply that framework to twelve of the world’s most fascinating empires.
(3) Throughout my essays on countries and regions to which I have traveled, I synthesize and explain a wide range of historical information. I believe that the essence of good teaching is an ability to make complicated issues more understandable. I last updated the essays in 2020.
(4) At the end of each essay, I include a section on sites that I visited on travel/study trips. For each site visited, I offer a brief synthesis of the site’s history and of the most interesting things to visit.