He is Director of the Middle East Institute at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore. Born and educated in England (B.A. Cambridge, 1966, D.Phil Oxford 1972), he taught at Durham University for nineteen years before moving to the United States in 1994. He has also taught at Harvard (1991-92) and at the University of California at Berkeley (fall quarter, 1992). Between 1994 and 2011, he was Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, serving as Director of the University’s Middle East Center between 1994 and 2000. He was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls’ College, Oxford, for Hilary and Trinity terms in 2003. In 2011, he became Visiting Research Professor at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, and was appointed Director in 2014.
He is a historian of the 19th and 20th century Middle East whose main academic focus has been on Iraq and Bilad al-Sham. He is co-author, with Marion-Farouk-Sluglett of Iraq since 1958: from Revolution to Dictatorship (3rd edition, 2001), which has been translated into Arabic, Czech and German. A new and completely revised edition of his doctoral thesis, Britain in Iraq: Contriving King and Country, about the British occupation and mandate, was published by Columbia University Press in 2007. Three recent edited collections are: The Urban Social History of the Middle East, 1750-1950, Syracuse University Press, 2008, Bilad al-Sham under Ottoman Rule: Essays in Honour of Abdul-Karim Rafeq, Brill, 2010, and (with Jordi Tejel, Riccardo Bocco and Hamit Bozarslan), Writing the Modern History of Iraq: Historiographical and Political Challenges, London, World Scientific Publishing, 2012. His most recent publication (with Andrew Currie) is An Atlas of Islamic History, Routledge, London and New York, 2014. In 2012-13 he was President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.