While writing his critically successful novel Upon a Wheel on Fire, set against the organs of WWII, Paul Grieve became interested in the same events in the eastern Mediterranean, and particularly in the end of the Ottoman Empire and origins of the State of Israel. In order to understand the resulting conflicts in the present, Grieve decided to study Islam. After two years at the Mosquee de Paris he spent a further three years in the Middle East studying Islamic history, jurisprudence, politics and Arabic, with experts at Cairo University and the American University. The result is this book and a second novel. Grieve now lives in London.