John Tolan was born in Milwaukee and received a BA in Classics from Yale and an MA and PhD in History from the University of Chicago. He has taught and lectured in universities in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East and is currently Professor of History at the University of Nantes (France). He works on the history of the rich web of relations in the medieval Mediterranean world, between Jews, Christians and Muslims. While conflict was common (then as now), cultural, intellectual and economic exchange was essential to the development of Arab, Latin and Byzantine cultures. Far from being the stage of a "clash of civilizations", the Mediterranean was (and is) complex mesh of variegated interdependent cultures. John Tolan makes public lectures in this field in North America, Europe and worldwide.