Randall Collins convincingly argues that much of Max Weber's work has been misunderstood, and that many of his most striking and sophisticated theories have been overlooked. By analysing hitherto little known aspects of Weber's writings, Professor Collins is able both to offer a new interpretation of Weberian sociology and to show how the more fruitful lines of the Weberian approach can be projected to an analysis of current world issues. Professor Collins begins with Weber's theory of the rise of capitalism, examining it in the light of Weber's later writings on the subject and extending the Weberian line of reasoning to suggest a 'Weberian revolution' in both medieval Europe and China. He also offers a new interpretation of Weber's theory of politics, showing it to be a 'world-system' model; and he expands this into a theory of geopolitics, using as a particular illustration the prediction of the future decline of Russian world power. Another 'buried treasure' in the corpus is Weber's conflict theory of the family as sex and property, which Professor Collins applies to the historical question of the conditions that led to the initial rise in the status of women.
The broad view of Weber's works shows that Weberian sociology remains intellectually alive and that many of his theories still represent the frontier of our knowledge about large-scale social processes.