Historian Robert Lacey is known for getting very serious about his subjects, immersing himself in the culture and personalities of the people and places he studies.  He just released up the follow-up to his 1980's classic on Saudi Arabia, The Kingdom; it's called Inside the KingdomLacey lived in Saudi Arabia for 3 1/2 years to research the book, and still resides there.  During his Big Think interview he painted a vivid picture of a culture managing wealth, modernity, and an extremely powerful religious conservatism that mandates "singles" and "families" counters and veiled booths even at the local McDonald's.