A concise overview of sociology's greatest classic thinker. Weber emerges as a multisided intellectual personality, whose intellectual ambivalence is related to a neurotic breakdown in mid career and to the compromises he was forced to make among the conflicting politievanscal and intellectual currents of his time. Here we see what kinds of philosophical idealism Weber favored and what kinds he rejected, as well as his position on the "battle of methods" among the economists of his day. Weber's famous "Protestant Ethic" thesis is put in proper perspective as an intellectual gambit in one particular period of his life, rather than as his central achievement. Weber's overall view of social change is examined, drawing on several of his crucial but little-known works, on the sociology of ancient agrarian societies and on the long chain of organizational conditions that finally led to modern capitalism. Also treated are Weber's major works on the sociology of religion and his contributions to systematic theory, especially social stratification. The many strands of Weber's theorizing, and his tremendous scope of comparisons across world history, are here brought into a clear and manageable focus. "Randall Collins is the leading sociological theorist of his generation. He has also done more than anyone else to use and develop Weberian sociology. Accordingly we expect much from Collins on Weber and Max Weber does not disappoint." --Whitney Pope, Indiana University "A lively, efficient, reliable interpretation, captivating for the novice, provocative for the expert. . . . Typical Collins." --Alan Sica, University of Kansas "A good introductory survey of Weber's major writings. It is interesting reading and highly informative." --Contemporary Sociology "A good capsule biography . . . very readable . . . honors clarity, style, and the value of popular understanding." --The Madison Independent Books in Review "Ideal for an introductory course on Weber." --EthicsCollins, Randall is the author of 'Max Weber A Skeleton Key', published 1985 under ISBN 9780803925519 and ISBN 0803925514.