‘MTSU On the Record’ follows Middle East spy story...

‘MTSU On the Record’ follows Middle East spy story with history professor

After years of researching the history of the Middle East, a member of the MTSU community explained how he turned to historical fiction on a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program. 

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Ron Messier, a professor emeritus of history and a former director of the University Honors Program (now the University Honors College), first aired July 13 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and

You can listen to their conversation via the Soundcloud link above.

Dr. Ron Messier, professor emeritus, sociology

Dr. Ron Messier

Gina K. Logue, MTSU News and Media Relations specialist

Gina K. Logue

Messier’s first novel, “The Mapmaker and the Pope,” follows a young Muslim from what’s now called Turkey who travels to Baghdad at the turn of the first century in search of an education.

He becomes embroiled in political intrigue, however, when some of his fellow students entice him to engage in espionage.

The novel is based on the lives of two real men: a medieval geographer, Mohammad Abul-Qasim Ibn Hawqal, and Gerbert d’Aurillac, who studied mathematics as a young man at the same university Ibn Hawqal attended in Fez, Morocco. D’Aurillac later became Pope Sylvester II.

WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM logo“The next step in the equation was, if we had these two men … in the same university, surely they would have gotten together and compared notes and compared techniques,” Messier said. “That’s what happens in the novel.”

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.