God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World

Liveright: Norton. Aug. 2020. 512p. ISBN 9781631492396. $39.95. HIST
Geographically, Turkey lies at the center of the world. Mikhail (history, Yale Univ.; Under Osman’s Tree) argues that Turkey’s Ottoman Empire during early modern history was the center of the world’s economic, social, and political structure. The work begins in the years following the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453 through the rise of Sultan Selim I. The book details Selim’s life from his governorship in Trabzon, Turkey, to his conquests as Ottoman Sultan in the 1510s. Readers gain insight into the incredible influence of the Ottoman civilization at the dawn of modern history. But Mikhail goes even further, placing Ottoman civilization in its global context. He shows that it is no accident that Columbus’s 1492 voyage coincides with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, or that Martin Luther could use the Sultan’s long shadow as fuel against the Pope. Global economics and politics are well illuminated, as are the connections and relationships between Eurasia and the Americas. Excellent maps and illustrations throughout detail the cities, societies, and cultural regions in circa 1500.
VERDICT A wonderful, exciting, engaging, scholarly yet accessible work for all readers of world history, a book that addresses a critical but often overlooked axis of global history.
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