God's new arrival Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making high quality of the Modern World outlet sale

God's new arrival Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making high quality of the Modern World outlet sale

God's new arrival Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making high quality of the Modern World outlet sale

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Best Books of the Year • Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, History Today
Longlisted • Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
Editors'' Choice • New York Times Book Review

“A stunning work of global history. . . . Alan Mikhail offers a bold and thoroughly convincing new way to think about the origins of the modern world. . . . A tour de force.” ―Greg Grandin

Long neglected in world history, the Ottoman Empire was a hub of intellectual fervor, geopolitical power, and enlightened pluralistic rule. At the height of their authority in the sixteenth century, the Ottomans, with extraordinary military dominance and unparalleled monopolies over trade routes, controlled more territory and ruled over more people than any world power, forcing Europeans out of the Mediterranean and to the New World.

Yet, despite its towering influence and centrality to the rise of our modern world, the Ottoman Empire’s history has for centuries been distorted, misrepresented, and even suppressed in the West. Now Alan Mikhail presents a vitally needed recasting of Ottoman history, retelling the story of the Ottoman conquest of the world through the dramatic biography of Sultan Selim I (1470–1520).

Born to a concubine, and the fourth of his sultan father’s ten sons, Selim was never meant to inherit the throne. With personal charisma and military prowess―as well as the guidance of his remarkably gifted mother, Gülbahar―Selim claimed power over the empire in 1512 and, through ruthless ambition, nearly tripled the territory under Ottoman control, building a governing structure that lasted into the twentieth century. At the same time, Selim―known by his subjects as “God’s Shadow on Earth”―fostered religious diversity, welcoming Jews among other minority populations into the empire; encouraged learning and philosophy; and penned his own verse.

Drawing on previously unexamined sources from multiple languages, and with original maps and stunning illustrations, Mikhail’s game-changing account “challenges readers to recalibrate their sense of history” (Leslie Peirce), adroitly using Selim’s life to upend prevailing shibboleths about Islamic history and jingoistic “rise of the West” theories that have held sway for decades. Whether recasting Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the “Americas” as a bumbling attempt to slay Muslims or showing how the Ottomans allowed slaves to become the elite of society while Christian states at the very same time waged the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, God’s Shadow radically reshapes our understanding of the importance of Selim’s Ottoman Empire in the history of the modern world.

16 pages of color illustrations; 40 black-and-white illustrations

Review

" God’s Shadow is full of fine details of this cross-cultural encounter, but its most arresting aspect is Mikhail’s second claim: that ''the Ottoman Empire made our modern world.'' He calls his book ''a revisionist account … demonstrating Islam’s constituent role in forming some of the most fundamental aspects of the history of Europe, the Americas and the United States.'' From it, he says, ''a bold new world history emerges, one that overturns shibboleths that have held sway for a millennium. Whether politicians, pundits and traditional historians like it or not, the world we inhabit is very much an Ottoman one''.... The story is always interesting.... The highest praise for a history book is that it makes you think about things in a new way."
Ian Morris, New York Times Book Review

"Captivating.... A welcome and important corrective, Mikhail''s recalibration of the modern era is ambitious and provocative.... Mikhail writes authoritatively, as one would expect from so accomplished a historian. He writes accessibly and vividly, too, which means that the book, while scholarly, is readable, enjoyable, and relatable.... A terrific guide to the Ottomans during a period of profound change."
Peter Frankopan, Air Mail

"Mikhail’s ambitions, like those of his subject, are bold, and in God’s Shadow he has given us three or four books in one. At the centre is a fast-paced biography of its subject whose killing of his siblings, the alleged murder of his father and battlefield exploits makes the work highly readable."
Mark Mazower, Financial Times

"If you want a ticket out of 2020, may I recommend this biography of bloodthirsty Ottoman Sultan Selim I (1470–1520)? It not only argues that Columbus’s voyage to America happened because Europeans were busy avoiding the Turks, it’ll also tell you that the Turks had a thing for moles (in 1470, a Sufi mystic predicted that the next sultan would have seven moles, and indeed Selim was born with seven). There’s also fratricide (a rite of passage for sultans-to-be), insane concubine politics, and circumcision festivals, and it sent me down a rabbit hole reading up on sultans. How’s this for a jetpack out of the present: Look up Ibrahim the Mad (1615–1648), who was raised in a gilded cage, loved plus-size ladies, and drowned 280 women from his harem when he was paranoid that another man had ‘tampered with’ them."
Sandi Tan, Glamour

"Mikhail, chair of Yale’s history department and a specialist in Ottoman history, makes it his mission to demonstrate how this utterly compelling leader helped define his age, bending the world to his will. And he succeeds with a flourish.... Mikhail offers a refreshingly Ottoman-centric picture of the 15th- and 16th-century Mediterranean."
Justin Marozzi, The Spectator

"[A] refreshingly readable history book that offers a new world view.... It challenges conventional Eurocentric narratives about the Matamoros (“moorslaying”) Christopher Columbus and the triggers for the Protestant Reformation. A radical picture of the Ottoman Empire emerges “as a unified juggernaut” conquering and controlling three continents, while Europe was a “mosaic of squabbling polities”. How I wish I’d been in Damascus when Selim discovered the tomb of Ibn ‘Arabi."
Diana Darke, Times Literary Supplement

"[Mikhail] masterfully juxtaposes the triumphs of Selim I’s reign with events taking place elsewhere in the rapidly globalizing world of the early sixteenth century.... God’s Shadow is a revisionist history in the best sense of the term. It offers readers a distinct prism through which to view a familiar and, at times, unfamiliar chronicle of events.... For readers unfamiliar with pre-modern Middle Eastern history, God’s Shadow will be an excellent starting point.... Mikhail’s erudition is global in scope, enabling him to make concrete connections between contemporaneous events in the West and the Middle East."
Clayton Trutor, The New Criterion

"An impressive revisionist history... Mikhail draws on world-spanning source material to demonstrate the enormous, long-felt influence of the Islamic empire... In sharply drawn chapters, many of which contain enough ideas for a separate book, Mikhail restores the Ottoman Empire to its rightful place as a ‘fulcrum’ of global power.... A massively ambitious study, largely accessible and percolating with ideas for further study."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"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.... 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."
Library Journal, starred review

"In this revelatory and wide-ranging account, Yale historian Mikhail . . . recreates the life of Sultan Selim I (1470-1520) and makes a convincing case for the outsize impact of the Ottoman Empire and Islamic culture on the history of Europe and the Americas. . . . Mikhail also sheds new light on female political power during the era, and offers intriguing discussions on topics ranging from the Sunni-Shiite split to the discovery of coffee. Written with flair and deep insight, this thought-provoking account is both a major historical work and a genuine page-turner."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[A] richly detailed, epic history. . . . The book is notable for its revisionist views of the role of Islam and the empire in defining and shaping the New World. . . . History buffs will doubtless enjoy its challenges and rewards."
Michael Cart, Booklist

"Alan Mikhail is a very original and inventive historian."
Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"The Ottoman Empire lurks behind much of the modern world. Alan Mikhail’s new book makes a great introduction to one of the key figures in Ottoman history, Sultan Selim I."
Mary Beard, author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

"The life of the Ottoman sultan Selim I, as told by the gifted historian Alan Mikhail, is an astonishing and thrilling story, worthy of Game of Thrones. Through a tangle of palace intrigue, war, fratricide, and sheer Machiavellian cunning, Selim rose from obscurity to the pinnacle of world power in the sixteenth century. But the scope of Mikhail’s history is broader than this remarkable individual life. God’s Shadow is a radical revision of the narrative of modern history, a revision that restores the Ottoman empire to the central role it played in provoking Columbus’ voyages, in haunting the fears and ambitions of European nation states, and in profoundly influencing the self-understanding of both Catholics and Protestants. Along the way, Mikhail shows that the Muslim culture over which Selim reigned was in many respects far more progressive, tolerant, and cosmopolitan than anything known in the Christian West."
Stephen Greenblatt, author of Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics and The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve

"Alan Mikhail’s bold study of Sultan Selim, his conquests, and reforms rightfully gives the Ottoman Empire and Islam a central place in early modern history. An important book and a lively read as well."
Natalie Zemon Davis, author of Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

"Alan Mikhail’s sprawling book is a geopolitical tour de force in which the West’s vaunted primacy receives a deeply researched, much merited, long overdue recalibration of its historic, ethnocentric self-regard. God’s Shadow is a major learning experience."
David Levering Lewis, author of God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215

"In vivid prose, Alan Mikhail offers us a history written not from the cramped confines of Europe’s kingdoms but from the heights of the Ottoman Empire, circa 1492. While Sultan Selim and his armies conquered vast swathes of the then-known world, Columbus and a handful of companions looked for a way around the great Muslim power.... God’s Shadow will change how you think about both the past and the present."
David Nirenberg, author of Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today

"This deeply researched and elegantly written book restores the Ottoman Empire to its rightful place in world history. [Alan] Mikhail deftly reminds us that leaders outside of Europe had a strong hand in shaping the world as we know it."
Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

"In God’s Shadow, Alan Mikhail challenges readers to recalibrate their sense of history. In his telling of the age of conquest and exploration, it is the Ottoman Sultan Selim who takes pride of place, not Columbus or Vasco da Gama. This warrior sultan doubled the extent of the already vast domains he ruled over, rendering the empire a tri-continental threat. Mikhail traces the global reverberations of this seismic development from China to Mexico, arguing that the Ottoman sultanate was the pivotal power in a world of ambitious polities."
Leslie Peirce, author of Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire

"Alan Mikhail’s God’s Shadow is a stunning work of global history. By examining the Catholic Atlantic’s long, vexed engagement with the Islamic Mediterranean, Mikhail offers a bold and thoroughly convincing new way to think about the origins of the modern world.... A tour de force."
Greg Grandin, author of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

"Alan Mikhail astutely recovers the revealing life of a Turkish sultan who lived in the time of Columbus. Bent on global power, Selim dramatically expanded his Ottoman Empire at the expense of eastern neighbors and European Christians.... By exploring the rivalry and mutual influence of Islam and Christianity in the past, Mikhail offers fresh insights on our world."
Alan Taylor, author of Thomas Jefferson’s Education

About the Author

A leading historian of his generation,  Alan Mikhail, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Yale University, has reforged our understandings of the past through his prize-winning books on the history of the Middle East.

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Peter Glaser
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2020
Shouldn’t we expect something more than pop history from the chair of the Yale History Department? A scholarly historical work must examine the reliability of sources on which the historian relies. This Professor Mikhail rarely does. Time and again, he reports “facts”... See more
Shouldn’t we expect something more than pop history from the chair of the Yale History Department? A scholarly historical work must examine the reliability of sources on which the historian relies. This Professor Mikhail rarely does. Time and again, he reports “facts” like “On August 5, Selim delivered a rousingly inspired speech before leading his army out of Elbistan,” or, describing Selim’s final meeting with his brother before Selim had him strangled, “Ahmed silent, fixed his eyes on the ground on which he languished.” The reader is left wondering, is that true? How do we know that? The footnotes are not helpful. The “rousingly inspired speech” is cited to a secondary source without further citation to what that source relied on.

This is not just a cavil about minor details; the problem infects the text throughout. For instance, virtually all of the chapters concerning Selim’s seizure of power are cited to just three sources: a 2017 secondary source by H. Erdam Cipa, a 1995 PhD thesis translating and examining linguistically the Selīmnāme, and the Selīmnāme itself. The Selīmnāme was written after Selim died and during the reign of his son Suleyman and, as Professor Mikhail concedes when citing passages that are particularly fantastical, is a piece of propaganda meant to glorify its subject.

Professor Mikhail prefaces his notes with the statement that, “To allow as many readers as possible to follow the sources used in this book, I have, when available, cited primary sources in English translation and referenced English-language secondary sources.” That is fine, but it is no substitute in a serious work of history for a frank examination of what we know about Selim and how we know it. Unless the point here was simply to write for the popular audience. I was shocked that Professor Mikhail went so far as to cite Wikipedia as a source. Really? Would he tolerate a student of his citing Wikipedia?

But I don’t even think this book works as pop history, for two reasons. First, Professor Mikhail is not a great writer. His language is frequently clumsy (“rousingly inspired”?) and unengaging. Truly good works of history for a general audience read like a novel. Try Roger Crowley’s 1453 about the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople for a really great read about the Ottoman period.

Second, the big-picture point of this book – that professional historians and lay readers have ignored the role of the Ottoman Empire in shaping the modern world – is surely overblown. How can it be that Professor Mikhail thinks he is virtually the only one who knows that the existence of the Ottoman Empire astride the trade routes between the West and India and China caused the European explorers to sail south around the coast of Africa and west across the Atlantic to access the Orient’s riches? Or that people like Columbus, Cortes and Da Gama, as men of their times, saw their missions as not just economic but as religious as well? Perhaps the general public is not as well informed about these and other matters of history as historians would like, but whole bookshelves of works on this subject are available for those who wish to become educated.

In fact, it is odd that Professor Mikhail chooses to make his point about the role of the Ottoman Empire in the European discovery of America in a book about Selim. Of all of the sultans during the expansionist period of the Ottoman Empire, Selim was the one most focused on expanding the Empire eastward, not westward. The reason to write and read a book about Selim is because it was during his short reign that the Ottomans, through conquest, acquired Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Egypt, and the Hejaz with the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, all of which they retained until World War I. It therefore seems bizarre, to this reader anyway, that fully one quarter of the book is devoted to examining what Professor Mikhail calls the crusading influences on Columbus, Cortes and other Europeans in their conquest of the Americas. That’s an interesting subject, but in a book about Selim, it seems like a glom-on. It also seems like Professor Mikhail was looking for an excuse to take shots at Columbus. Yes, it’s important to examine Selim in a global context, and yes Columbus was hardly a saint, but one hundred pages about the Europeans in the Americas in a book about Selim is out of place. Indeed, if, as Professor Mikhail says at the end of the book, his purpose was to present an alternative interpretation of the European conquest of America – in contrast to what he calls the dominant interpretation that Islam played to role in motivating Columbus, et al. – a book about Selim is an odd place to do it.

The book, in my mind, is also somewhat biased in favor of the Ottomans over the Europeans. He constantly refers to Columbus as Crusader Columbus, which comes across as pejorative, the thought being, I guess, that the Muslims conquered Jerusalem fair and square and Christian attempts to get it back were illegitimate. At one point, he characterizes the fight between Ottomans and Europeans as a struggle over whether “Islam would prevail over Christianity, Ottoman Ecumenicalism over European intolerance.” In a book about Selim, the scourge of Shiite Muslims and who as a young man (the author tells us) “regularly led the raids that brought Caucasian slaves—mostly Christian, mostly white—into the Empire,” this is a bit rich. And it wasn’t just Selim. During the expansionist period of the Empire, the Ottomans took hundreds of thousands of Christian slaves through incessant raiding. If the European Christians saw themselves in a life-or-death struggle with Islam, they had good reason. If the Ottomans tolerated Christians and Jews within the Empire (if you call seizing Christian sons for forced service as Janissaries tolerant), they did so because, as Professor Mikhail concedes, they could afford to. The point here is not to favor Christians over Ottomans; personally, if I were alive in 1500, I would readily choose to live in Istanbul rather than London. For a historian, however, the point is simply to avoid making value judgments and to try to understand people within the context of their times.

On the positive side, the book does cover the relevant period, although it could have done so in far fewer words. And the book has great illustrations. Obviously, a great deal of resources were placed behind the book. The maps are very well conceived and drawn, something that is not always the case with history books. And both the color and black and white reproductions are wonderful. I have always been a fan of Ottoman miniatures, and the author includes a number of these. Yet even here it is strange that Professor Mikhail sources many of the images to stock photos and picture books. The wonderful color reproduction of “Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Painting of Aleppo,” for instance, is cited to Roland and Sabrina Michaud/akg-images. Why not cite to the artist who painted it, the noted sixteenth century polymath Matrakçi Nasuh, and the location of the original work, Istanbul University? The author could also cite to the picture book to aid the reader who might want to see similar images.

In the end, I was very much looking forward to a book about Selim. I share Professor Mikhail’s view that Selim is a much under-appreciated historical figure whose reshaping of the Middle East reverberated at least to the early twentieth century But I was hoping for something more scholarly – a book that really dug into Selim and the eastward expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Instead, we have a book that seems to be of two minds, that seems to be directed against a straw man, and that too often seems agenda-driven.
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Mark Kryzer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Biased Polemic
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2020
I was really disappointed in this book. I expected an objective scholarly treatment of 15th century Ottoman rule and politics. Instead I got a biased anti-European, anti-Christianity polemic. Just one example, "....Ottoman Islam''s ecumenical view of the world versus... See more
I was really disappointed in this book. I expected an objective scholarly treatment of 15th century Ottoman rule and politics. Instead I got a biased anti-European, anti-Christianity polemic. Just one example, "....Ottoman Islam''s ecumenical view of the world versus European Christianity''s violent efforts to achieve religious homogeneity." Followed by, "Pope Innocent VIII, one of the leading proponents of his religion''s savagery...." It just goes on and on from there. Don''t bother to read this.
37 people found this helpful
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david sorenson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Essential Ottoman Empire Reading
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2020
This is much more than a history of Sultan Selim the Grim. It is a history of the global impact of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. What makes the book fascinating is the narrative on Columbus and the other European explorers, who had to sail west... See more
This is much more than a history of Sultan Selim the Grim. It is a history of the global impact of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. What makes the book fascinating is the narrative on Columbus and the other European explorers, who had to sail west because the Ottomans controlled the Mediterranean. While Columbus may have sought gold, silver, and Christian conversions, he was also hoping to form an alliance with the "Great Khan" in Asia to fight the Ottomans on both sides of their vast empire. Author Alan Mikhail also spins the tales of Ottoman victories over the Safavids and the Mamluks, which consolidated most of the world''s Muslims under one house. The book is enjoyable to read, richly illustrated, and well documented.
17 people found this helpful
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CCF
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on September 14, 2020
This book aims to be a popular history, which it is. It is too sensationalist, in my view, and makes very tall claims that do not appear to be fully substantiated by the historical evidence. It uses very few sources in the original Turkish, Arabic or Persian. Very... See more
This book aims to be a popular history, which it is. It is too sensationalist, in my view, and makes very tall claims that do not appear to be fully substantiated by the historical evidence. It uses very few sources in the original Turkish, Arabic or Persian. Very disappointing as a work of history.
19 people found this helpful
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Parul
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not what I expected
Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2020
I really thought this book was going to be about Selim. It’s not. It’s a book about a lot of things—the inquisition, the crusades, the European explorers of the Americas. A huge chunk of the book doesn’t even discuss the Ottoman Empire. All the more disappointing because... See more
I really thought this book was going to be about Selim. It’s not. It’s a book about a lot of things—the inquisition, the crusades, the European explorers of the Americas. A huge chunk of the book doesn’t even discuss the Ottoman Empire. All the more disappointing because that was my real motivation in reading this book.

I agree with other reviewers that the book is more than a little biased in its presentation of Christianity v. Islam I’d really appreciate the author providing me with more facts so I can draw my own conclusions. I appreciate his desire to demonstrate the impact of Islam in the West, but this book doesn’t get at it in a way that I find interesting. It’s more assertions of opinion rather than building the factual case.
13 people found this helpful
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Wesley M. Oliver
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Grand Sweep of History through Ottoman Lens
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2020
This was a great book. I think most people who choose to write a book think the story they''ve choosen to spend years writing about is more substantial than other will. There are grand claims in this book, but there''s no doubt that the events connected in this book were... See more
This was a great book. I think most people who choose to write a book think the story they''ve choosen to spend years writing about is more substantial than other will. There are grand claims in this book, but there''s no doubt that the events connected in this book were pivotal in a great deal of world history.

This is sort of a Guns, Germs, and Steel-style attempt to explain much of the world -- for Mikhail, rather than tools and micro-organisms, it was the intersection of the Ottoman Empire between 1480 and 1520 that explains broad swaths of world history -- from Columbus'' voyage, to Cortez and Mexican colonization, to the Sunni-Shiite conflict, to the Protestant Reformation.

There are period of history that everyone feels somehow a part of -- 4th century BC Athens, first century AD Rome and Jerusalem, the not-so-well defined period of the European Enlightenment, 1776 in Philadelphia, the American Civil War, for instance. After reading this book you will feel like you were a time traveler to the Ottoman Empire between 1480-1520 and witnessed it change the rest of the world.
9 people found this helpful
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Robert J. Crawford
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Selim the Grim, his times, and the Ottoman version of Muslim influence
Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2020
This is a very fun biography on the brief reign of a political genius whose cultural impact was wide and deep, with resonances even today in Erdoğan’s Turkey and western Islamophobia. It is a quick read, with both an interesting narrative and an analysis that fleshes out... See more
This is a very fun biography on the brief reign of a political genius whose cultural impact was wide and deep, with resonances even today in Erdoğan’s Turkey and western Islamophobia. It is a quick read, with both an interesting narrative and an analysis that fleshes out how the people of his time saw the world. Even as a history buff well acquainted with Ottoman history, I learned something new on every single page.

Selim started off as a typical Ottoman prince, born far back in the line and highly unlikely to become the sultan, usually going to the first born. These were brutal times: to avoid civil war, once succession was secured, the surviving brothers almost invariably faced execution. Typically, the sons were shunted off at a young age to gain experience as governors of a province, their concubine mothers in tow as their manager and champion. Proximity to Istanbul was key: whoever reached it first gained great advantage in the struggle for the crown, an opportunity to command the loyalty of the military. As a son fourth down in the line of succession, Selim was given a province far from the capital, Trabzon. Not only did he govern well, but he shrewdly cultivated an image of ferocity, of which the military elite took note: they knew they would be well treated and lavishly funded by him on conquests. When the time came, he easily won their allegiance and vanquished his brothers, which no other son so far down the line had yet done. This intrigue is elegantly explained at a riveting pace.

The book then shifts to an overview of world politics, which was moving into the age of discovery. With the Ottomans as the great superpower of its time, the fear of Islam motivated Ferdinand and Isabel as they kicked the Moors as well as the Jews out of Spain. The Ottomons took a great many of the Ladino Jews in, seeing advantages in the business and manufacturing skills, most particularly of weaponry. The Ottomans were, Mikhail argues, foremost in the mind of Columbus, who wished to find a route to India that 1) wasn’t dominated by the Ottomans and 2) could serve as a staging ground to attack them. This is the reason why many sites in Spanish America bear strangely anti-Islamic names, such as Matamoros (or “kill the moors”). This added greatly to my understanding of the times and fulfills the promise of the subtitle to examine his impact on the formation of the modern world.

Once in power, Selim set about modernizing his military forces and technologies. As a result, he more than doubled the size of the empire, in effect making it majority Muslim for the first time! Beyond his deep thrusts into central Europe, he easily added the Mamluk Empire, which was twice as large as the Ottomans’, both in territories and demographically. Becoming the Governor of the holy sites in Arabia, Selim added the title of supreme religious leader. Interestingly, he failed conquer all of Morocco, which Mikhail argues would have made the Ottomans an Atlantic sea power, perhaps even resulting in competition with Spain and Portugal in exploring the world, a very interesting what-if that I had never before conceived.

Another legacy of Selim was a war on the Shiites of his empire, which was a way to indirectly target Persia. Though I had thought the militant antagonism with the Sunnis dated back to its origin in the 9C, Mikhail argues that Selim created the conditions of the hot conflict in modern times. Selim was characteristically bloodthirsty, practicing near-genocide against them. Nonetheless, he remained tolerant of Christians and Jews in the Empire, allowing to practice their faiths and work so long as they paid a special tax as non-Muslims and accepted certain restrictions on their activities. This caste system to govern minorities is a fascinating aspect of Islamic tradition.

The book concludes with a look at Selim’s impact on everything that followed. Of necessity, this is sketchier, but it is relevant nonetheless. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Islamist President of Turkey, is attempting to emulate Selim, setting him as an example of a future path for Turkey.

This is a wonderful reading experience. Warmly recommended.
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tombarnes
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Christian lake became a Muslim pond
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2021
This seemed to be aimed at a more popular audience, almost with the idea of adjusting emphasis on a cultural scale.  Crusading Europeans vs. Multiculti Ottomans. He passes over the fact that the Mediterranean rim was all Christian in the 700s  that receded to Muslim... See more
This seemed to be aimed at a more popular audience, almost with the idea of adjusting emphasis on a cultural scale.  Crusading Europeans vs. Multiculti Ottomans.
He passes over the fact that the Mediterranean rim was all Christian in the 700s  that receded to Muslim conquest, including all of Spain in 1050. After a 400 year Reconquista the Spaniards finally regained control of the Iberian peninsula. However Christianity still felt like a beleaguered minority on the losing side of world religion contest,  considering the Mediterranean which once was a Christian lake in 1050 was now in 1500  a Muslim pond. There were reasons Columbus and the Spaniards and Portuguese ascribed to the crusading view, not least is the fact at this time period, they are on the historically losing side.
The Ottoman succession intrigue, daily life  were very interesting to read. Their benign way of running things  was interesting however I would not equate the Ottomans hands-off-minority policy to the rest of Islam. The Ottomans were unique and it seems to me, more interested in Power than Religion.
The  macro political geopolitics felt sort of like a  harangue.
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H.K
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great historical research.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 4, 2020
The book uses a variety and numerous resources(ranging from Turkish, European and middle eastern ) The book mainly mentions Sultan Selim I aka selim the grim and the discovery of the americas and the unmentioned link that gave the rise of today. This is not mentioned by...See more
The book uses a variety and numerous resources(ranging from Turkish, European and middle eastern ) The book mainly mentions Sultan Selim I aka selim the grim and the discovery of the americas and the unmentioned link that gave the rise of today. This is not mentioned by many historians and this book places the ottomans and gives it the credit it deserves. Only thing is for people who don''t have much knowledge prior to selim I and of the Ottoman history pre-selim I period may seem quite brief. Another issue noted is that the battles are very brief especually caldiran as shah ismails reason to be bold in war lacks a lot of important details. Those saying its biased probably have some bias towards the Ottomans. Overall would highly recommend to read excellent author!
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Alex H
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book and a great read
Reviewed in Canada on April 21, 2021
Made for a great present
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Aarti Nagarajan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Na
Reviewed in Singapore on September 27, 2020
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