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

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In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire almost doubled its size and became a superpower in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This book traces the life of Sultan Selim, who was responsible for the Ottoman Empire’s expansion and declared himself caliph of the Muslims – bringing together (at least in protocol) the secular and religious authority after centuries of separation.

This book chronologically narrates Selim’s life, but the narrative digresses to explore other world events. For instance, it discusses the empires’ levels of tolerance of populations under their rule that adhere to religions different from the ones endorsed by the ruling empires. The narrative concludes that non-Christian empires were more tolerant of religious minorities under their rule than were Christian empires. A substantial portion of the narrative discusses the discovery of the New World. Here, the narrative’s aim seems to show that the expansion of the Ottoman Empire was among the impetuses that spurred the Atlantic Voyages in an effort to avoid the Ottoman monopoly on trade routes. Some of these digressions tie into the overall narrative, but the connections with others are more opaque.

The text flows easily and is easy to read. The narrative attempts to help readers see familiar historical themes from a different lens, hence it engages in alternative historical narratives. Some of the historical connections it makes are clear, but others need more clarification. Overall, an interesting read – especially for readers interested in Ottoman history.


Reviewed By:

Author Alan Mikhail
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 512 pages
Publisher Liveright
Publish Date 8/18/2020
ISBN 9781631492396
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2020
Category History
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