Global History
Current Debates

How to Write Fake Global History

Cornell Fleischer
Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies at The University of Chicago
Cemal Kafadar
Professor of History and Turkish Studies in Harvard University
Sanjay Subrahmanyam
Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA
Published September 9, 2020
  • Ottoman Empire,
  • Sultan Selim,
  • Global History,
  • Early Modern Period,
  • Islamic History
How to Cite
Fleischer, C., Kafadar, C., & Subrahmanyam, S. (2020). How to Write Fake Global History. Cromohs - Cyber Review of Modern Historiography.


There has been a recent surge of publications in “global history”, including on the medieval and early modern periods. While many of these are worthy pieces of research, some of them are what can only be termed “fake global history”, driven by irresponsible sensationalism and the crude exigencies of the market. Here we look at a particular example of this, Yale professor Alan Mikhail’s God’s Shadow. Ostensibly about the global impact of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim (r. 1512-20), this work fails every test of scholarly soundness. Yet, it is being acclaimed by the media as a work of great significance. We look into what this means today for “global history” as a practice.


Image Caption: Illustration from “Exposition on the Prophet Ezra”, a manuscript Ottoman history by Felix da Costa (1687). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.