On the Spot: Paul M. Cobb

We ask leading historians 20 questions on why their research matters, one book everyone should read and their views on the Tudors ...


Because I find the elegant, varied and voluminous literary culture of the medieval Islamic world to be wonderfully challenging and enriching.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you?

Contingency, the humbling notion that no one can predict what the next step in history will be while it is happening. 

Which history book has had the greatest influence on you?

Marshall Hodgson’s The Venture of Islam. Wonderfully idiosyncratic, but thoughtful, humanistic history on the global scale. 

What book in your field should everyone read?

Edward Said’s Orientalism, although not my field exactly. 

Which moment would you most like to go back to?

Pope Urban II’s crusade speech at Claremont in 1095, I suppose. Would be nice to know what he really said. 

Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?

My PhD supervisor, Fred M. Donner. A careful historian, accessible writer, and generous scholar.

Which person in history would you most like to have met?

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.