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The Fall of Constantinople Audible – Unabridged

4.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 41 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 16, 2009
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001Q58IA2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Runciman's account of the Fall of Constantinople is an excellent book to read. Beginning with the Ottoman advance into Europe in the later 14th century, and ultimately ending with the City's capture in 1453, he weaves a story that is both historically accurate as well as emotionally moving.
We read about the desperate attempts by the last Byzantine Emperors to look for help from an increasingly indifferent West. We note the internal strife between the Chrisitian kingdoms of the Balkans, both Latin and Orthodox, that created disunity and allowed the Ottoman sultans to conquer territories one by one until Constantinople was completely surrounded and isolated. We also hear of the sad accounts of the conditions within this once great City that was hailed as the Eye of all the World. By the time of the City's capture, it was a hollow shell of its former glory.
It is the last chapter in the thousand year history of Byzantium, and all its characters appear to face a noble and heroic end defending their capital. Yet, the Ottomans, Runciman says, brought a new breath of vitality to Constantinople and its conquered territories. The City was rebuilt, and the Greeks survived as best they could, up until the early 20th century. Runciman also suggests the Ottoman Turks were the better conquererors than the Latins might have been since the Greeks and Slavs were allowed to keep their Orthodox faith and culture, something that might have been forcibly lost under the Papal West.
With superb writing, excellent narration, and great historical analysis, Runciman has written a fantastic book, and one that has been the standard for decades now. Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
Sir Steven Runciman was one of the English language's (if not the world's) leading scholars of the Crusades and the Eastern Roman Empire, and this brief but powerful book shows why. Norwich and his popular-history volumes of Byzantine history may be a more contemporary, personality-driven look at the story, but nobody can match, in my opinion, Runciman for both breadth of scholarship and elegant, intelligent, and highly readable prose.

Runciman shows that the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on May 29, 1453 (550 years ago today!) was both inevitable and of mostly marginal historical significance (except, of course, to the people of the city itself). It had always seemed to me an event of epochal importance -- history's pages finally slamming shut on the Roman Empire. But in literally his first sentence, Sir Steven disabuses us of this notion, or that the fall marked the close of the Middle Ages. Indeed, "only the Papacy and a few scholars and romanticists had been genuinely shocked at the thought of the great historic Christian city passing into the hands of the infidel" (p. 179). For the most part, it was part of the rising tide of Turkish conquest, alarming in a general way, but not immediately catastrophic to the dying empire's fickle co-religionists in the West.

Runciman's narrative is engrossing, full of political tension, military conflict, and the religious disputes that always colored Byzantine history. His characterizations are insightful, his descriptions colorful, his writing elegiac -- at times even poetic -- well-sourced (both Christian and Muslim authorities are consulted), and frequently entertaining, even when discussing a sad and even horrific topic. His larger works may not be to everyone's taste (for topic more than style), but a short work like this one, on an interesting and oft-neglected theme, is a worthwhile read for any student of history. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The story of Constantinople's fall is epic. It was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which was, in actuality, the eastern half of the Roman Empire -- an empire which, according to many history books, "fell" in 476 A.D. In fact, only the western half of the empire succumbed to the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, and Vandals -- the eastern half of the empire survived for a thousand years, referred to as "Byzantine" by historians about the time of the Emperor, Heraclius (610-641 A.D.), in deference to the fact that by that time the empire was largely Greek-speaking, and "Byzantium" was the original name of the site upon which Constantinople was built. Runciman tells the fascinating story of the fall of the city straightforwardly; he provides ample footnotes for the novice, and the volume also contains a number of useful maps. The book is especially good at capturing the impending sense of doom that enveloped Constantinople as the 15th century wore on - thanks to the religious schism between Latin and Orthodox Christianity, no help would be forthcoming from the West, and one can only admire the steely resolve of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, who resolved to resist the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks, despite the Sultan's generous terms if the city would surrender. This is a concise and eminently readable account of a turning point in the history of the Western World. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are few historical events that conjure up the adventure, drama and pation of the fall of Constantinople; Barbarian hordes, age old empires, tremendous siege engines, feuding merchant states, conflicted religious leaders, age old prophecies of doom (or victory depending on your view), naval battles and finally a philosopher emperor who having failed to get the outside support his city needs to survive, dies at the hands of the enemy while defending the city's walls, his body never to be found. This book tells the story of the final empire of the Greeks, as if told by a story-teller rocking in a chair by a fire. The story is that good, the characters, their motives and actions are all that good, and they are all true. Some of my favorite parts were the descriptions of the Sultan's Janissaries, and the work of Urban, the canon builder that Constantine turned away, and who Mehmet was only too eager to hire.
If you enjoyed any of Norwich's books on the rise and fall of Byzantium, then this book serves as an excellent conclusion. The author, Mr. Runciman, does a fantastic job of detailing the story, placing it in its appropriate historical time frame and setting the record straight on many elements. One of his central tenemants is the arbitrary nature of defining Constantinople's fall as the 'end' of the Dark Ages, and he does a convincing job of making his point that many of the effects often ascribed to the fall had long been in process. First published in 1965, this is by no means the latest re-telling of this event, but its ability to stand the test of time certainly reinforces that it is one of, if not outright, the best.
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