- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 21 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: July 30, 2008
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001DIH1XW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Crowley's first book was not only brilliant, it was also a commercial success; this volume should do as well or even better, for it is narrative history at its best. Crowley, who reads Turkish, was able to consult Ottoman diaries and modern works in Turkish. His accounts of the many land and sea battles are vivid, dramatic and multilayered, as they tell the story from different points of view.
The story begins in 1521 when the Knights of St John (a Christian military order) were routed from the island of Rhodes by the Ottomans and forced to retreat to Malta. The Ottomans were making gains everywhere around the Mediterranean with the help of their allies the Barbary pirates. It was a time of Islamic ascendency as the European powers were in disarray from internal squabbling.
The bulk of the book deals with the siege of Malta (1565). This was arguably one of the most heroic and odds-defying battles in history. About 600 Knights of St John were up against 30,000 Ottoman Turks.Read more ›
I must admit to prejudice here. I still have my copy of Ernle Bradford's magnificent history The Great Siege--paperback, from 1966, cost 5 shillings, and getting quite threadbare from rereading every few years. When one great book like this can spawn a 40-year interest in the subject, you know that you have an outstanding work indeed. Bradford's book is almost entirely limited to the siege of Malta, whereas Crowley's book covers this in under 100 pages. You get much more detail with Bradford, and a dramatic sense of the struggle, much more so than with Crowley. The focus is narrower--so for breadth, turn to Crowley, for depth to Bradford. Both books will give you a look at the personalities involved, and both convey the aspects of warfare at the time. So this is a good addition to your history shelf.
The story of the struggle between the Islamic Ottoman Empire and Catholic Hapsburg Spain for control of the Mediterranean (with important consequences for the lands bordering the Mediterranean) as told by Crowley makes for compelling reading, filled with dazzling characters and astounding events. The Pope fleeing Rome in advance of an army of invading Turks was a real historical possibility, averted by a chain of circumstances perhaps much less likely than normally seems evident from this distance of time. Malta, a geographic key to the central Mediterranean withstood a massive Muslim attack and siege only by the narrowest of margins. And Lepanto, the last great battle of oared ships, could very easily have been lost by the Hapsburgs, and Islamic domination of Italy and the south of France and of Spain might well have followed, greatly altering the future course of events in Europe.
Crowly has done a superlative job of narrating this slice of history and making it wonderfully vivid.
Crowley wastes no time with preliminaries but gets quickly to work in the first chapter with Suleiman's attack on Rhodes. There's no beating around the bush here. Crowley does a terrific job looking at the art of war and how the two sides differed in their respective approaches to battle. On the one hand, the Knights of Saint John, who, like the Templar's, was an international organization with members pulled from the major European countries and provinces of the time. On the other was the Turkish army of Suleiman, large, mobile, well equipped and quick to mount an offensive; apparently lacking nothing needed for conquest. That the Christians were out-numbered is made clear. To the defenders of Malta the loss of any knight was a loss that was difficult if not impossible to replace. Suleiman had numbers on his side and spent freely suffering huge casualties for the time of both his soldiers and slaves. It was all out warfare. Rhodes was strategically important, in part, due to the loss of Constantinople in 1453. However, the loss of Rhodes could not compare to the loss of Malta fifty years later. Without Malta, Italy would become the "front lines" in the battle between Christendom and the door to Europe would be open.
Crowley also does a masterful job by incorporating primary sources where possible. Descriptions by eyewitnesses are scattered throughout the text and add an important element to the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Insightfully written, flowing smoothly from scene to scene, and totally engaging. Just a snippet of the Med. history in the 1500's, but it broadened my "map" immensely.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Richly vivid 16th century mediterranean...
but be prepared....its filled with all the brutal inhumanity of man to man,
for conquest in the name of religion that goes back... Read more
amazing historical detail. Exciting to read. Had trouble putting it down.Published 1 month ago by Sam C Eggertsen
This is the second book I read the first was the Last Great Siege of Constantinople by the same author. It was well written and easy to read unlike many history books. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kenneth John Conway
A thoroughly enjoyable read that combines scholarship with well-paces story telling. Crowley conveys the brutality of the times while relating a multiyear story of characters and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by William Tell
Excellent analysis of the issues between Christianity and Islam dating back to the Middle Ages. This provides an insightful view of how the past provides a window that illuminates... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Timothy Howard
I was looking for a book to learn more about the Ottoman empire and its context in christianity. This book describes that very well, for a christian the battle of Lepanto has had... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Salvador Lee