We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World | [Roger Crowley]

Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World

Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.
Regular Price:$24.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent - the legendary ruler of the Ottoman Empire - through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

The core of the story is the six years of bitter and bloody conflict between 1565 and 1571 that witnessed a fight to the finish. It was a tipping point in world civilization, a fast-paced struggle of spiraling intensity that led from the siege of Malta and the battle for Cyprus to the pope's last-gasp attempt to rekindle the spirit of the Crusades and the apocalypse at Lepanto.

It features a rich cast of characters: Suleiman the Magnificent, greatest of Ottoman sultans; Hayrettin Barbarossa, the pirate who terrified Europe; the Knights of St. John, last survivors of the medieval crusading spirit; the aged visionary Pope Pius V; and the meteoric, brilliant Christian general, Don John of Austria.

It is also a narrative about places: the shores of the Bosphorus, the palaces and shipyards of the Venetian lagoon, the barren rocks of Malta, the islands of Greece, the slave markets of Algiers - and the character of the sea itself, with its complex pattern of winds and weather, which provided the conditions and the field of battle. It involves all the peoples who border the Great Sea: Italians, Turks, Greeks, Spaniards, the French and the people of North Africa.

This story is one of extraordinary color and incident, rich in detail, full of surprises, and backed by a wealth of eyewitness accounts. Its denouement, the battle of Lepanto, is a single action of quite shocking impact - considered at the time in Christian Europe to be "a day to end all days".

©2008 Roger Crowley; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A masterly narrative that captures the religious fervor, brutality, and mayhem of this intensive contest for the 'center of the world'." (Kirkus)
"Masterfully synthesizing primary and secondary sources, [Crowley] vividly reconstructs the great battles...and introduces the larger-than-life personalities that dominated council chambers and fields of battle." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (404 )
5 star
 (196)
4 star
 (142)
3 star
 (50)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (6)
Overall
4.4 (220 )
5 star
 (115)
4 star
 (81)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.5 (219 )
5 star
 (123)
4 star
 (76)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  • Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Historical non-fiction at its best!"
    Any additional comments?

    The centuries-long conflict between East and West, Muslim and Christian, comes to a head in the Sixteenth century Mediterranean Sea. Crowley details the fascinating rivalry between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. Their greatest victories, their most ignominious defeats, and everything in between are brought up at one point or another.

    The Great Siege of Malta, as reviewers all over the place say, is a point in time that begs to be adapted by any entertainment medium. Somewhere around 7,000 Christians made a heroic stand against upwards of three times their number in the great fortress-island of Malta. Led by Grandmaster Jean de Valette of the Knights Hospitaller, the very citizens themselves put forth the most effort, according to Crowley, in defense of their home and hearth. Crowley definitely stresses Philip II of Spain's epithet: the Prudent, in relation to the great siege. The course of history has proven that Christendom is utterly incapable of uniting for a common cause, and it's fascinating to see how down to the wire the siege was due to Philip's extreme cautiousness.

    Andrea Vicentino’s 1603 painting in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice depicts the sea of blood and corpses, the cluster of galleys.

    The Holy League, vigorously promoted by Pope Pius V, in the spirit of "united" Christendom, which took ages to even have the various Christian rulers assent to involvement, finally took to the sea at the Battle of Lepanto is the culmination of the period, where the Christian fleet shattered the larger Ottoman navy in a battle of nearly 500 ships. The young Ritter Johann von Österreich, commonly known as Don Juan of Austria, just 24 at the time, led the massive coalition fleet that included Miguel de Cervantes to the great battle against Ali Pasha, the Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy, and very much a mirror image of Juan himself. Juan's leadership inspired G.K. Chesterton's 1911 poem, named after the eponymous battle.

    Crowley lays out a detailed (surprising for its length) narration and analysis of the Mediterranean between the Siege of Rhodes in 1522 and Lepanto in 1571 - not particularly favoring one side or the other, though it is difficult as a reader not to feel some sort of good at sieges where the defenders are hugely outnumbered. The narration itself is bloody and the bodies pile up in masses, turning the very sea that the galleys slice through crimson.

    This is historical non-fiction at its best, with a strong, flowing narrative style that brings the characters of both sides back to life in a readable amount of pages (though I listened to the audiobook), complete with stats and strategies for military history buffs all the while remaining exciting as hell to read. Empires of the Sea only scratches the surface of the nearly three hundred year conflict.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 12-30-14
    Scott 12-30-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History that must be known."

    Names and places enter the story and leave quickly. Losing context and your place in the story is common with little distractions. While it's a big commitment, I will probably listen to the story again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mato Sappa Fennville, Michigan USA 12-04-14
    Mato Sappa Fennville, Michigan USA 12-04-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great story but struggled with the narrating"
    Would you listen to Empires of the Sea again? Why?

    I had a very difficult time with the narrator changing his voice to sound like a child's voice. I'd much prefer if he'd simply read it in his natural voice. I'm an adult and don't need to be read to like one would to a little kid. The change of voice was very distracting and sounded silly.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    by changing his voice to that of a young child


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Toney, AL United States 06-18-14
    Mark Toney, AL United States 06-18-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    154
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    339
    80
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exceptionally Good Book"

    Empires of the Sea is an excellent book, well worth the credit. I found it to be interesting, informative and well written. I had no idea of the magnitude of the slave trade that was perpetuated by the Ottomans and the Barbary Corsairs from their raids of Italy and Spain. Entire populations on some islands and towns were captured and taken away into slavery. The book is actually very suspenseful as it goes into very detailed descriptions of people and soldiers undergoing a siege. The leadership of the defenders at Malta was another aspect that I found to be incredible.

    I also found it interesting that the author suggests that economic impacts from gold and silver discoveries in the New World may have been one of the greatest factors in the decline of the Ottoman war machine.

    Narration was top notch.

    If you enjoy European history you will enjoy this book. I would also recommend the great siege by Ernie Bradford as a complementary book to this one

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scot Bloomfield Hills, MI 06-12-14
    Scot Bloomfield Hills, MI 06-12-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Great Book"

    I just finished another Roger Crowley book on Venice and it reminded me of how good 'Empires of the Sea' was as well. I love history and both books were exactly the right depth of factual detail interwoven with personal insights that make the listen as enjoyable as watching a your favorite movie. I could not give higher praise than I would give this book. If you have an interest in history I would almost guarantee that you would find this book a keeper.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13

    Acteon

    HELPFUL VOTES
    104
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    213
    91
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Better than a movie"
    If you could sum up Empires of the Sea in three words, what would they be?

    Gives a real sense of what the Mediterranean was like in the 15th-16th century for those who had to live on its shores. As well as its significance.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The defense of Malta


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I don't know what a good tag line might be, but I would certainly dedicate it to the countless thousands who had to sacrifice their life futilely on that sea.


    Any additional comments?

    Not to be missed by anyone interested in history.

































    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JohnWells 08-14-13
    JohnWells 08-14-13 Member Since 2013

    JohnWells

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Book"
    What made the experience of listening to Empires of the Sea the most enjoyable?

    The book was written well and the writer has a excellent grasp of history.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    King Philip.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not but he was quite good.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The siege of Malta.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jon Meridian, ID, United States 06-18-13
    jon Meridian, ID, United States 06-18-13 Member Since 2011

    History enthusiast with military and legal background.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    114
    48
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting, but could have been much shorter"
    Where does Empires of the Sea rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a middle of the pack book. The trouble with military history in audio format is that you zoom past the large number of places names and dates. Its hard to keep it all straight. It was interesting, and I knew next to nothing about this period in history, so I am glad I got it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 06-28-12
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 06-28-12 Member Since 2013

    I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    176
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    137
    84
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lots of people tried to kill each other"

    Lots of people tried to kill each other in brutal ways. There, you know all you need to know and now you don't have to download this book.

    It was painful to listen to, like being killed with a ball of metal shot that soared through the air, ripping into my flesh and tearing out my organs which lay oozing blood in the street. There, now you know what the writing is like and you don't need to download this book.

    What, are you still interested? Fine, maybe you like blood and gore more than I do. Maybe you actually are interested in the details of each and every tedious, repetitive battle. I'd rather read history, political maneuvering, biographical information about the leaders, cultural information about the fighters or the countries doing battle. You don't get that in this book. You get tedious, repetitive descriptions of battle interspersed with itty bitty bits of historical information or information about the reasons for the long, deadly, bloody, horrible, sickening battles.

    The narrator was fine, given the crappy material he was reading.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.