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
"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)
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.
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.
The defense of Malta
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.
Not to be missed by anyone interested in history.
The book was written well and the writer has a excellent grasp of history.
I have not but he was quite good.
The siege of Malta.
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.
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.
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.
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