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The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe | [Andrew Wheatcroft]

The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe

In 1683, an Ottoman army that stretched from horizon to horizon set out to seize the "Golden Apple", as Turks referred to Vienna. The ensuing siege pitted battle-hardened Janissaries wielding 17th-century grenades against Habsburg armies, widely feared for their savagery. The walls of Vienna bristled with guns as the besieging Ottoman host launched bombs, fired cannons, and showered the populace with arrows during the battle for Christianity's bulwark.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1683, an Ottoman army that stretched from horizon to horizon set out to seize the "Golden Apple", as Turks referred to Vienna. The ensuing siege pitted battle-hardened Janissaries wielding 17th-century grenades against Habsburg armies, widely feared for their savagery. The walls of Vienna bristled with guns as the besieging Ottoman host launched bombs, fired cannons, and showered the populace with arrows during the battle for Christianity's bulwark. Each side was sustained by the hatred of its age-old enemy, certain that victory would be won by the grace of God.

The Great Siege of Vienna is the centerpiece for historian Andrew Wheatcroft's richly drawn portrait of the centuries-long rivalry between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires for control of the European continent. A gripping work by a master historian, The Enemy at the Gate offers a timely examination of an epic clash of civilizations.

©2009 Andrew Wheatcroft; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This is not a work of popular history for the casual reader, but scholars and students of history would benefit greatly from this well-researched account of 17th-century Ottoman-Hapsburg political power." (School Library Journal)
"Wheatcroft offers an outstanding blow-by-blow description of the siege, which in the end was decided through a combination of luck and several critical Ottoman blunders." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (209 )
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4.0 (126 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Shaun Apollo, PA, United States 07-28-11
    Shaun Apollo, PA, United States 07-28-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent work"

    1683: The long clash between the Austrian Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire comes to a head outside of Vienna, as the Turks and their allies attempt to capture the city for the second time.

    This book chronicles the events leading up to the bloody confrontation, as well as the details of the campaigns that followed.

    The author lays out the events in an extremely unbias, academic, format and does not "whitewash" any event within. The narrative is excellent, this is easily the best account of this era that I have read.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 02-10-12
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 02-10-12 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Absorbing Clash of Cultures and an Epic Siege"

    I really liked listening to Andrew Wheatcroft???s The Enemy at the Gate, about the long conflict between the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires (and hence between Islam and Christianity and East and West), as read by Stefan Rudnicki (with his warm bass voice, gravitas, and enunciation). Even though I vaguely knew the outcome of big battles like the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 (from other histories and Wheatcroft???s foreshadowing), the events, told so vividly, were suspenseful.

    In the first section of his book, Wheatcroft sets up the historical, political, and cultural background of the siege of Vienna and sketches the personalities and motivations of its key figures. He depicts the siege and its aftermath in the second and third sections. He recounts the errors, prejudices, and admirable points of both Ottoman and Hapsburg cultures and individuals, including frequent atrocities, rare mercies, and inevitable glorifications of their heroes. The details about the changing nature of Ottoman and Hapsburg warfare from the Middle Ages into the 18th century (weapons, artillery, fortifications, tactics, chains of command, supply, morale, and so on) are fascinating (if you like military history). Sipahis and hussars, janissaries and pikemen, pashas and colonels, miners and engineers??? And the etymology of grenade.

    The conflict between the rival cultures who demonized each other and learned from each other sheds light on today???s world. The coda of the book, in which Wheatcroft explains how the biased and distorted visions of the past are still affecting us today (as in the feeling of many Europeans--like Cardinal Ratzinger--that Turkey should be kept out of the EU lest the heroic feats of the defenders of Vienna in 1683 be in vain), is powerful.

    This book would be of most interest to fans of military history, but should also be heard by anyone who wants to know more about how the Eastern Islamic and Western Christian worlds came to feel the way they do about each other today.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard New Haven, CT, United States 04-27-12
    Richard New Haven, CT, United States 04-27-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    3
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    "Text repeated from part 1 to part 2"
    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment, it looks like a substantial portion of the text was lost


    Any additional comments?

    a large section of text from part 1 was repeated in part 2. I have no idea what was missing.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Turramurra, Australia 12-23-11
    Michelle Turramurra, Australia 12-23-11 Member Since 2005
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    "A clash of empires intelligently told"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you're a fan of history this is a compelling tale with larger than life protagonists battling in many cases, literally to the death. The author is to be commended for his excellent research and his ability to make the story so engaging.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 08-22-12
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 08-22-12
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    "Takes a While to Wade In"

    I had several false starts with this book. Another one read by a very deep voice which is not typical and hard to tolerate at first. Powerful and seems to overwhelm the ears, but once I settled in, this was not a distraction and the book is very strong. Probably more depth of knowledge and specificity than most general listeners will want. It is a target audience sort of thing. Not sweeping, it goes into great detail. And that is what I wanted for this period as it intrigued me and I knew little about it. This might be the definitive study of the campaign and era. Loved the stuff about the Scythians. And there is vivid detail on battle: so if you are squeamish then just know heads will roll, but is certainly not a gore-porn book that makes splatter the focus.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. F. Plona Phoenix, AZ 04-17-12
    T. F. Plona Phoenix, AZ 04-17-12 Member Since 2004

    Plimtuna

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    "Interesting tale with a few asides..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Somewhat well spent. I got the feel in the book that the author was a bit over zealous in his effort to try to be balanced in presenting the two combantants as morally equally corrupt. I often would hear additional negative adjectives tied to the armies of the west and less often with the turks. Almost as though he often over compensated.

    The lead up to the battle of Vienna itself was a bit drier than the rest of the book. I considered stopping about 2 hours in. But I held out and enjoyed the rest of the book.


    What about Stefan Rudnicki’s performance did you like?

    Fine even reading, was not a distraction or a highlight.


    Was The Enemy at the Gate worth the listening time?

    ultimately, it was not time wasted. Just not the overwhelming success I have had with other reads (Try Barbara Tuckman!).


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Cockeysville, MD, United States 02-12-11
    Andrew Cockeysville, MD, United States 02-12-11 Member Since 2004
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    "interesting"

    An interesting and comprehensive survey of a little studied portion of history. Excellent reader, highly recommend.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13 Member Since 2009

    Acteon

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    "Puts the 16th century into perspective"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Definitely. The book brings to life the terror of the Ottoman threat in the 16th century and the horrors of war for those who lived through those times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I am both very interested in history and persuaded of its importance to an understanding of the world. On the one hand, we need to understand the conditions and factors that brought about situations and events; on the other, we need to acquire a sense of what it was like to be there.


    What does Stefan Rudnicki bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hearing it made it even more vivid.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Didn't cry but was certainly stirred emotionally.


    Any additional comments?

    Not to be missed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerardo Corregidora, Mexico 01-23-12
    Gerardo Corregidora, Mexico 01-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting piece of history, confusing trend"

    I liked the topic it is an usually overlooked piece of history. However the book is messy. It goes from one war to the previous and then two centuries ahead and then back again. It kind of feels that the author is not an expert on the Ottomans and is very read in the Austrians. The reading is just ok. In general I think that this audiobook did not meet my expectations.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter United States 01-27-12
    Peter United States 01-27-12

    Deafboy

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    "Good reader and nice work."
    What did you like best about The Enemy at the Gate? What did you like least?

    I was really hoping for more detail on overall Ottoman culture. Instead it was a narrative of the battle for Vienna... Which, in fairness, was what it advertised itself to be.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • M. Earwicker
    Vienna, Austria
    5/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Important part of European History"

    This is a reasonably balanced retelling of the last act in Turkish attempts to expand their empire westwards into Christendom. The writer attempts to strike a balance between appreciation of the military expertise of the Turks which, though different, matched that of their Western opponents, while at the same time trying to explain why certain decisions were made which contributed to the victory for the Christians. It was definitely not a war between courageous Christians and savage but cowardly foreigners.

    The reading gets a 4 only because I cannot stand the author saying "4 July" rather than "on the fourth of July" each time a date appears!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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