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The Fall of Constantinople | [Steven Runciman]

The Fall of Constantinople

Few events have riveted the imagination or wrung the heart as did the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. With its passage into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, European history entered a new era and Byzantine Civilization disappeared forever. Although Constantinople had been under constant pressure from Muslim incursions for over seven centuries, its fall came as a bitter shock to the West.
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Publisher's Summary

Few events have riveted the imagination or wrung the heart as did the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. With its passage into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, European history entered a new era and Byzantine Civilization disappeared forever. Although Constantinople had been under constant pressure from Muslim incursions for over seven centuries, its fall came as a bitter shock to the West.

Neglected and mistrusted by Catholic Europe, and absorbed in its own problems, help was too little and too late in coming.When the young Mehmet II became Sultan of the Ottoman Turks in 1451, few expected this quiet young man to be rash enough to disturb the simmering peace which his father had maintained with the Greeks for decades. They were soon to learn otherwise. Though the city was bravely defended by 7,000 soldiers, the odds were hopeless and the outcome increasingly clear to the beleaguered Emperor Constantine XI, who courageously joined the last of the desperate fighting...never to be seen again.

Though Constantinople was gloriously resurrected and had a population 10 times greater within 30 years, its magnificent Byzantine Civilization was over. Its inhabitants came under the yoke of Islam while thousands who could afford to, fled to the West, bringing valuable knowledge which hastened the flowering of the Italian Renaissance. Listen as one of the most poignant stories in European history unfolds.Listeners are encouraged to go online to Wikipedia for maps of the conflict in order to get a grasp of place names.

©1965 Cambridge University; (P)2009 Audio Connoisseur

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  •  
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 07-30-09
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 07-30-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A sad story"

    Although I must admit I do not care much for the narator, (his voice put me to sleep) this short book about the final moment of the Eastern Roman empire is pretty touching. My only objection has been the subject is a little too narrow, it'd have been more interesting if it was about the entire history of the Byzantine, nonetheless, I give it 3.5/5 stars for clarity and pathos.

    The Turks come out of this book pretty barbaric, it should be born in mind that this was an era where witches and heretics were burning on the stake, so while we admire the roman heroism, try not to let cultural prejudices cloud our eyes.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen BROOKLINE, MA, United States 05-22-12
    Helen BROOKLINE, MA, United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Oh, dear."

    This book really has no audience. I am familiar with Runciman as a historian - although a respected scholar of the medieval Mediterranean, his writing style is turgid. I had to start over the first three chapters three times each because I kept falling asleep, and I was listening to the book for a specific academic purpose!

    The only chapters that actually captured the imagination were the central ones, in which he narrates the actual fall of the city. The chapters leading up to 1453 and those describing the aftermath could only be interesting to an academic or someone truly passionate about the topic.

    Charleton Griffin's narration was abysmal - pompous and annoyingly "Oxford don" - yet he did not take the time to learn to pronounce Turkish and regularly mispronounced Italian words and names as well. There is no excuse for this.

    The book, to which I wanted to listen because of my own 30-month sojourn in Istanbul and also because I wanted to use it for a course I am teaching this fall, was an extreme disappointment. It certainly would not entertain the average reader, regardless of his or her educational background.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darrin B. Roush Austin, TX USA 04-29-12
    Darrin B. Roush Austin, TX USA 04-29-12 Member Since 2002

    Diverse Reader

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    "Riveting"
    What did you love best about The Fall of Constantinople?

    An exciting and factual story about little known history


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No one character; as history, especially one that describes an event with virtually innumerable important people, it's hard to like just one "character". The emperor, Mehmet the Conqueror, the Genoese, the Venetians...they all, in their own way win your admiration.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The actual siege and who they held out against so many odds with so few defenders.


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

    No extreme reaction, but it made me sad and gave me grade admiration for such heroic people.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary CONYERS, GA, United States 04-18-12
    Mary CONYERS, GA, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2008
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    16
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    "I didn't finsh it"
    What would have made The Fall of Constantinople better?

    I chose this book because I usually like both history and historical fiction, but this book included so many dry parts that I lost interest and stopped listening.


    What could Steven Runciman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I'm not sure that Runciman could have changed the facts of history. But, either they were written in too much of a textbook voice, or the narrator presented the book as if droning from a textbook.


    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Stewart Gibson
    South Africa
    7/3/12
    Overall
    "Not an easy listen"

    For an armchair historian this is not an easy listen. Way too many names. Often lost the thread. I did not finish this listen and am on the lookout for something else

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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