In 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim "the Grim" conquered Egypt and brought his empire for the first time in history into direct contact with the trading world of the Indian Ocean. During the decades that followed, the Ottomans became progressively more engaged in the affairs of this vast and previously unfamiliar region, eventually to the point of launching a systematic ideological, military and commercial challenge to the Portuguese Empire, their main rival for control of the lucrative trade routes of maritime Asia.
The Ottoman Age of Exploration is the first comprehensive historical account of this century-long struggle for global dominance, a struggle that raged from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Malacca, and from the interior of Africa to the steppes of Central Asia.
Based on extensive research in the archives of Turkey and Portugal, as well as materials written on three continents and in a half dozen languages, it presents an unprecedented picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state during the 16th century. It does so through a dramatic recounting of the lives of sultans and viziers, spies, corsairs, soldiers-of-fortune, and women from the imperial harem. Challenging traditional narratives of Western dominance, it argues that the Ottomans were not only active participants in the Age of Exploration, but ultimately bested the Portuguese in the game of global politics by using sea power, dynastic prestige, and commercial savoir faire to create their own imperial dominion throughout the Indian Ocean.
©2010 Giancarlo Casale (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
This book gives a fascinating account of the Ottoman political maneuvers in the 16th century Indian Ocean. It gave me a new perspective on events as diverse as the rise of Emperor Akbar in India and the sinking of the Spanish Armada. It's piqued my interest in Yemen and Gujarat in particular.
If you are not familiar with the geography of the Indian Ocean, you will probably end up like me, poring over maps for hours after listening. My own ignorance of the region and of Ottoman history made this book more challenging to listen to than most of the audiobooks I have finished. I had to rewind and relisten to many parts in order to make sure I understood just what the sequence of events was.
Overall I enjoyed it very much. I have given it 3 stars for story just because it is not a breezy listen the way some books are.
Historian with a specialized interest in 16th century Indian Ocean conflicts. Or someone who was planning to tour the old port cities: Diu, Gujarat, Hormuz, etc. The book is not so much about exploration, as it is about military struggles between Portugal and the Ottomans over control of port cities on the Indian Ocean trade routes. Better to get a book or ebook version, so you can easily skip ahead through the long narratives of military campaigns–unless of course that's your thing. Rather light on social and cultural history, heavy on military, diplomatic. This may reflect the available sources.
Not in audio format.
By rolling every foreign word around in his mouth as if it were an olive from which he was trying to extract the pit.
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