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Publisher's Summary

Now in audiobook format, a gripping exploration of the fall of Constantinople and its connection to the world we live in today.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 signaled a shift in history and the end of the Byzantium Empire. Roger Crowley's listenable and comprehensive account of the battle between Mehmed II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and Constantine XI, the 57th emperor of Byzantium, illuminates the period in history that was a precursor to the current jihad between the West and the Middle East.

©2016 Crowley (P)2016 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

Roger Crowley is a master storyteller, and Simon Prebble gives a wonderful reading of this epic account of the siege of Constantinople. Crowley's book conveys the grand sweep of events while including the kind of detail that makes the story vivid and memorable. For Mehmed II, it was a stunning victory; for Constantine XI, death and disappearance from history. (His body was never recovered from the carnage of the last assault.) I could almost feel the impact of the gigantic stone cannonballs as they pounded the ancient wall that protected the city.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A Very Well Done (Read & Written) Book!

I purchased this book and enjoyed it (the written version and the read), and it lends itself as a well written historic novel. Two thumbs up!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 09-14-16

The Wall, The Gun, and Honor

What an inspiring story. The characters on both side of the conflict are amazing. I'd rank this story of the last battle for Constantinople with the Greeks at Thermopylae, or the Texans at the Alamo. The greatness that lies within us may seem dormant at times, but we are all capable of rising to the occasion and this story tells just one of those stories from the pantheon of history.

I love getting peaks into non-Western history. Their stories and their lessons on how to live the best life are worth learning about. I just wish there were more books that would tell them. (This book should be made into a movie).

When you lose faith in humanity and start to think we are not really worth the trouble anymore, I would suggest reading a story like this one. The bravery, the gallantry, the sacrifices that were made by the characters within this story are awe inspiring. The twelve Greek sailors who sneaked out under the cover of darkness to discover if there were any reinforcements on their way, and then they took a vote to return to the doomed city because that's what there honor demanded even though they knew it means with near certainty their own death. What a story! There are many stories like that one told and more just as thrilling and inspiring.

The author does well. He gives the listener the historical context in the first 50 pages, but the heart of the story are the day to day chronicles of the battle, and with as much detail as a WW II book would give for the battle of Stalingrad, say.

Unless you've read this book, you probably would have naively believed that the long cannon had made all of the difference in the battle. You would have been wrong. There are many moving pieces and as with almost all of history it is never just one thing because 'ceteris paribus' (with all other conditions being the same) is always false because the world is not static but always dynamic.

Every thing that's been in the "Game of Thrones" seems to be in this story. The Wall, the Guns, Honor and Hodor ('hold the door") are in this story, but all the stories in this book are true and even more unbelievable!

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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surprisingly far-reaching

though this event in history interests me very much, I was wondering how an audiobook about 1453 would keep my attention. It did so fabulously by taking a new angle each chapter... one time discussing the Ottoman motivation, the next taking the Byzantine position. Each time, the author jumps back in history to give a better context.

By crisscrossing accross West and East, without the book losing its coherence, you'll get a taste for the whole of Byzantine and Ottoman history. The narrator tells the developments with a sense of gravity for the inevitable fate of Constantnople.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Arcadia
  • CHERRY HILL, NJ, United States
  • 09-19-16

Byzantium in its last days

The book is quite good. I would like to see another one on the sacking of Constantinople in 1204.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Fine Telling of Sad, Sad Story

This book provides enough background for the reader to understand the final siege of Constantinople in it context, and then a clear and involving narrative of the event. The reader is ideal, neither dry nor melodramatic, but always clear and forceful.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Vance
  • imperial, CA, United States
  • 09-23-16

Solid 5 Star History

Don't hesitate. You will love this book. It is well written and the reader does an awesome job. My favorite parts were the descriptions of the siege cannon and the up to 1,500 pound stone balls they could hurl at the Constantinople city walls. I also was surprised to learn that Istanbul, Turkey is actually the old City of Constantinople. You might also call this book "the last great siege" because that is essentially what it describes. The cannon pretty much put an end to siege warfare because no walls were too strong or too tall to bring down. Wars were fought differently after this great battle took place.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Great performance

I very much enjoyed this performance from Simon Prebble. Like his book on Venice, Crowley prefers to lean heavily on quoting the primary sources directly, but unlike his book on Venice he takes the time to tell us the current prevailing opinions on the veracity of their stories. He also really seems to enjoy describing everyone’s equipment manifest and preparation routines in minute detail. In this book he uses this preoccupation to really make you feel the images, putting you on the ground with the figures who lived the siege. Overall, I much preferred this book to his book on Venice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A well written narrative with bizarre and biased commentary

This is a well told story recounting the history of the fall of Byzantium. However, the author repeatedly goes out of his way to apologize for the barbarity of Mehmet and the Turks and to downplay the fact that the Turks were literally coveting and hell bent on sacking and corrupting a city that was founded and built by the work of another culture. In their actions you can see the root of the Taliban that would purposefully destroy a millennia old Buddhist colossus.

Several examples of this western self-loathing in Crowley's writing stood out. On one occasion during the siege Mehmet captured 40 sailors and had them impaled on stakes inserted through their rectums driven through their vital organs with hammers and planted before the walls. Crowley at this point feels compelled to tell us that Vlad Dracula also impaled people inferring some sort of relativism and providing no context aside from attempting to excuse or lessen the barbarity of the act by mehmet. He points his finger accusingly at the west for the sack of Constantinople during the 4th crusade but it isn't until the last fraction of the book that we're told of the Massacre of the Latin's which took place only 20 some odd years earlier and at the point we're told it is only used as a tool to once again offset the barbarity of the jihadists. Crowley calls the massacre a "xenophobic" attack as he's implying the multicultural tolerance of the Islamic butchers. The massacre was rooted in economics and had nothing to do with xenophobia.

There's a perverse celebration of the extermination of Byzantine culture that permeates his writing.

Crowley repeatedly calls Mehmet's Constantinople "astonishingly" multicultural. Within his commentary he ignores the nature of the janissaries, the use of foreigners and Christians as cannon fodder in the Islamic armies and the second class status they held.

After the general slaughter and rape of Christians we're expected to believe that somehow walling people off in ethnic ghettos with mandated uniforms is "astonishingly multicultural" and should be lauded.

The commentary practically ignores the slavery and segregation foisted on the Greeks in their own city and in a final fit of absurdity suggests the Turkish conquest "rescued" the city.

It wasn't theirs. They plundered, murdered, enslaved and desecrated. I have a hard time reconciling this commentary with contemporary views on the nature of culture and native rights.

Islam is still retarding large swaths of the world and it still poses a threat to the West. Celebrating the fall of the Eastern bulwark falls into the passé exercise of contemporary self-loathing. A malaise Western academics and elitists find themselves mired in.

24 of 37 people found this review helpful

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Highly recommended

This was an excellent book that really offers a glimpse into the conflict between the east and the west. The narrator does an excellent job and the story is suspenseful and well written

4 of 6 people found this review helpful