Empires of the Sea shows the Mediterranean as a majestic and bloody theatre of war. Opening with the Ottoman victory in 1453 it is a breathtaking story of military crusading, Barbary pirates, white slavery and the Ottoman Empire and the larger picture of the struggle between Islam and Christianity. Coupled with dramatic set piece battles, a wealth of riveting first-hand accounts, epic momentum and a terrific denouement at Lepanto, this is a work of history at its broadest and most compelling.


There are those among the hawks who will see American troops march into Baghdad, topple a statue of the current tyrant and then fly out to an aircraft carrier and stand under a “Mission Accomplished” banner. There are those among the doves who believe that if we bestow the blessings of liberty upon the people and shower them with our largesse – and for the truly craven beg their forgiveness for everything from the lack of rain in the desert forward – that we will be loved because we are “good people”

Both camps are full of fools. Unfortunately the east knows that the West’s stomach for war is weak. A few weeks, a few months or even a few years and we are unwilling to bear the costs of our own defense. Five centuries ago Islam attempted to conquer the West – it was not a campaign of a single battle but a war that lasted for three generations – and the West finally prevailed, well more like a stalemate, because they were willing to bear the cost of the battle.

We do not pretend that they were like the Crusaders marching under a banner of DEUS LE VOLT, they were merchant princes for the most part trying to defend their commerce, but they were also men of Faith who knew that surrender was tantamount to voluntary slavery. Today a weary West marches slowly toward that same slavery all boldness drained from our blood with a fool’s confidence in a sword we no longer have the strength to wield.

In the 1960’s it was said that an optimist learned Russian and a pessimist Chinese – Crowley makes a compelling case to either study arabic or learn anew the price of freedom.

Empires of the sea : the final battle for the Mediterranean 1521-1580    London : Faber and Faber, 2008 Roger Crowley Venice (Italy)  History  Turkish Wars, 1453-1571 Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. ix, 341 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1521, Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power, dispatched an invasion fleet to the island of Rhodes. This was the opening shot in an epic struggle between rival empires and faiths, and the ensuing battle for control of the Mediterranean would last sixty years.

Empires of the Sea tells the story of this great contest. It is a tale of spiralling intensity that ranges from Istanbul to the Gates of Gibraltar and features a cast of  characters including: Barbarossa, the pirate who terrified Europe; the risk-taking Emperor Charles V; the Knights of St John, last survivors of the crusading spirit; and the brilliant Christian admiral Don Juan of Austria. Its brutal climax came between 1565 and 1571, six years that witnessed a fight to the finish, decided in a series of bloody set pieces: the epic siege of Malta; the battle for Cyprus; and the apocalyptic last-ditch defense of southern Europe at Lepanto – one of the single most shocking days in world history that fixed the frontiers of the Mediterranean world we know today.

Empires of the Sea follows Roger Crowley’s first book, the widely praised Constantinople: The Last Great Siege. It is page-turning narrative history at its best – a story of extraordinary color and incident, rich in detail, full of surprises and backed by a wealth of eyewitness accounts.

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