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1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West [Hardcover]

Roger Crowley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 4.6 out of 5 stars (48)
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Book Description

10 Aug 2005
Now in trade paperback, 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 readable 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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books; First Edition First Printing edition (10 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401301916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301910
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,641,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roger Crowley read English at Cambridge before going to live in Istanbul. His particular interests are the Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, seafaring, and eyewitness history. He is the author of three books on the empires of the Mediterranean and its surroundings: Constantinople: the last great siege(2005), Empires of the Sea (2008) and City of Fortune: How Venice won and lost a naval empire(2011). His website address is, where he blogs about history.

Product Description

About the Author

Roger Crowley works in publishing in England. A former teacher, he has lived and worked in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), and now resides in Cheltenham, England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tale rendered brilliantly 23 Feb 2007
Loads of high-profile historical books are praised to the rafters these days, and yet when you read them you often find that the writer has not fully got to grips with the subject matter, and you end up absorbing little real knowledge or deriving much entertainment.

This book is an exception. Lucid, exciting and thoroughly entertaining, this is one of the best I've ever read.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is history really meant to be this gripping? 7 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As mentioned elsewhere, this reads almost like fiction ... except it's real, painstakingly sifted and pieced together from a multitude of sources on both sides. The picture that emerges is more complex than I expected; it's about far more than Sultan Mehmet turning up with his huge army and battering the walls down with his great siege guns. Just as important to the outcome was the machinations going on behind those walls and in Christendom as a whole; this is a story of divine portents and tragic schism; of Christians taken and converted (or not) to fight their erstwhile brethren; of commercial greed and rivalry that sometimes took precedence over shared faith, culture, and strategic interests.

Most poignantly, it's the story of a doomed emperor standing with his allies and subjects against overwhelming odds, determined not to be the one to surrender a heritage of 1000+ years and the last living link to antiquity.

The author brings out several turning points where things could have gone differently, that make you wonder "what if?" ... but even as you do so, you realise -- because of the broader picture that he paints -- that even if Constantinople had survived this particular siege (as it had so many before) its ultimate fall was inevitable.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars what a story-should be a film!! 4 Sep 2009
I read this book as preparation for a trip to Istanbul. We arrived at a small hotel a hundred yards (if that) from Hagia Sophia. Whilst there I read the book again. What gripped me was the ploy and counter ploy of the Ottomans and Byzantines. The desperation and bravery of the beseiged and how so very close they came to resisting for a little longer the Ottoman conquest. I was thrilled, moved to tears and totally captivated by a story whose ending I already knew (I had read J J Norwich's trilogy). To be 'on the spot' added a depth of poignancy and some sadness to the visit. I would recommend this book as a fantastic read.......and then visit Istanbul and go to the land walls ...I defy you not to be moved!!!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and Entertaining 11 Dec 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you have had the pleasure of reading John Julius Norwich's outstanding trilogy on the Byzantine empire then you will know that it comes to an end in May 1453. This book focuses on that fateful day telling the story in an entertaining and absorbing manner. If you are a student of history or just and interested amateur like myself you will find this book excellent, I would recommend reading it along with Runciman's the Fall of Constantinople for a comprehensive overview of this climactic event in world history.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Constantinople fallen or Istambul conquered? 11 Jan 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The fall of Constantinople (or the taking of Istanbul depending on your own perspective), was one of the defining moments for both Christendom and the Islamic caliphate. In 1453 the last bastion of the eastern Roman Empire fell to the onslaught of an organised and effective Ottoman campaign. It is a subject around which there is much debate, and obviously incredibly topical given the global conflict between the nominally Christian west and the more devoutly Islamic world. Turkish aspirations for EU membership also place the city’s fall in a more contemporary political context. Finally the Balkan tinderbox which had produced countless internal conflicts, national wars and even one World War, became so fragmented and mixed due to initial Ottoman successes in the region.
But all of these things are centuries away from the concerns of this book. Roger Crowley has focused this narrative history entirely on the campaign for the city undertaken by Mehmet against the now shrunken remnants of the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the glories of Rome. The text explains in clear, lucid terms the background, but is a perfect introduction to the subject by not over-elaborating on the intricate details of past Byzantine-Ottoman conflicts and diplomacy. Instead a broader picture is painted, taking in the treachery of the Italian city states, the precarious position of truncated Byzantium, the desperate attempts to reach a compromise over the Orthodox/Catholic differences in doctrine and the increasing power of the Ottoman state.
By the year 1453 it is clear that the city of Constantinople, the inheritor of Rome and the centre of the Eastern orthodox world is a shadow of its former glorious past.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and gripping 10 Jan 2007
I really enjoyed this book. The style is scholarly and it is very well researched but still accesible and easy to read.

The author gives a powerful account of a terrible and brutal siege where the defenders of the city of Constantinople defend themselves against a huge attacking force sent by the Ottoman sultan. Atrocities are committed by both sides. The defenders are heavily outnumbered, largely abandoned by the Christian world and under constant bombardment from the Ottoman cannon. Eventually the walls that have protected the city for hundreds of years are breached and the city falls.

The book is very well written and the author builds up the drama and tension of the siege very well. The fall of Constantinople is shown as a traumatic event for Christian Europe although the author suggests at the end that maybe life under the Ottoman rule was not all bad !
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Captivating but not scholarly convincing
This book is a follow-up of an earlier book by Crowley, 1453, which taking a religious stance with christendom and with christian political rhetoric which consider the turkish... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Gustaf
5.0 out of 5 stars Acquire this book to start your interest in Constantinople 1453
I'm more than content to add another 5-star review to the list. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish from the moment I picked it up. Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. A. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to the siege
I brought the book after reading a historical fiction novel on the siege. Roger Crowley detailed explanation is a good introduction to the siege and the significance of the fall on... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant account of the siege
Having recently visited Istanbul I was recommended this book to read about the Otterman siege of Christian Constantinople. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MR JOHN KING
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
Essential research for any visitor to modern Istanbul in search of its Roman heritage. An excellent first from Roger Crowley.
Published 7 months ago by MIKE KEMSLEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, fanatstic.
I already knew about the fall and most of the facts about what happened over the whole event, but this is something else; as someone else said if this were ever a film - wow. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Rich80
5.0 out of 5 stars Constantinople The Last Seige
Excellent book full of concise details and facts about the siege. I will read again when I go to Istanbul this year and visit some of the sights where battles occurred.
Published 9 months ago by Diane
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
Roger Crowley is a very good author and had me on the edge of my seat as the siege progressed.

Very well written, he makes history come alive.
Published 10 months ago by John R Mason
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional narrative
This book is truly an enlightened narrative of the siege of 1453 and of the events that preceded it. It reads more like a novel than like a history. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Haruspex 5
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, wonderfully written account of the collapse and rebirth...
Roger Crowley is now officially one of my favourite writers. Not only does he have quotes from plenty of contemporary sources, he writes such beautiful descriptions as this:... Read more
Published 11 months ago by K. Campbell
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