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Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453

Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 [Kindle Edition]

Roger Crowley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A beautifully constructed story of mischance, mistake and massacre. -- BBC History Magazine

A powerful telling of an extraordinary story, presented with a clarity and a confidence that most academic historians would envy. -- Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

Engagingly fresh and vivid. -- Malise Ruthven, Sunday Times

Narrative history at its most enthralling. -- Christopher Silvester, Daily Express

Book Description

Constantinople is narrative history at its very best: an intense, extraordinary tale of courage and cruelty, technological ingenuity, endurance and luck.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3003 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction (6 Aug 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030UDWDY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,456 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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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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24 of 25 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fall of Constantinople 3 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Crowley's history of the fall of Constantinople is gripping and moving, written with great panache and thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great! 14 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read Crowley's other books (Empires of the Sea and City of Fortune) my expectations were sky-high so I should have been in for a disappointment. Not so. There is absolutely nothing not to like about Crowley's style. Like the other ones, 'the last great siege' is simply unputdownable. Let's hope Crowley is diligently working on another epic tale...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 1 minute 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 4 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 4 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 6 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 8 months ago by K. Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness we are in the 21st Cent
He is such a great story teller of the facts. Written in a way that was not too dry as some non fiction books can be. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Carole Willatt
5.0 out of 5 stars "I know the day is coming when sacred Ilium will fall..."
Got it just before my arrival in Istanbul. this is an incredible read, Crowley writes like a modern Homer as he recounts the final days of the Byzantine empire. Read more
Published 10 months ago by john
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