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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two kinds of Terrorist
On 13 February 1472 a Sicilian 'terrorist' called Antonello, acting in the Venetian interest, landed at Gallipoli, then the site of the Turkish arsenal, and managed to burn it to the ground. Arrested and brought before Sultan Mehmet, Antonello denied the involvement of the Venetians, and said that 'the sultan was the plague of the world, that he had plundered all his...
Published on 5 May 2010 by Roderick Blyth

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mehmet
Somewhat in line with Mehmet's life, of which about three quarters was spent campaigning, this book is mainly about his endless campaigns, from Albania to Anatolia and from Hungary to Greece.
The first part, about the rise of the Ottomans and the siege of Constantinople is quite good (although not nearly as good as Crowley's Siege of Constantinople); I also liked the...
Published 13 months ago by M. Baerends


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mehmet, 4 Jun 2013
By 
M. Baerends - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
Somewhat in line with Mehmet's life, of which about three quarters was spent campaigning, this book is mainly about his endless campaigns, from Albania to Anatolia and from Hungary to Greece.
The first part, about the rise of the Ottomans and the siege of Constantinople is quite good (although not nearly as good as Crowley's Siege of Constantinople); I also liked the final part where the Turks are actually entering Italy (you could see burning villages from the Campanile in Venice, and a Turkish invasion force briefly occupied some of the 'heel' of Italy at Otranto) & are only evicted because of a very unusual moment of christian solidarity and the death of Mehmet himself (again, the last part of Crowley's book about Venice which covers the same episode is better).
Most of the stuff in between is actually very repetitive, one siege after the next battle all against warlords that are forgotten & in places nobody has ever heard off. Then again, this was what Mehmet's life was all about. What kind of person he really was is probably not knowable given the scarcity of reliable sources. To conclude, on the plus side this book is pretty thorough (you do need your own atlas to follow the campaigns though) but the writing is unfortunately not the bestest ever.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 July 2010
This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
Whilst this is a thorough and sweeping history of Sultan Mehmet and his heirs, I must say I came away disappointed. The author rushes through the first twenty years of Mehmet's life in very little time whilst devoting a great deal of the book to events after his death. I wanted to learn more about what made him tick, the upbringing and influences that shaped him. Roger Crowley's history of the Fall of Constantinople, "The Last Siege", did far more in this regard.

Much of "The Grand Turk" is given to rather dry listings of actions and conquests carried out in the Balkans and Anatolia and I never felt the author spent enough time on the characters and people surrounding Mehmet- for example Mara Brankovic gets little mention despite her importance in Mehmet's life.

All in all the book does a solid job in laying out the historical events of the Ottoman period but given its title and supposed focus on Sultan Mehmet, I was disappointed that the analysis of the man was little more than skin-deep.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two kinds of Terrorist, 5 May 2010
By 
Roderick Blyth (Oxfordshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
On 13 February 1472 a Sicilian 'terrorist' called Antonello, acting in the Venetian interest, landed at Gallipoli, then the site of the Turkish arsenal, and managed to burn it to the ground. Arrested and brought before Sultan Mehmet, Antonello denied the involvement of the Venetians, and said that 'the sultan was the plague of the world, that he had plundered all his neighbour princes, that he had kept faith with no one, and that he was trying to eradicate the name of Christ. And that was why he, Antonello, had taken it into his head to do what he had done... [Sultan Mehmet] listened to him with great patience and admiration: then he gave orders that he and his companions should be beheaded.'

Those reading John Freely's lively biography may well end up concluding that Antonello's summary of the man whom those in the West knew as the Grand Turk was pretty accurate. When Mehmet became Sultan in February 1451 at the age of 18, one of the first things he did was to visit his father's harem where he engaged the mother of his two year old half brother in polite conversation whilst his men strangled the latter in his bath, justifying this by precedent, and thereafter enacting that 'to whomsoever of my sons the sultanate shall pass, it is fitting that, for the order of the world that he shall kill his brothers. Most of the ulema allow it. So let them act on this.' Two years later, Mehmet took Constantinople, and extinguished the dying embers of the Byzantine Empire: 'The Sultan entered the City and looked about to see its great size, its situation, its grandeur and beauty, its teeming population, its loveliness, and the costliness of its churches and public buildings; and when he saw what a large number of people had been killed, and the wreckage of the buildings, and the wholesale ruin and desolation of the City, he was filled with compassion and repented not a little of the destruction and the plundering: tears fell from his eyes as he groaned deeply and passionately: 'What a city we have given over to plunder and destruction.' The following 25 years was an almost unbroken history of warfare in which Mehmet carried moslem arms as far west as Vienna, the Friuli, and Otranto, narrowly failing to capture Rhodes (a distinction that would fall to his great grandson, Suleiman the Magnificent). Everywhere he went there was fire, demolition, rape, murder, pillaging, beheadings, impalings, enslavement, and the transportation and resettlment elsewhere of the populations of whole towns and districts. The divided western powers looked on, trembled, wrung their hands, talked about crusades and stabbed one another in the back.

It is remarkably difficult to form a personal impression of anyone who lived in the ages that preceded general literacy, but Mehmet's ambition, energy and cruelty shine through. Kritoboulos of Imbros, who knew Mehmet, and was in his service, wrote 'when he became heir to a great realm and master of many soldiers and enlisted men, and had under his power already the largest and best parts of both Asia and Europe, he did not believe that these were enough for him nor was he content with what he had: instead he immediately overran the whole whole world in his calculations and resolved to rule it in emulation of the Alexanders and Pompeys and Caesars and kings and generals of that sort.' A venetian emissary to Istanbul confirms this account: 'Mehmet's appearance,' he wrote, 'inspires fear rather than respect... He aspires to equal the glory of Alexander the Great, and every day has histories of Rome and other nations read to him... There is nothing which he studies with greater pleasure and eagerness than the geography of the world, and the art of warfare; he burns with the desire to rule, while being prudent in his investigation of what he undertakes.' Mehmet's own son and succesor, Beyazit II, was heard to say that 'his father was domineering and did not believe in the Prophet Mohammed'.

This is a well researched and pretty readable biography - the qualification stems from the short, repetitive, but nevertheless intricate summaries of occasionally inconclusive campaigns and court politics. John Freely has lived and worked in Istanbul for at least 40 years, and is the author of the best guide to the City - entitled 'Strolling through Istanbul' when I first bought my copy in 1973. Claims that the book supersedes Franz Babinger's 'Mehmet the Conqueror and his Time' are absurd, but for the general reader this is probably the book to read. The opening and penultimate chapters contain potted accounts of the Ottoman dynasty pre- and post-Mehmet, and passages in the final chapter, which deals with the monuments of Mehmet's period, are lifted almost verbatim from the guide book. Chapter 8, 'A Renaissance Court in Istanbul' is quite, quite excellent. By contrast, the illustrations are poorly reproduced, and the maps are muddily printed, insufficiently detailed, and quite, quite useless for following the text: Sultan Mehmet would not, I fear, have been impressed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It was an informative introduction, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
to this man and his time: lets have more on the subject to quicken the pulse, put flesh on bones.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging, 15 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
Refreshing to read this book. Finally after Babinger's long and absolute despotic rule on Mehmed's biography in the English speaking world, a more balanced book is released. Freely pays less attention to the fanatically biased Doukas (which Babinger, Runciman and all the other Eurocentric old guard stick to religiously) and gives more weight to the most balanced and reliable contemporary source, Michael Kritovoulos. This is the best bio in English of Mehmed II, bringing out his fascinatingly complex character well, suitable for both specialist and general reader.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid - but dull reading, 20 Jun 2013
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Symmachus (Berlin Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
There is plenty of detail in this solid, if surprisingly dull, account of Mehmet, especially of his numerous campaigns, but the book seldom comes to life. We are told a lot about who did what and when, but the characters hardly ever come into focus as people (rather than just the creators of events). Mehmet was ruthless and extremely brutal, and probably a sexual predator (see the story of the fate of Lucas Notaras and his sons, here recounted in a matter-of-fact way, with no suggestion that Mehmet's sudden cruelty might have been caused by the frustrating of his lustful intentions). He was also a man who frequently and dishonourably broke his word. In short, as "great men" go he was a particularly nasty piece of work. The author doesn't say that, but readers will draw their own conclusions from this account of Mehmet's deeds and misdeeds.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book reveals little if anything about what made Fatih Mehmet 'Grand'., 19 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas (Hardcover)
The Grand Turk - a tourist book,

Fatih Mehmet was a quite complicated and driven person. Any attempt to write a biography of him perhaps should have been approached with some fear and perhaps even trembling. What is especially annoyng about this book is its flippant handling of either the events, personalities around him (e.g. Murad II his father) or more cogently, the inner personality of Mehmet. At best this is a superficial scan of an extraordinary man, Freely knows Istanbul well and has lived in Turkey long enough to feel the country and its history and the impact of the Sultans to this day on it. I wondered as I read it about the possible response of Mehmet himself on having it read to him...
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