Top positive review
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Fine overview of major campaign
on 26 August 2003
Historically, Lepanto holds a similar position to Salamis and Plataea, Waterloo, Stalingrad and Midway; in other words, a victory which prevented a seemingly overwhelming force from sweeping all before it. It is the sea equivalent of the Relief of the Siege of Vienna, in that, from that day onwards, the Ottoman threat was never quite perceived at the same level. There were still scares for the next 200 years, but, from then on, the Ottoman Empire could be seen as being mortal.
The author has used the same methods as he used in his previous books on Gettysburg and Midway; first of all assess the opposing forces and their capabilities, and then go back to original sources to see what the combatants on either side thought at any given time, as far as is possible over 430 years later.
Obviously, the battle itself cannot be treated as being in a "vacuum", and the author spends much of the book in detailing the background to the conflict between Christianity and Islam, and, thereby "setting the scene" for the climactic battle between the huge galley fleets.
The battle itself is brilliantly described, and, as with the author's previous books, he greatly helps his style of writing by utilising appendices full of relevant , and, at times almost overwhelming, information on the contending fleets.
It is many years since a full-scale campaign and battle history of what was considered in the 16th Century to be an earth-shattering event has been written in English, and it is a pleasure to read such a book which should remain a prime source on the subject.