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An excellent example of history writing at it's best
on 16 November 2014
The period covered by this book is an enthralling one, and, in many ways, the story is the final end of the crusades. Although the crusades that everyone thinks they know about were long over, their effects were still reverberating around the Mediterranean. The European Christians had long since left the Levant, but their residue were still very much alive, such as the Knights of Malta, and the Ottoman Empire was still growing at the expense of much of South East Europe. Whilst some in Europe still had fanciful ideas of new crusades, the Ottomans were slowly expanding, and politically, each new Sultan needed to produce victories to consolidate his position. This led to decades of conflict.
This book tells the story admirably. It is a difficult story to tell; there are so many strands to bring together that it could easily be either too detailed or too vague. The author, for me, gets it just right, and tells the story in a clear, but authoritative way.
In many ways, it is hard to see how the Ottomans failed. They were a ( reasonably) united single entity, whereas Europe was a mess of conflicting countries and states with little or no common ground or purpose. The road to the eventual outcome is told clearly and sometimes reads almost like a good novel. Although there were victories and defeats on both sides, from the perspective of the time, there was no clear winner. Only with hindsight can we see that eventually, the Ottomans turned inward, and Europe turned largely westward to the New World. This rift, which led to each side lacking understanding of the other, is still affecting us today.
Anyone who has an interest in history will find this book very worthwhile reading.