The book: not the usual Crusade history on battles for the Holy Land; this deals with the last great shifts of power in the Old World - the Ottoman conquest of the last bits of Byzantium, the Castilian/Aragonese conquest of Granada, the battles of the central Med such as Malta, Tunis, Lepanto; the 150-year wars of Portugal in Morocco; the personality clashes, like Charles V/Francis I; intrigue, battles, explorations, trading, treachery, religious strife (both Catholic/Protestant and Shia/Sunni) The book is divided into three main periods: 1. 1450-1499, Birth of new powers (Portugal, Ottoman Turkey, Spain, North African corsairs, Moroccan rulers) 2. 1499-1560, Struggle (emergence of Portugal as trading empire, the Portugal/Morocco wars, the internal Moroccan strife, Burgundy/Spain vs France, Suleiman the Magnificent, the North African corsairs) 3. 1560-1590, Destruction (battle of Djerba, sieges of Malta & Nicosia & Famagusta, Lepanto, the last Portuguese invasions of Morocco)
My opinion: an excellent overview, combined with a fine eye for detail and a very readable style. New for me was the view from the Muslim side as well as from the Christian sides, and showing the disunity in both. There is focus on the main players/personalities, but in such a way that they are firmly rooted (and explained) in and by their environment. Did you know the borders of current-day Algeria are still those as set up by the Barbarossa brothers in the 1520s? I certainly did not, and I learned much else besides -and in the most enjoyable way, through an engaging and very well-written book. Highly recommended!