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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 10 December 2009
This is a pacy, easy-to-read overview of the steady westward movement of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth century Mediterrean and it's crunching full stop at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Like the many books on the Crusades, it has modern resonances and maintains an even-handedness throughout.

The strengths are the descriptions of the siege of Malta- in particular - and the cataclysmic battle of Lepanto. The weaknesses are a little bit of 'reaching' to make this area, perhaps, more fundamental to modern Europe than it actually was - describing the conflict as a 'world war' for example and the failure to convey what the combatants in a naval battle are actually trying to do or achieve. How does a sea battle 'work'? I am sure the author was trying to avoid the level of detail that takes a book like this - very much a popular history - into a military history sales cul-de-sac, but I felt this undercut some of the tension. The siege description was far more gripping.

Nevertheless in a decent epilogue, Roger Crowley makes the pithy point that rising prices and cheap labour costs in the Christian West did as much to undermine the Ottomans as Don Juan's galleys. Capitalism wins again!
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