Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley
The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

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Synopsis

In 1521, Suleiman the Magnificent, Muslim ruler of the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power, dispatched an invasion fleet to the Christian island of Rhodes. This would prove to be the opening shot in an epic struggle between rival empires and faiths for control of the Mediterranean and the center of the world.

In Empires of the Sea, acclaimed historian Roger Crowley has written his most mesmerizing work to date–a thrilling account of this brutal decades-long battle between Christendom and Islam for the soul of Europe, a fast-paced tale of spiraling intensity that ranges from Istanbul to the Gates of Gibraltar and features a cast of extraordinary characters: Barbarossa, “The King of Evil,” the pirate who terrified Europe; the risk-taking Emperor Charles V; the Knights of St. John, the last crusading order after the passing of the Templars; the messianic Pope Pius V; and the brilliant Christian admiral Don Juan of Austria.

This struggle’s brutal climax came between 1565 and 1571, seven years that witnessed a fight to the finish decided in a series of bloody set pieces: the epic siege of Malta, in which a tiny band of Christian defenders defied the might of the Ottoman army; the savage battle for Cyprus; and the apocalyptic last-ditch defense of southern Europe at Lepanto–one of the single most shocking days in world history. At the close of this cataclysmic naval encounter, the carnage was so great that the victors could barely sail away “because of the countless corpses floating in the sea.” Lepanto fixed the frontiers of the Mediterranean world that we know today.

Roger Crowley conjures up a wild cast of pirates, crusaders, and religious warriors struggling for supremacy and survival in a tale of slavery and galley warfare, desperate bravery and utter brutality, technology and Inca gold. Empires of the Sea is page-turning narrative history at its best–a story of extraordinary color and incident, rich in detail, full of surprises, and backed by a wealth of eyewitness accounts. It provides a crucial context for our own clash of civilizations.
 

About Roger Crowley

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Roger Crowley was born in 1951 and spent part of his childhood in Malta. He read English at Cambridge University and taught English in Istanbul, where he developed a strong interest in the history of Turkey. He has traveled widely throughout the Mediterranean basin over many years and has a wide-ranging knowledge of its history and culture. He lives in Gloucestershire, England. He is also the author of 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published July 1, 2008 by Random House. 368 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Religion & Spirituality, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Radiating from Madrid and Istanbul across Europe, the engines of imperial power collided catastrophically in 1565 on the rugged island of Malta, a launch pad for the crusading Knights of Saint John headed by the zealous Jean Parisot de La Valette.

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The Guardian

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Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean 1521-1580 by Roger Crowley 328pp, Faber, £20 There is a certain British genius for Boys' Own Paper military history, and Roger Crowley has it.

May 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Empires of the Sea: The Siege...

Christian Science Monitor

Often histories of 16th-century Europe focus on the unfolding dramas of Northern Europe: the religious ferment of the Reformation or Tudor England, that romping Renaissance soap opera featuring the ever-recognizable Henry VIII and all those wives, and his fiery daughter, Elizabeth I, patron of Sh...

Jul 14 2008 | Read Full Review of Empires of the Sea: The Siege...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Europe has witnessed some bitter conflicts in its time, but for sheer savagery and blind religious fervour, few can match the 16th-century struggle for the mastery of the Mediterranean between the Ottoman Turks and the loose association of Christian states sheltering under the Hapsburg flag.

Jul 31 2008 | Read Full Review of Empires of the Sea: The Siege...

Publishers Weekly

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Crowley (1453 ), an independent scholar of the 16th-century Mediterranean, focuses here on the final contest between Christian and Muslim, Hapsburg and Ottoman, for control of the Middle Sea.

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Bookmarks Magazine

At the close of this cataclysmic naval encounter, the carnage was so great that the victors could barely sail away “because of the countless corpses floating in the sea.” Lepanto fixed the frontiers of the Mediterranean world that we know today.

Roger Crowley conjures up a wild cast of pir...

Jul 20 2008 | Read Full Review of Empires of the Sea: The Siege...

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