On the morning of October 7, 1571, in the Gulf of Lepanto on the Ionian Sea, the vast and heavily-manned fleets of the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League clashed in one of the most significant battles in history. By four o'clock that afternoon the sea was red with blood. It was a victory of the west-the first major victory of Europeans against the Ottoman Empire. In this cOn the morning of October 7, 1571, in the Gulf of Lepanto on the Ionian Sea, the vast and heavily-manned fleets of the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League clashed in one of the most significant battles in history. By four o'clock that afternoon the sea was red with blood. It was a victory of the west-the first major victory of Europeans against the Ottoman Empire. In this compelling piece of narrative history, Niccolo Capponi describes the clash of cultures that led to this crucial confrontation and takes a fresh look at the bloody struggle at sea between oared fighting galleys and determined men of faith. As a description of the age-old conflict between Christianity and Islam, it is a story that resonates today....
|Title||:||Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto|
|Number of Pages||:||448 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto Reviews
For the first thousand years after the armies of Islam burst, like a tsunami, upon the unsuspecting empires of late antiquity, destroying the Sassanids and crippling Byzantium, it must have seemed inevitable that the heirs to the Desert Prophet would eventually win, and the crescent flag fly from the cities of Europe, as they flew over the towns that had created and cradled Christianity: places like Corinth, Hippo, Antioch and Jerusalem itself. They all fell under Muslim rule. A grim foreboding seized Christendom, a sense of the inevitable failure of the struggle, a sense made more implacable by the loss of the Crusader Kingdoms and the dribbling away of the crusading impulse under the weight of its contradictions and the rivalries of the kingdoms of Europe.It was like trying to fight the rising tide. Waves flowed up the beach, and back again, sometimes seeming to recede, but always returning and gradually washing higher, sweeping away, like sand castles, defences that had once seemed firm.Looking back, with the historical ignorance that now informs most Western debate about Islam, we seem to have forgotten how desperate the struggle was and how doomed it must have seemed. And each time one Islamic dynasty failed, it was replaced by another, more dynamic and more expansionist than the last. So as the Abbasids declined, they were replaced by the Mamluks, and then, finally but no one knew that, the Ottomans. Under the Sublime Porte, Rome - in its eastern Byzantine form - finally fell and the Ottomans advanced into south eastern Europe, conquering Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, turning the Black Sea into an Ottoman lake and twice beseiging Vienna.The flow was all one way: Muslim advance, Christian retreat. The only exception was the centuries long Reconquista, the reconquest of Spain, once the brightest, most brilliant civilisation of the Islamic world.The key to this centuries long strategic difference was Christian disunity compared to Muslim unity. The Islamic world saw a succession of strong, centrally organised empires, exercising a long-term unity of purpose directed towards military expansion. The Christian world featured innumerable competing, squabbling, fighting kingdoms, mainly concerned with protecting themselves against the ambitions of their immediate neighbours than the doings of the Sultan. What's more, as kingdoms coalesced in the late Middle Ages to become the ancestors of modern nations, the Sublime Porte became a most useful ally in the diplomatic/military dance against Holy Roman Emperor/France/Venice/Papal States (delete adversary as applicable). Then, when Europe fractured in the great break up of the Reformation, the skilled diplomatic service of the Ottomans found it had even more fissures to exploit.For the Venetians, consummate players of the game and thus not trusted by anyone, matters came to a head in the second half of the 16th century as their trading interests and colonies in the eastern Mediterranean were gobbled up by the Ottomans. With Cyprus beseiged, they decided to act, and with the pope, Pius V, an enthusiastic advocate, set about forming an alliance to act against the dominant Ottoman navy - which had not lost a battle for centuries. The problem was, the Spanish, the other main members of the Holy League, were perpetually beset by money worries and the last thing King Philip II wanted to risk was his very expensive ships. The Mediterranean, with its calm waters and long calms, was ideally suited to galleys - but feeding, supplying and paying the men needed to man a galley was wildly expensive. So Philip, for form, joined the Holy League but left his commanders in no doubt that he wanted to avoid battle if at all possible.But as fortune, and family, would have it, Philip had trusted the command of the Holy League to his half brother, Don Juan of Austria, telling him to avoid women as well as battle. Don Juan had no intention of doing either and, after many months, brought the bickering, quarrelling fleets of the Holy League to face the Ottoman navy at Lepanto.Capponi points out how battle became inevitable in part because both sides were convinced that they were the stronger. In the end, the Holy League won, and Capponi gives a detailed and convincing account of the battle, a confusion of gunsmoke, burning ships and drowning men.For the first time in centuries the Ottoman advance was halted. It might have seemed like just another sandcastle, standing before a retreating wave only to be overwhelmed when the sea rose again, but it turned out to be the start of the turning of the tide. Capponi is a master of the historical sources, particularly on the Christian side, and this is a fine account of one of the most definitive battles in history. Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, fought at Lepanto, dragging himself from his fever bed to do so and losing the use of his left hand as a result of the wounds he suffered during the battle. Yet even so, he could say:What I cannot help taking amiss is that he charges me with being old and one-handed, as if it had been in my power to keep time from passing over me, or as if the loss of my hand had been brought about in some tavern, and not on the grandest occasion the past or present has seen, or the future can hope to see. My only real criticism of the book is that the publishers skimped on the proofreading: there are far too many typos and infelicities of translation. Otherwise, excellent.
This one gets 4 stars, for the title, if nothing else. As the author states, he chose the title just to be provocative. There is no “West” to speak of in the 16th Century but there certainly was the Turkish Empire or “The Porte”. And was that a formidable force! I don’t think we view the Turks as a sea power, now or ever. But in the 16th Century, they were amazingly powerful on land and sea. The book covers a lot of ground in the 75-100 years up to the Battle of Lepanto (which is dealt with at the end in far too little detail).One thing stands out, the Muslim-Christian clashes of that era are far different than today. In many interactions there is almost a mutual respect by the combatants, although that doesn’t mean there aren’t atrocities and outrages by each. This book brings out clearly the role of religion in how states competed, while also pointing out that business and profit can easily get each side to overlook religion when money can be made. But each side was confident enough to often let the other religion conduct religious services for slave or captive populations. Another thing that this book brings out well is the brilliant strategic and tactical plans of the Turks. Opposing them was a motley collection of various monarchs and merchant princes/states. Hard to fathom how the “West” came out victorious in the end.The 16th Century and its cast of characters are fascinating. The Medici’s, Don Juan, Suleyman the Magnificent, Cervantes at the battle itself. Worth spending more time on this period of history.
The title of the book claims a little bit more than is delivered (which is probably for the best). This popular history (with no hand wringing over religious warfare) piles on the details and makes it clear that the "West" did not exist in the minds of European leaders (at least not before ideas of national interest). The book is really a history of the centuries leading up to the Venetian/Spanish victory over the Ottomans at Lepanto, following the fortunes of the Ottomans, Venetians, Spanish, and papacy, among others. The battle itself takes up only one chapter (I wanted more of it actually) and it passes in too much of a flurry. Capponi writes in a breezy light style, but piles on too many details, especially names of people and places, and they become a bit of a blur. I enjoyed it and the backbone of history he provided - the detail did tend to overwhelm and the battle's importance was lost amid the sea of names.
The first 250 pages of the book serve as background leading up to the battle of Lepanto, the account of which takes up only one chapter. If you enjoy history, especially the history of Muslim-Christian relations, you will enjoy this book. It is filled with a myriad of names and places, but the story is told well. Perhaps victory of the west is a misleading title, as for much of this time period France was in league with the Ottoman empire. Nevertheless, Lepanto was a turning point for both the Ottoman Turks and the Christian nations of western Europe, which Capponi points to in a too brief epilogue. For as much background as there was, to demonstrate that this battle was the "victory" of the west, a few chapters on what happened afterward would have been good.Just a note, I recently read and gave 3 stars to a few books by James Reston. I give this 3 stars also, but found it much better than Reston's work, so perhaps 3.5 or 3.75 stars would be more appropriate.
Capponi tells the story both of the Battle of Lepanto and the war leading up to it. The title suggests that this is an ideologically-loaded account that panders to contemporary anti-Muslim sentiments, but this is not the case at all. There is no readily apparent bias in the account, nor is there any attempt whatsoever to glorify the Christian cause. In fact, I found this book quite illuminating in the attention it paid to the quarrels among the Christian powers involved in the so-called "Holy League" that won at the battle. An excellent antidote to the propagandistic art and literature that was produced in both Italy and Spain after the victory.
A fun read, packed with detail and covering a couple hundred years of European\Ottoman political intrigue. The back story regarding the formation of the Holy League, the life story of the real Don Juan, the differences in tactics and technology that made the difference at Lepanto and much else, are truly fascinating and help provide a context for a history the impact of which continues to this day.
This book provides a fascinating history of the Ottoman Empire and its Christian enemies in the 16th century, centering on the decisive battle that marked the beginning of the end for the Ottomans. The author provides insight into a period that does not receive much scrutiny. He strikes a good balance between providing a macro level history and providing insight into the individuals involved. He also has a pleasing style, making the book a fast read.
A solid read on a naval battle with broad consequences on Ottoman expansion efforts into Europe. The author does a good job setting the scene and explaining the back story before taking you into the battle. For those who usually do not read this sort of thing I could see this being a bit dry for them.
boring, horrible, awful
Good, but a bit of a name blizzard towards the end