Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Empires of the Sea & r & by Roger Crowley & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & f you think relations between Islam and Christianity have been testy lately, you should read Empires of the Sea. Yikes! Back in the 16th century, the Mediterranean ran with blood as sultans Selim and Suleiman in Istanbul and kings Charles V and Philip II of Spain battled to control what, at the time, was the center of the world.





Roger Crowley's background as a teacher and former resident of Istanbul adds up to a knack for keeping you turning the pages. And unlike so many doorstoppers of late, Crowley manages to cover a half-century -- 1521-71 -- in ripping style and get out in just under 300 pages.





This was a time when the Ottoman Empire, just recently having won Istanbul from the Christians, was flexing its muscles. And they did it on the prows of galleys, nasty warships that could poke in and out of harbors quickly, leaving destruction in their wake and hauling off the slow-footed to the thriving Mediterranean slave trade. Christendom was vulnerable, with the Pope presiding over what seemed to be more a herd of cats than heads of state.





Still, in the two battles detailed in the book -- the Siege of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto -- the Christians won and kept the Ottomans in check. And what battles they were -- coming just after the printing press, they were recorded in amazing detail. (The Ottomans wrote everything down, too.) The Knights of St. John -- the last remnant of the Crusaders -- held off the invaders at Malta, and audacious seamanship under Don Juan of Austria sank the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. That 1571 engagement stood as the deadliest battle on the planet for nearly the next 300 years. Crowley evokes the utter horror of these scenes in Boschian detail. It's unbridled savagery on both sides.





Despite the blood, Empires of the Sea is filled with indelible characters and reminds us that there was a time when Europe just narrowly avoided what could have quickly become widespread Ottoman rule.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In the Spotlight
  • In the Spotlight

    Do you have the right to project your slogan on someone else's wall?
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • Idaho's Oil Country
  • Idaho's Oil Country

    Idaho is poised to tap its fossil fuels; plus, Inslee signs pot reforms into law
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • This Old House
  • This Old House

    If it could talk, it could tell stories of three generations, along with a lot of griping from neighbors
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
The Human Library

The Human Library @ Kendall Yards

Wed., May 6, 6-7 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • This Old House

    If it could talk, it could tell stories of three generations, along with a lot of griping from neighbors
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation