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This is a reasonably balanced retelling of the last act in Turkish attempts to expand their empire westwards into Christendom. The writer attempts to strike a balance between appreciation of the military expertise of the Turks which, though different, matched that of their Western opponents, while at the same time trying to explain why certain decisions were made which contributed to the victory for the Christians. It was definitely not a war between courageous Christians and savage but cowardly foreigners.
The reading gets a 4 only because I cannot stand the author saying "4 July" rather than "on the fourth of July" each time a date appears!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I really liked listening to Andrew Wheatcroft???s The Enemy at the Gate, about the long conflict between the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires (and hence between Islam and Christianity and East and West), as read by Stefan Rudnicki (with his warm bass voice, gravitas, and enunciation). Even though I vaguely knew the outcome of big battles like the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 (from other histories and Wheatcroft???s foreshadowing), the events, told so vividly, were suspenseful.
In the first section of his book, Wheatcroft sets up the historical, political, and cultural background of the siege of Vienna and sketches the personalities and motivations of its key figures. He depicts the siege and its aftermath in the second and third sections. He recounts the errors, prejudices, and admirable points of both Ottoman and Hapsburg cultures and individuals, including frequent atrocities, rare mercies, and inevitable glorifications of their heroes. The details about the changing nature of Ottoman and Hapsburg warfare from the Middle Ages into the 18th century (weapons, artillery, fortifications, tactics, chains of command, supply, morale, and so on) are fascinating (if you like military history). Sipahis and hussars, janissaries and pikemen, pashas and colonels, miners and engineers??? And the etymology of grenade.
The conflict between the rival cultures who demonized each other and learned from each other sheds light on today???s world. The coda of the book, in which Wheatcroft explains how the biased and distorted visions of the past are still affecting us today (as in the feeling of many Europeans--like Cardinal Ratzinger--that Turkey should be kept out of the EU lest the heroic feats of the defenders of Vienna in 1683 be in vain), is powerful.
This book would be of most interest to fans of military history, but should also be heard by anyone who wants to know more about how the Eastern Islamic and Western Christian worlds came to feel the way they do about each other today.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
1683: The long clash between the Austrian Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire comes to a head outside of Vienna, as the Turks and their allies attempt to capture the city for the second time.
This book chronicles the events leading up to the bloody confrontation, as well as the details of the campaigns that followed.
The author lays out the events in an extremely unbias, academic, format and does not "whitewash" any event within. The narrative is excellent, this is easily the best account of this era that I have read.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful