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The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  389 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Major historian Andrew Wheatcroft reveals the full story behind four centuries of Ottoman incursions into the heartlands of Europe.

In 1683, two empires — the Ottoman, based in Constantinople, and the Habsburg dynasty in Vienna — came face to face in the culmination of a 250-year-old struggle for power at the Great Siege of Vienna. Within the city walls, the choice of resis
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 31st 2009 by The Bodley Head Ltd
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Clif Hostetler
This book recounts the collision of empires by describing the many pitched battles that raged for centuries between the Habsburgs and Ottomans and their numerous vassal states on both sides. It was touted on both sides as being a clash of the Godly versus the infidel.

Territory was the aim. But there was another less tangible motivation, the claim of heir to the legacy of the Roman Empire. I didn’t realize before I read this book that the Ottoman Sultans considered themselves to be the true succ
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Caroline
I enjoyed this fairly detailed history of the centuries of conflict between the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There is an agenda, but it isn’t addressed until the final chapter, so that the bulk of the book can be read without the fog of a big message. Wheatcroft wants to draw parallells between the fear of the Turk that drove A-H diplomacy military affairs in the 1600s and the fear of the Turk (immigrant) that now affects much European policy toward ‘guest workers’. He makes the cas ...more
'Aussie Rick'



This book had the potential to offer so much on such an interesting subject however I found the author’s style of writing dull, so much so that I had problems finishing this book.

It’s a shame but I don’t think that this book offered anything new in this history of the 1683 Ottoman siege of Vienna that hasn’t already been covered in John Stove’s “The Siege of Vienna”.

If you have not previously read anything on this subject then this may be the book for you but be aware that I found the writing
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Jean Poulos
In this book Wheatcroft brilliantly shows the skirmishes and battles that raged for centuries between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans, and their numerous vassals on both sides, represented not so much a “clash of civilizations’ as a collision of Empires. The author point out the struggle was not so much between Islam and Christendom, territory was the goal, and the right to claim the legacy of the Roman Empire.

Wheatcroft is the author of several books on both the Hapsburg and Ottomans. He is a no
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JP Mac
Enjoyable narrative on the clash between the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires in 1683. A high-water mark for Ottoman conquest in Europe, the Turks were forced back by a Hapsburg counterattack and compelled to surrender Hungary.

Most fascinating for me was the tactical differences between the two armies and the effect of the printing press on Western military development. Turks were hand-to-hand masters who surged forward in a mob, while Hapsburg forces maneuvered in mass thanks to drills codified and
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Brian
An excellent and well-written narrative history, primarily focused on military matters, though the author also covers political, social, and cultural issues to a lesser extent. While the events leading up to the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans and the campaigns following its subsequent relief are gripping in their own right, the antecedents to our current and seemingly intractable differences with the Islamic world are laid out and are shown to be deeply rooted in the same fears and manifested i ...more
Travis
Europe from the 12th - 17th century, has always been my historical weak point so I sought out this book to obtain a decent overview of an important era and battle that I had only previously known about in passing. Thankfully, the author provides just that, a nice overview of the second siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, but sometimes he skims over important events and individuals to quickly.

If you have never studied this era, there is still quite a bit of new information contained he
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Raja
The book has its strong and weak points. It’s an easy read. It’s informative. The author adds value with his analysis. He makes very persuasive links between the specific subject he covers and broader histories such as those of Europe as a whole. He also makes a strong case against conventional wisdom – especially the famous “sick man of Europe” narrative, which is applied to both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires at certain stages of their history. However, I think I got the gist of his ...more
Jesse
A fascinating look at the Ottoman attack on Vienna in 1683, along with a particularly smart discussion of how, ironically enough, after that the frontier settled around Yugoslavia, and then the Ottomans slowly became part of Europe in several ways, rhetorically at least, when compared to the Russian menace. Hence their role in the Crimean War and their joining WWI on the side of Austria-Hungary, the same empire they'd besieged 300 years before. It was oddly apropos to read his conclusion about t ...more
Josie
A good book that could have been great with some editing. I did not know much about the Ottoman empire, or the Siege of Vienna, so I found it enjoyable overall.

The good: overview of Turkish history; description of the Ottoman fighting style, particularly how their organization and cleanliness set them apart from Western armies; the descriptions of the major players (the sultan, emperor, grand vizier and various generals) and the siege of Vienna. The not-so-good: too much military detail in parts
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Christian Olson
Pretty good read, seemed well researched, held my interest, pacing was moderate, dived into great detail on both sides, more detail about the Ottomans. The end of the book is slower than I expected. I like that the author was interested in what has happened since the lifting of the siege of Vienna but, it is a bunch of ground to cover and it dragged a bit.
Nick Kanpoor
This is a great book for anyone interested in Balkan History. The book proved to be the perfect level of challenging and entertaining and the insight that the author gave into the societies of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire was priceless. If you are looking for a book that is easy to read but at the same time loaded with information on every page then you will want to read this.

The book focuses specifically on the Siege of Vienna in 1683, but it gives great insight into the history of t
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Andy
Warfare in seventeenth century Europe was exceedingly brutal, and from Andrew Wheatcroft’s account of the 1683 Battle of Vienna, it must have been quite terrifying to behold. Wheatcroft describes a siege of overwhelming force, a mass of men thrown recklessly against Vienna’s armaments. Tactical weaponry was still very crude by modern standards, but combatants overcame accuracy limitations by sheer volume, a nearly constant hail of bullets, grenades, and mortars thrust at the enemy.

Sappers (miner
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Bill
This book chronicles the epic struggle waged between Christendom (represented primarily by the Hapsburg Empire) and Islam (represented primarily by the Ottoman Empire) concentrating on the epic battles waged in the 16th and 17th centuries. The central focus in on the Turks' siege of Vienna in 1683 which represented the high water mark of the Muslim campaign in Europe. I would like to have given more stars than I did because the the work is an ambitious endeavor. One its strengths is the copious ...more
Pctrollbreath
This is one of those books that prove that you can enjoy a book about a subject about which you don't have a huge interest, so long as the author is skilled and knowledgeable enough to communicate his interest to you.

That said, I did find it a bit tough for the first couple of chapters. The author initially comes across as overly academic with an addiction to rarely used words (this was the first time in nearly two years of reading on the kindle that I have had to make us of dictionary function)
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Victor Tatarskii
Nicely written but very small book on Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the following reconquering of Hungary.

I am very conflicted about this book. On the one hand it's nicely written and contains a lot of facts about the events I knew little about - apart from the famous Polish charge to save Vienna. On the other hand, it feels incomplete, small and frustratingly not focused. In only 250 or so pages, Wheatcroft describes not only preparation of Ottoman forces for the campaign and the background, and
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Erskine
This was a quick, easy read, but a bit fluffy. It was a welcome break from some of the heavier reading I've been doing lately, and made a good introduction to the centuries long conflict between the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires. Wheatcroft's description of the Siege of Vienna was colorful and gripping. Though I knew the outcome, I found myself unable to put the book down until I had gotten through that part.

Outside the siege, the war is only outlined in brief sketches. The author is only concer
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Craig Fiebig
Some books suffer in an audio format simply from the tonality and meter of the reader, as happened here. But the deeper cause for the low score was the meandering style of the author; unusual depth where un-required (fortresses, Ottoman camp's splendor) and unwarranted commitment to a thinly supportable thesis. No point in glossing over the cultural conflict that is a very real, and growing, source of tragedy.
Mal Thomas
This fascinating and enlightening book described in detail the clash of two religious and geographical cultures culminating in the withdrawal of the Ottomans from trying to venture into and conquer Europe. The Ottomans were relatively sophisticated in many areas. However, in matters of war, the Holy Roman Empire had a more organized approach which culminated in the repulsion of the Ottomans from their siege of Vienna. Andrew Wheatcroft is a very descriptive writer who was able to provide insight ...more
Jostein Moen
This is history written and told as history should. Wheatcroft serves us a superb mix of drama, action, background and close-up character studies. Fortunately he has left chauvinism out of the stew. I was told they have a Jan 3. Sobieski vodka in Poland, named after the king who tipped the battle with his hussars. That’s the perfect drink to go with Wheatcroft’s delicious dish.
gun
Kanuni ve Şarlken dönemleri ile altın çağını aynı anda yaşayan, 1683'te II. Viyana kuşatması ile karşı karşıya gelen, 100 yıl sonra karşılıklı savaşmayı bırakan ve hatta müttefik olan,yine tarih sahnesinden aynı anda silinen iki hanedanın iç içe geçmiş hikayesi.

Kitap Kanuni döneminde, Belgrad ve Budin'in fethinden sonraki Habsburg ve Osmanlıların Güneydoğu Avrupa'da karşı karşıya geldiği dönemle başlıyor. Özellikle Kuşatma hazırlıkları, Viyana tahkimatının güçlendirilme çalışmaları ve özellikle
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Jill Cordry
Well researched from a military and art perspective, but poorly written and difficult to follow. Statements such as, "In hindsight, bot (wars) were ill considered, created solely to meet diplomatic expedients by Hapsburg officials with scant understanding of military realities," are followed by descriptions of battles, but no mention of the diplomatic expedients. "On19 September 1792, the incomparable Prussian army was marching from the Rhine to reverse the events of 1789," is not accompanied by ...more
Chris
Most certainly not for the lay reader. The written account of the battle, a very small portion of the book, is very interesting and readable. Parts one and three of the book Wheatcroft jumps around the time-line so frequently the reader has a difficulty knowing what period the author is currently discussing.
Allen
A great book tracing the wars between the Ottoman Turks who considered themselves the rightful inheritors of the Roman Empire and the Habsburgs, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire (which according to Voltaire was none of the above). This rivalry culminated in the great Siege of Vienna in 1683 in which a last minute charge from out of the Vienna Woods by the Habsburg army supported by the Poles saved Vienna and "saved" Europe from the Ottoman Turks and Islam. Over the next 300 years, the Turks went ...more
Josh
First part is great, setting the stage with compelling overviews of how Ottomans and Habsburgs thought and ruled and fought. But (for me) then gets bogged down in lengthy descriptions of battles.
John Daly
The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe by Andrew Wheatcroft tells the story of the siege, but doesn't really deal with the experience from the point of view of the foot soldiers who did most of the suffering and dying. Still, it was possible to read through the story of the "movers and shakers" responsible for these events to see the absolute horror of the experience of the foot soldier. Of course, the Janissary who succeeded in some act of great and conspicuous ga ...more
Tom
Not a popular topic but an interesting one for the historian...but the writer is sadly too dull in some areas and too obsessed by gore in others. Sadly uneven.
Joe
Good account of the Habsburg and Ottoman rivalry in southeast Europe in the early modern period. The siege of Vienna is very well done; late seventeenth century fortifications theory and design, and siege tactics really are more interesting than you might think. The book also provides analysis of the folk memory of the fearsome Turk; a problem for the Austrians who as a result seemed to be looking in the wrong direction when the Prussian threat from the north emerged. It’s true the Ottomans coul ...more
Brent Sherman
I started this book while on a long road trip, and it did not fail yo keep my attention. Enemy At The Gate tells a story about the greatest event in Europe since the fall of Constantinople and does so in very rich detail. The book lays out the planning in vivid detail and leads out the march to Vienna with great excitement. I agree with other reviewers that the book falls short in the seige and aftermath parts, but the book is so well written that I can forgive the breifness. There might be more ...more
Phritz
The Ottomans provide a history that keeps on giving, and they are especially prolific when contrasted against the Austria-Hungarian empire. Enemy at the Gate focuses on the borderlands between the two empires and the struggle to control the Slavic states. The conflict is fascinating in its own right and the reader finds both sides simultaneously sympathetic and foolish (even provincial). And, while the conflict is fascinating enough in its own time to more than warrant the read, it also sheds li ...more
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