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

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  541 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
In 1683, an Ottoman army that stretched from horizon to horizon set out to seize the “Golden Apple,” as Turks referred to Vienna. The ensuing siege pitted battle-hardened Janissaries wielding seventeenth-century grenades against Habsburg armies, widely feared for their savagery. The walls of Vienna bristled with guns as the besieging Ottoman host launched bombs, fired cann ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Basic Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,419)
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Clif Hostetler
Jul 22, 2013 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
'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
Mar 15, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Myke Cole
Jun 21, 2015 Myke Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a riveting account of an incredibly dramatic battle, and a key point in world history, that is sadly underdocumented/analyzed in English. The only other available books in current circulation are Stoyes' book, which is extremely dry and dull, and Simmons' book, which is little more than a well-written pamphlet aimed at wargamers.

Wheatcroft does great justice to this incredible story, using a narrative style that focuses in on characters in their own words, and uses the uniting theme of fear
Jul 01, 2012 Raja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-history
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
Jun 04, 2015 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very informative, but I didn't feel any great passion about it, nor get a huge sense of the author's point of view until the end, when he covers the centuries following this conflict. The Ottomans' continued desire to conquer Vienna belied their conviction that they were the true successors to the Eastern Roman Empire since they had conquered the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople. The Ottomans wanted to be a bit more then merely the leading Islamic nation in trade, technology and ...more
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
J.P. Mac
Mar 08, 2014 J.P. Mac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 09, 2010 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2015 Judith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, islam
I had little knowledge of the contest between the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans during the years 1500-1750 or so; at least I remember nothing of that from Western Civilization history in college. Hence, I found this very well written and very lively book fascinating. Some of the names were vaguely familiar--Prince Eugene of Savoy--but most of the European history I know of focuses on western Europe. If Vienna had fallen, eastern Europe would certainly have come under Ottoman control and the course ...more
Feb 03, 2014 Josie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Al Maki
May 18, 2016 Al Maki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, places
Usually I read a number of books at once: different times, different places, different books. I read this one all the way through without switching to anything else. It's in three parts: the Great Siege of Vienna in 1683; its immediate aftermath, the counterattack of the Ottomans by the Austrians and the subsequent relations of the two powers through to the end of the Great War. The book is nicely written and the first two parts are quite engaging. I liked the third part less because it's in the ...more
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.
Donald Luther
I'm very much torn about this book. On the one hand, I was anxious to leap into it and fill out what scanty knowledge I had about the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, a point I made annually in my AP European history course, as part of the period of Louis XIV's expansionist policies. And I was pleased with the amount of information, both new material and things I was already familiar with, that lay here: Information about strategy and tactics, commanders, specific battles and campaigns, the moti ...more
Bill Taylor
Jun 21, 2016 Bill Taylor rated it liked it
I suspect that, when most people educated in the U.S. think of European History in the 15th through 17th century, the main events that come to mind are: the Renaissance, Reformation, exploration of the New World, even the 30 yrs war and the rise of Oliver Cromwell in England. However at the same time in Central and South Eastern Europe a monumental struggle occurred between the Hapsburg dynasty (centered in Vienna) and the Ottoman Turks. This fight continued until late in the 18th century.
Nick Kanpoor
Jan 16, 2014 Nick Kanpoor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2009 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2010 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2012 Pctrollbreath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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)
Victor Tatarskii
Jun 20, 2013 Victor Tatarskii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 30, 2013 Erskine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
Dec 19, 2010 Mal Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2015 Jostein Moen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 01, 2012 gun rated it really liked it
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
It is a good -- if lengthy -- telling of the events leading up to the siege of Vienna in 1683 and the aftermath. The author uses the events leading up to it as a lens for viewing the greater Habsburg/Ottoman relationship with an additional subtext about "fear" that is much less compelling.
Aug 18, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Well researched and full of good information, but ultimately I thought the book lacked focus. The last portion of the book goes on about Prinz Eugen who played only a very minor part in the Siege of Vienna, which is the focus of most of the book. It seeks to wrap up the last 200 years of Austrian-Ottoman relations in 50 pages after spending the previous 200 on vastly shorter time period. Makes a good addition to your reading list if you are very interested in the history of the Ottoman Empire's ...more
Jill Cordry
May 26, 2013 Jill Cordry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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