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Constantinople: The Last Great Siege 1453

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,404 Ratings  ·  242 Reviews
In the spring of 1453, the Ottoman Turks advanced on Constantinople in pursuit of an ancient Islamic dream: the capture of the thousand year-old capital of Christian Byzantium. This text is an intense, extraordinary tale of courage and cruelty, technological ingenuity, endurance and luck.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Faber & Faber (first published May 29th 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 22, 2007 Sonanova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, those interested in the early confrontations between Islam and the West
This book was very enjoyable, narrative, and engaging effort to explain what is perhaps one of the most facinating and famous clashes of all time. The author took efforts to make the reader understand not only the personalities of the conflict, but the atmosphere and environs in which the events took place. The result is a clear and consise history, with every effort made to remain unbaised and retain historical details, without completely sacrificing the story itself. It is certainly not a bori ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Much of my historical reading often refers to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, but none of it describes the battle itself in any real depth. It seemed to be an important historical turning point as the Middle Ages developed into the Renaissance, and I wanted to learn more about it.

Thanks to Roger Crowley's informative, accessible introduction to the subject, I have a much greater understanding of "the last great siege" not only in terms of its immediate historical context, but also its contin
Juliana Es
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 11, 2015 Liviu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
good account, fast and gripping; entertaining enough (and offering a good mixture of familiar and new)
Oct 11, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Driving into town from Istanbul airport you are confronted by a massed array of enormous ancient walls right by the highway. Which in turn always made me want to read more about Constantinople and how it became Istanbul (also the topic of a very catchy they might be giants song).

To the credit of the author he delivers in clear simple prose the answer to how the city with the mightiest fortifications in the world fell. Even more admirably he avoids drawing simplistic parallels between today's rel
Sep 19, 2013 11 rated it it was amazing
Like the city of Constantinople itelf, the events in this book are very complex. In his analysis of the seige, Roger Crowley skillfully follows several strings:

The Byzantines successfully defended Constantinople for centuries against repeated assaults from the Near East. When Arab forces seemed almost certain to take the city in 678, a highly-classified weapon called "Greek Fire" saved the day. Greek fire was essentially a napalm-like substance made from wet sand and surface oil found
An eminently readable and detailed account of the May 1453 Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire. I enjoyed this account and learned a lot.

Background to the conflict was presented, then the personalities of the two protagonists, Constantine XI, aged 49, and Mehmet II, a boy of 21. We are taken through the conflict, point by point. There are many quotes from accounts of that period. The Ottomans have swallowed up most of the Byzantine Empire already; but Mehmet thinks of himself as a new
Dec 29, 2008 te is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to te by: mark glazer
next spring's honor's trip is to istanbul, and i asked a turkish friend of mine what would be a good read to prep. he suggested this book. scholars generally mark the end of middle ages and byzantium by the fall of constantinople in, d'oh! 1453 by mehmet II.

geek food? i s'pose, but it's beautifully written: "driven by the word of god and divine conquest, the people of the desert constructed navies 'to wage holy war by sea'..."

and it's delightfully full of hmmmm tidbits. greek fire, for instanc
Myke Cole
Jun 14, 2014 Myke Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1453 covers a contentious moment in the history of the struggle between East and West. There was a lot of potential for partisan campaigning, character-slander and historical sleight-of-hand. Crowley neatly avoids these pitfalls, presenting a balanced, sympathetic portrait of the characters and the world, all while maintaining a dramatic voice befiting a fiction novelist. Gripping and educating.
Jansen Wee
Aug 03, 2011 Jansen Wee rated it liked it
A detailed historical rending of the siege of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) in 1453, and yet one that is extremely readable. Crowley's telling of the historical event showed how culturally biased perceptions by the Orthodox Greeks and the other parts of Christendom (in this case against the Ottoman Turks), led them to commit a series of strategic errors that eventually left Constantinople diplomatically isolated. Hence, its heightened vulnerability when the new sultan, Mehmet II, ascended ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Zahrazha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tak bisa di bayangkan sebuah negeri dengan kesempurnaannya dan ketaatan para pemeluknya yang selalu menjadi incaran para penguasa terdahulu .. entah dari satu kaki yang mampu berdiri diantara kedua benua asia dan eropa yang mampu membentuk konstantinopel menjadi sebuah negeri yang tak tertandingi bak surga yang Tuhan berikan kepada penduduk bumi kala itu.
crowley mampu menuturkannya dengan dramatis dan indah ketika byzantium tersungkur oleh kekuatan pasukan muslim turki utsmani dalam menaklukan k
John Caviglia
Apr 16, 2016 John Caviglia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, middle-east
Well written but surprisingly disappointing, considering that I knew little about this signal event. Perhaps this is because the last campaign is siege warfare--than which no more terrible and continued sameness can be imagined--culminating in the horrors of the known end. There are some fascinating figures on both the Muslim and Christian sides, though....
Jan 26, 2016 Evgenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A meticulous exploration of the last days of Constantinople as well as the social, religious, and political forces behind its demise. Although well written and interesting enough, much of it is a bit slow for those (such as myself) who are not too enthralled with military history. However, Roger Crowley more than makes up for it with the climactic end: In the space of 35 pages, he covers the last 24 hours of the Byzantine Empire in an engrossing narrative that captures not only factual details b ...more
To be honest, I had hoped for more than just the tale of the fall of Constantinople. For example, I had read somewhere that it was because of the fall of the 'Eastern Rome' (Constantinople) that Ptolemy's lost Geographia had been re-found to the West. This geography, written by Ptolemy in the 1-2C AD using 8,000 known geographic points was instrumental in helping Europe launch its cceanic explorations that eventually led to the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and Vasco de Gama's landin ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, religion
This was a pretty good and fast read, and gave a very interesting and balanced picture of the two sides in the long-standing conflict between Muslim Asia and Christian Europe. The description of the state of Constantinople in 1453, a once-proud metropolis brought low by disease, corruption and schism, was particularly interesting.

That said, the most interesting chapters by far were the first and last ones, which described much longer periods of time and connected the rise of Islam and disintegr
Sep 25, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Agree whole heartedly with the the lead for the book: "a gripping exploration of the fall of Constantinople." A wonderful and thrilling read. THE BEST BOOK I have read in a long time. Mr. Crowley brings the actors, motivations, settings and action vividly to life. You can feel the intelligence of Mehmet, the desperation of Constantine, the roar of the cannons and the sound of battle.

I learned a great deal from this book, in particular that many of the seeds of conflict between East and West, bet
dedeh  handayani

ROGER CROWLEY (lahir pada 1951 di Inggris) adalah lulusan Cambridge University. Usai menuntaskan sekolah dasar dan menengah, ia menghabiskan masa musim panas di Yunani untuk membuat barang tembikar. Setamat dari universitas, anak dari keluarga angkatan laut ini hijrah ke Istanbul dan mengembangkan minat yang besar pada sejarah Turki: selama bertahun-tahun, ia bertualang ke seluruh kawasan Mediterania dan mendalami pengetahuan geografi dan masa lalu wilayah ini. Beberapa tahun tera
Nov 20, 2007 Bizzaro! rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NOV. 19th, 2007: Finished the book and am now reading through all the sources and such. Sorta like extras on a good DVD. I wish I had a real work ethic. I'd turn this into an epic graphic novel and then a few years later get it turned into the most gigantic epic battle movie. It'd be like LOTR without having to tolerate those stupid elves! For all the history lovers but I think this book is written in a friendly enough voice, that it can read almost as a piece of fiction. Almost.
It's fascinating
Michael S.
Mar 10, 2009 Michael S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians, general readers
Recommended to Michael S. by: Borders bookstore find
Crowley's narration of the events surrounding the final days of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire makes an excellent primary case for 6 A.M. (GMT+2), May 29th, 1453 as the firm, bright, dividing line between "Classical Antiquity" and "Modern History". Part war story, part sociological analysis, 1453 is one of the infrequent mass-marketed history books that truly deserves wide circulation among lay and professional readers.

An interesting exposition of the fall of the original "Big Apple", the
Mar 24, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I would give this book 4.5 stars if I could. Crowley's book is a fast read with a lot of action. Much of it alternately reminded me of the movie "high noon" or the Lord of the Ring. The Byzantine emperor sought in vain for help from the Western world (except for some hardy bands of Italians, Venetians, and Catalans). With better than 10:1 odds in favor of the Ottomans, the outcome was almost a forgone conclusion. I am not sure I buy the author's assertion that battle for Constantinople could hav ...more
May 22, 2015 Nemalevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than Troy

Rare case when you actually glimpse the wheels of history turn. The best siege story I've ever read. Fascinating reading.
This book more-or-less delivers what it promises: an account of the siege and fall of Constantinople in 1453. Due to the limits of historical record it is understandably told primarily from a few sources (mainly those of the defenders) a shortcoming the author acknowledges. Its a fine book for what its worth, written in clear prose. As all reviews are somewhat subjective I must confess that I found it to be lacking in some way....perhaps in "urgency." Nonetheless, its an important book for histo ...more
Micah Martin
May 29, 2013 Micah Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a clear, concise, and even-handed account of one of history's most famous sieges. crowley manages to be elegiac without dipping into speculation, and his study of Mehmed's illness and decline in the confines of the Topkapi Palace is a poignant parallel to the illusion of imperial stability cultivated by the Ottomans and other great powers throughout human history. with so many Islamophobic pundits and problematic East/West narratives floating around out there, Crowley, a scholar of integrity, is ...more
Mar 03, 2016 Anatolikon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book several months ago. I waited until I had read Runciman's work, the standard book on the siege, to review this one. This seemingly forgotten book is a surprisingly good read. Although Crowley is not a historian and has a slight Turkish apologetic slant, the narrative of the actual siege is far better than Runciman's. He still believes the old myth that Greek fire was used in 1453, and much of his narrative of the events in the Turkish camp are pure speculation, and this is where ...more
Trisarahtops Sparkle
This is a great book if you're interested in getting a very general idea of where the conflict between Christians and Muslims originated. The fight for Constantinople was absolutely vicious... I have to say, however, there was one part that really, REALLY bothered me. In his narrative he describes how the Moslems tried repeatedly to rip the city from the hands of the Christians- even going so far as to bring seeds to plant for crops. Hundreds of thousands of men died beneath the walls, dozens of ...more
Mar 25, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Decent background, competent but not inspired prose.

As for the history, my biggest complaint is that Crowley's sketches of the personalities involved in 1453 are sufficient for his purposes, but not robust or particularly memorable.

Now and then I can't suppress a suspicion that Crowley really sympathizes with the Ottomans and dislikes Christian Constantinople: he's choosy about which details he includes from his sources, emphasizing for instance the religious tolerance of Mehmet's army but givi
Callum Soukup-Croy
Feb 29, 2016 Callum Soukup-Croy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Crowley has written several excellent works on Mediterranean history and his depiction of the Ottoman siege of Constantinople is of a similar standard. Other books on this topic may have given themselves over to lengthy preambles covering decades or centuries of warfare whilst skimming on the main event but Crowley sticks to the necessities. In the first chapters of the book the reader is given an understanding of the roots and reasons for the rivalry between the Ottoman and Byzantine empires an ...more
Dvd (buonanotte popolo)
scorrevole, coinvolgente, estremamente ben documentato. La prosa qualche volta si incarta un poco, con periodi che si riesce a decifrare dopo alcune letture (colpa forse della traduzione); nel complesso, tuttavia, si scorre benissimo, come di tradizione nella storiografia anglosassone.

Il saggio è il resoconto di un pugno di giorni fra i più importanti della storia d'Europa, ossia quelli che ruotano intorno alla caduta di COstantinopoli (29 maggio 1453) per mano dei turchi ottomani. La prima part
Will S
Mar 11, 2016 Will S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-war
Masterfully well written and researched. Crowley tells a vivid story drawing heavily from primary source documents, and highlights many of the incredibly interesting and riveting sub-plots that were part of the greater drama of the seven week siege. Despite having a decent bit of background knowledge, and knowing the outcome of the story before I opened the book, I was hanging on every word as the action unfolded. I learned quite a bit, and while Crowley focuses primarily on the seven weeks of t ...more
Abraham Gustavson
I read this book during my spring holiday in Istanbul. I hiked the Theodosian Walls and gazed up at the dome of the Hagia Sophia. But Roger Crowley's book on Constantinople brought me closer to Byzantium than most of the major sites. Crowley is able to make this book personal. You can feel like as they entered the city after months of siege. You can feel the death of Constantine XI at the wall. You appreciate the Ottoman war machine. You curse Genoa and Venice for not reliving the ailing city. Y ...more
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How Istanbul go its name 1 29 Dec 30, 2007 02:18PM  
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Roger Crowley was born in 1951 and spent part of his childhood in Malta. He read English at Cambridge University and taught English in Istanbul, where he developed a strong interest in the history of Turkey. He has traveled widely throughout the Mediterranean basin over many years and has a wide-ranging knowledge of its history and culture. He lives in Gloucestershire, England.
More about Roger Crowley...

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