Book Recommendation: Constantinople, Roger Crowley


Hello everyone! I know it has been a very long time since I posted anything here, and I apologize. The last month has been fairly busy, but now that that is over I hope to get regular (and longer, after this one) posts up once again. Today’s post, however, will be a book recommendation. This time, it is for Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453, by Roger Crowley. Crowley, educated at Cambridge, has written a number of books, primarily focused around the Mediterranean world.

Constantinople is a wonderful example of a good history book, and it shares several key characteristics with others of its ilk. For one, it is easily readable and fairly short; though this is by no means necessary for a history book, if you have grown tired of the 1200-page tomes which have been discussed on this site in the past Constantinople, at a svelte 260 pages, may be for you. For another, it moves along quickly; the narration of Crowley is wonderful, and he certainly knows when to use more poetic language and when to revert to (excellent) prose. Finally, this book tells a story well worth knowing. If you do not know the events of 1453, I would highly recommend this book; the history of the Byzantine Empire is among the most interesting in European history, and the story of its fall perhaps even more so.

Not only is a story worth telling told in this book, but it is told well. The principal actors in the drama receive ample discussion, and a brief outline of the events preceding the siege is laid out as well, ensuring that the fairly limited scope of the book’s narration does not cause any confusion. The melancholy notes of the end of a 1000-year old empire (depending on prevailing historical opinions, as old as 2000) are not left out; nor, however, is the incipient Ottoman Empire villainized as the destroyer of Rome. In contrast, it is recognized that the Ottomans borrowed much from Rome, of which their capital was but one part.

In summation, this book is one I recommend highly; its scope is narrow, that is true, but after Europe (which I am sure you have all read by now) this may be something of a relief. 1453 is a critical time in world history; why not find out more about it? I hope you all enjoyed this post, and I look forward to returning (ideally) soon with a (hopefully) somewhat longer post. Have a wonderful day!

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