This week’s Staff Pick is Roger Crowley’s Empires of the Sea: the Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World. With a sharp sense of pacing and clear prose, Crowley tells the story of the struggle between two Mediterranean Sea powers and their allies during the 16th century. The first is the Spanish Empire, recently in the ascendant due to its New World conquests and military prowess. The second, the Ottoman Empire, a military and administrative titan since its capture of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453. This struggle culminates with the massive siege of Malta and, six years later, the naval battle of Lepanto (still one of the largest naval battles in history). Crowley doesn’t get bogged down with excessive detail or research throughout the book, favoring instead a driving story arch that almost reads like fiction. The author also has a talent for seamlessly placing primary sources (eyewitness and contemporary accounts) into the story. Because of its brisk pace, focused scope, and expertly crafted narrative, I highly recommend Empires of the Sea for any history fan.
This book is part of a four book series by Roger Crowley about Mediterranean Sea Empires during the Early Modern Era. These are also highly recommended if this topic interests you (or if you’re just looking to read solid nonfiction). They are:
Thanks for reading!