The Enemy at the Gate

  • by Andrew Wheatcroft
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • 11 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 17th-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 cannons, and showered the populace with arrows during the battle for Christianity's bulwark. Each side was sustained by the hatred of its age-old enemy, certain that victory would be won by the grace of God. The Great Siege of Vienna is the centerpiece for historian Andrew Wheatcroft's richly drawn portrait of the centuries-long rivalry between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires for control of the European continent. A gripping work by a master historian, The Enemy at the Gate offers a timely examination of an epic clash of civilizations.

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What the Critics Say

"This is not a work of popular history for the casual reader, but scholars and students of history would benefit greatly from this well-researched account of 17th-century Ottoman-Hapsburg political power." (School Library Journal)
"Wheatcroft offers an outstanding blow-by-blow description of the siege, which in the end was decided through a combination of luck and several critical Ottoman blunders." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent work

1683: The long clash between the Austrian Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire comes to a head outside of Vienna, as the Turks and their allies attempt to capture the city for the second time.

This book chronicles the events leading up to the bloody confrontation, as well as the details of the campaigns that followed.

The author lays out the events in an extremely unbias, academic, format and does not "whitewash" any event within. The narrative is excellent, this is easily the best account of this era that I have read.
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- Shaun

An Absorbing Clash of Cultures and an Epic Siege

I really liked listening to Andrew Wheatcroft???s The Enemy at the Gate, about the long conflict between the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires (and hence between Islam and Christianity and East and West), as read by Stefan Rudnicki (with his warm bass voice, gravitas, and enunciation). Even though I vaguely knew the outcome of big battles like the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 (from other histories and Wheatcroft???s foreshadowing), the events, told so vividly, were suspenseful.

In the first section of his book, Wheatcroft sets up the historical, political, and cultural background of the siege of Vienna and sketches the personalities and motivations of its key figures. He depicts the siege and its aftermath in the second and third sections. He recounts the errors, prejudices, and admirable points of both Ottoman and Hapsburg cultures and individuals, including frequent atrocities, rare mercies, and inevitable glorifications of their heroes. The details about the changing nature of Ottoman and Hapsburg warfare from the Middle Ages into the 18th century (weapons, artillery, fortifications, tactics, chains of command, supply, morale, and so on) are fascinating (if you like military history). Sipahis and hussars, janissaries and pikemen, pashas and colonels, miners and engineers??? And the etymology of grenade.

The conflict between the rival cultures who demonized each other and learned from each other sheds light on today???s world. The coda of the book, in which Wheatcroft explains how the biased and distorted visions of the past are still affecting us today (as in the feeling of many Europeans--like Cardinal Ratzinger--that Turkey should be kept out of the EU lest the heroic feats of the defenders of Vienna in 1683 be in vain), is powerful.

This book would be of most interest to fans of military history, but should also be heard by anyone who wants to know more about how the Eastern Islamic and Western Christian worlds came to feel the way they do about each other today.
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- Jefferson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-30-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios