The Ottoman Age of Exploration

  • by Giancarlo Casale
  • Narrated by James Adams
  • 11 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim "the Grim" conquered Egypt and brought his empire for the first time in history into direct contact with the trading world of the Indian Ocean. During the decades that followed, the Ottomans became progressively more engaged in the affairs of this vast and previously unfamiliar region, eventually to the point of launching a systematic ideological, military and commercial challenge to the Portuguese Empire, their main rival for control of the lucrative trade routes of maritime Asia.
The Ottoman Age of Exploration is the first comprehensive historical account of this century-long struggle for global dominance, a struggle that raged from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Malacca, and from the interior of Africa to the steppes of Central Asia.
Based on extensive research in the archives of Turkey and Portugal, as well as materials written on three continents and in a half dozen languages, it presents an unprecedented picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state during the 16th century. It does so through a dramatic recounting of the lives of sultans and viziers, spies, corsairs, soldiers-of-fortune, and women from the imperial harem. Challenging traditional narratives of Western dominance, it argues that the Ottomans were not only active participants in the Age of Exploration, but ultimately bested the Portuguese in the game of global politics by using sea power, dynastic prestige, and commercial savoir faire to create their own imperial dominion throughout the Indian Ocean.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating History-- keep a map handy

This book gives a fascinating account of the Ottoman political maneuvers in the 16th century Indian Ocean. It gave me a new perspective on events as diverse as the rise of Emperor Akbar in India and the sinking of the Spanish Armada. It's piqued my interest in Yemen and Gujarat in particular.

If you are not familiar with the geography of the Indian Ocean, you will probably end up like me, poring over maps for hours after listening. My own ignorance of the region and of Ottoman history made this book more challenging to listen to than most of the audiobooks I have finished. I had to rewind and relisten to many parts in order to make sure I understood just what the sequence of events was.

Overall I enjoyed it very much. I have given it 3 stars for story just because it is not a breezy listen the way some books are.
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- Colin

Ottomans in the Indian Ocean

In many ways this book reads like a textbook but it is highly readable. The news from the Middle East recently triggered me to learn more about the history of the area. Giancarlo Casale, a professor of history, proceeds chronologically, weaving together political and intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire throughout the 16th Century. He focuses on a number of high officials among them were the Grand Viziers Ibrahim Pasha, Hadim Suleiman Pasha, Rustem Pasha, the one Grand Vizier opposed to the whole Indian Ocean enterprise, and Sokolla Mehmed Pasha, probably the strongest supporter. They were aware of what advantage a strong Ottoman presence in the Indian Ocean could be to the profitable Spice trade. The Ottoman controlled the area from the Red Sea to Atjeh in Sumatra. In response to the Portuguese global claims the Ottoman declared that the Sultan was the “Caliph of all Muslims”. The Caliphate united all Muslims under the same religious authority, much as the Papacy did for Christendom. The author shows that shifting priorities and bitter personal rivalries at the Ottoman court hampered the development of a long term global policy. Slowly the conviction grew that tax income from land was preferable to the profits made from the government controlled spice trade.

Casale’s aim is to show the achievements of the “Ottoman age of exploration” not only the military and commercial but the intellectual and political ones. He does so in a convincing manner, making both sides, the Ottoman and the Portuguese, come alive in their negotiations, their self views and perception of their opponent. The book is well researched. Casale speaks Turkish, Portuguese and Italian, enabling him to consult all the relevant archives and secondary literature. James Adams narrated the book. I would have given this book a 3 1/2 , there is no halves so I rounded it up.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-24-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios