‘The Enemy at the Gate’

“The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe” is what the NYT notes as: “the skirmishes and the pitched battles that raged for centuries between Habsburgs and Ottomans, and their numerous vassals on both sides, represented not so much a “clash of civilizations” as a collision of empires.”

Authored by Andrew Wheatcroft, Booklist notes: “On the front line opposing the Ottoman advance were the forces of the polyglot Hapsburg Empire. Wheatcroft indicates that the Hapsburgs had their own particular assets, including a superbly trained infantry, and an effective, largely Polish cavalry. Relying to a large extent on contemporary Hapsburg sources, 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.”

Another point the NYT review mentions is: “The Ottomans inspired dread in their enemies; fear was part of their arsenal. But, as Wheatcroft repeatedly demonstrates, the Habsburgs were fearsome too, and perhaps even crueler than their opponents, engaging not only in full-scale massacres but in flayings, beheadings and impalements.”

Basic Books, 384 pages. Read the NYT review here.


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