Victory of the West by Niccolo Capponi

Victory of the West: The Story of the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolo Capponi is an in-depth look at the pivotal naval battle between the Christian Holy League, a collection of Western European states, and the Ottoman Empire.


The book generally covers the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s and the response from the West to the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.  In this chronological discussion, Capponi describes the designs of ships in the Mediterranean and the usual battle tactics used with these vessels.  In addition, Capponi details the numerous people, both Western and Ottoman, who influenced not only the battle, but also the internal affairs of all the Mediterranean powers.


Capponi, a military and Renaissance historian, brings his great amount of knowledge to the study of this important battle.  The battle essentially stopped the Ottoman naval encroachment on the West.  Capponi explains the events leading up to and including the battle in a way that a lay reader can understand.  For example, her explains the different forms of galleys, levantinas and ponentinas, in the simplest of terms.


Capponi also supports his work with an enormous amount of primary and secondary sources – quoting from printed diaries, letters, and other papers.  He also includes several tables to illustrate his points.  For example, he has two tables comparing the composition of crews in Western galleys from two time periods to prove that convicts and slaves became more important in the galleys as time progressed.


Although there is enormous amount information to read through, Capponi organizes it in the best possible way.  He includes a glossary of terms and a list of personalities involved in the action – these come in handy as you maneuver your way through the story.  Even with the list of personalities, it was a little difficult to keep everyone straight in my mind.


This is an excellent work that deals with one of history’s pivotal naval battles.

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