Book details

The Enemy at the Gate

Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe

By Andrew Wheatcroft

About the Book

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 seventeenth-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.

About the Author

Andrew Wheatcroft is Professor of International Publishing and Communication and Director of the Centre for Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. He is the author of Infidels, The Habsburgs, and The Ottomans, and has been researching the material for The Enemy at the Gate for more than twenty years. He lives in Scotland.


Victor Davis Hanson, First Things
“Wheatcroft offers a riveting account of the slow, methodical Ottoman approach to Vienna…. [A] masterful account of the siege and battle.”

Michigan War Studies Review
“Wheatcroft displays exceptional awareness of the power of the printed word not only to crystallize and reproduce specific facts or news for a mass audience, but to preserve and especially propagate a particular opinion of a given subject. Throughout, he strives to distinguish between the actual siege of Vienna in 1683 and the one preserved in the Western imagination, noting print’s power to distort and undervalue the humanity of the Ottoman Turks.”

“Wheatcroft’s real contribution is his illustration of complex Ottoman administrative and military structures. In fact, the book reveals these to have been a main source of Ottoman power; not, as many have suggested, the provocation of fear through terror or oriental savagery. Wheatcroft also adeptly addresses important historiographical questions about Ottoman decline, the dangers of over-reliance on secondary source materials, syncretism of nomadic steppe tradition with Islamic values, and fine contrasts between Ottoman and European military techniques.”

New York Times Book Review
“As Andrew Wheatcroft brilliantly shows in The Enemy at the Gate, 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…. [H]is narrative is thrilling as well as thoughtful, a rare combination.”