Monday 17 July 2023

Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know - Michael D. Greaney

Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know
ISBN 9781505110203
eISBN 9781505110210

Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know Michael D. Greaney

This is another volume I read as part of the Goodreads Catholic Book Club Book of the Month.  I am thankful I did. It has been on my ‘to be read list’ for a while and have even had a recent plug from Declan Finn, when he found out I read and reviewed Nonfiction as well as fiction. I read the volume over many days reading the introduction and then about a battle a day. A number of the battles I had previously covered in History or Church History courses in University. But reading them in this volume was a much more in-depth look at the personalities, the process and the causes of the outcomes. The description of this volume states:

“Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know offers readers richly detailed accounts of pivotal engagements—many little known in the West—in the centuries-long defense of Christendom against militant Islam. Join military historian Michael D. Greaney as, in gripping prose, he describes the struggle, primarily on Christendom’s eastern borders, against the dreaded Ottoman Turks in places such as:

• Manzikert, which marked the beginning of the fight,
• Wallachia, where Vlad II, the real “Dracula”, carried out a personal crusade against the Turks to such good effect that his name strikes terror down to the present day,
• Mohács, “the Tomb of Hungary,”
• Vienna (the siege of 1529), the first setback experienced by Süleymân the Magnificent, perhaps the greatest ruler the Ottoman Turks ever knew,
• Szigetvár (known as the “Hungarian Alamo”),
• …and five others.

The accounts of battles are enlivened and expanded with historical footnotes and introductions. Though less well known than the struggle to retake Spain and Southern France, the battlefields of Armenia and Eastern and Central Europe were just as crucial to preserve Christendom. Includes 12 battle maps."

The chapters and sections in this volume are:

Publisher’s Introduction
1.Manzikert (1071)
     The Dreadful Day
     Historical Note: The First Crusader
2.Wallachia (1462)
     Vlad’s Crusade
     Historical Note: Reality to Myth
3.Mohács (1526)
     The Tomb of Hungary
     Historical Note: Süleymân’s Shadow
4.Vienna (1529)
     The Sultan’s Breakfast
     Historical Note: Dirt Cheap
5.Malta I (1565)
     Saint Elmo’s Fire
     Historical Note: Peregrini
6.Malta II (1565)
     Saint Elmo’s Pay
     Historical Note: Through the Gates of Bliss
7.Szigetvár (1566)
     The Hungarian Alamo
     Historical Note: Armored Infantry
8.Nicosia (1570)
     The Logic of Conquest
     Historical Note: “A Little of the ’71”
9.Famagusta (1570–71)
     The Martyrdom of Bragadino
     Historical Note: Collaboration or Accommodation?
10.Lepanto I (1571)
      “That Prodigious Battle”
     Historical Note: The Galley in Warfare
11.Lepanto II (1571)
     Our Lady of Victory
     Historical Note: Crown of Roses
12.Khotin (1621)
     Beginning of the End
     Historical Note: The Winged Horsemen
Select Bibliography
Byzantium and the Crusades
The Ottomans
The Mediterranean and Southern Europe
Central and Eastern Europe

I only highlighted a few passages while reading this volume. And they are all before the first battle. Once I was reading the battles it was so gripping I did not want to slow down and highlight. Maybe on the next read through. The few passages I did highlight are:

“AS George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Few these days, however, even learn enough of the past to remember anything in the first place; cultural illiteracy is almost universal in the West. Consequently, many people are stuck in what Santayana called the “perpetual infancy” of failing to know either where they came from or where they are going.”

“Much of the blame for this can be placed squarely on academia, which long ago drifted away from education into job training, and has now degenerated from job training into babysitting. Safe spaces take the place of discussions and debates, while new ideas are rejected as micro-aggressions forced on others with trigger words, a statue, or even a funny look or two.”

“No doubt a large part of the problem is that what passes for history these days bears very little resemblance to what actually happened. Nor does it fit into any perspective other than a vague liberal agenda and the cause du jour.”

“The aim of this book is to tell the story of the struggle between the Ottoman Turks and the forces of Christendom. Covering the centuries-long war against militant Islam—as personified by the Grand Turk—from the Dreadful Day of Manzikert in 1071, climaxing in the battle of Lepanto in 1571 half a millennium later, to the beginning of the final decline with the siege of Khotim in 1622, Ten Battles Every Catholic Should Know presents key battles that marked turning points. Less well known than the struggle to retake Spain and Southern France, the battlefields of Armenia and eastern and central Europe were just as crucial to preserve Christendom.”

This book was so hard to put down. Once you get going you will just want to keep reading and reading. Greaney writes in a very engaging manner. He provides both the what, but also the why and how of these specific battles. He also indicates some key points where if things had been done differently the outcome would have been drastically different. This is a history book that readers from high school on will love. 

I have read much about this period of history at university and for personal reading. This is an excellent volume. And one I can easily recommend. It goes into a lot of details but in a very engaging way. It could easily be used as an academic text or supplemental reading. Or Picked up and enjoyed by an amateur historian or church history buff. I had this book on my radar for a few years and really wish I had read it earlier. So don’t make my mistake pick this up and give it a read. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Michael D. Greaney:
Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen: A Just Free Market Solution for Saving Social Security
Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland
Economic Personalism: Power, Property and Justice for Every Person
In Defense of Human Dignity
So Much Generosity
Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda
The Greater Reset: Reclaiming Human Sovereignty Under Natural Law
The Political Animal: Economic Justice and the Sovereignty of the Human Person
The Restoration of Property: A Reexamination of a Natural Right

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