The time is ripe for books retelling the history of the poor relations between the Muslim world and the West. Confrontation at Lepanto retells a key battle in that conflict.
In 1570, the Ottoman Empire amassed a huge fleet with one goal in mind - total domination of the Mediterranian Sea. The fleet raided European shipping, and their corsairs especially drew the ire of the Venetians, whose economic stability was dependant upon naval trade with the other European nations.
All of Europe knew something had to be done, but it wasn't until the Turks sacked Famagusta (and broke their agreement with the Venetians by slaughtering the survivors and torturing the commander of the forces there) that the European nations started to band together. They reformed the Holy League to meet the Muslim forces and put an end to their designs on the Mediterranian.
But these new Crusaders were far from united. Disagreements over strategy almost doomed the European cause to failure, until the Don Juan de Austria, commander of the Holy League navy, ordered a full-out assault on the Ottoman navy at Lepanto. It was clear to both sides as the battle started that the winner would dominate Mediterranian trade for decades to come.
Hopkins avoids the "holy war" aspects of Lepanto, while still remaining faithful to the religious motivations on both sides. Instead, the book focuses on social, political, and especially economic motivations for the conflict on both sides.
We read of the intrigue in European courts, as monarchs posture to turn success AND failure to their advantage. We see the individual personalities involved in the battle, from the commander Don Juan de Austria and Giannandrea Doria to a sailor named Miguel Cervantes. The book is an excellent overview of the battle.
That said, I ended up with a lot of questions that I wish had been covered, even in an introductory work. Hopkins mentions at one point that Cosimo de Medici was persuaded by the Pope to sponsor an order of knights for those who defended Christians at sea, but the name of that order is never given (it's the Order of St. Stephen). And I thought that the religious aspects of the fight against the Turks were not given the attention that they deserve. But Confrontation at Lepanto does provide a quality introductory work that leaves room for further reading and research.