I admit up front that I do not like to read books about history, especially military history. This book, however, kept me riveted from the start. The real-life story of the Knights of Malta and some of their Grand Masters (especially the protagonist of this episode in history, Jean Parisot de la Valette), as well as the portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent and one of his famous commanders, Dragut, brought a little-known period in the history of Christendom to life for me. It inspires, and it makes one wonder: does the West still have heroes of such faith, conviction, strength and prowess as the brave men who fended off the Ottoman Turks and helped preserve Christendom in the 16th century? (The answer to me is clear, when I consider that we ourselves have been digging tunnels under our own Christendom the past 50 years so that it is falling without even a fight.)
After reading the book, I went to Malta with 2 other people who had also read the book so that we could see what this tiny Catholic country in the center of the Mediterranean, which has played such a heroic part in world history (in 1565 as well as WWII), is like. You can walk around (or boat around) all of the places where the events recounted in this book happened. The trip was a great way to top off an excellent book.
The narrator of the audiobook has a wonderful British accent. Listening to the audiobook, in addition to reading a hard copy, helped me learn how to pronounce the complicated Maltese place names. (Reportedly, Maltese is a mix of the Arabic spoken in Sicily in the 11th century, with a lot of Italian words and some English cognates.)
This book is one of the most engaging books about battle that I have ever read. It has all the drama of a epic film, the mystery of a forgotten time in history, and the inspirations that comes from brave people overcoming great difficulties.
When the Knights defending St. Elmo die knowing that no help will save them you mourn, but you also are inspired because they knew that their deaths had meaning because it meant buying time for the rest of the island of Malta.
Good book. Highly recommended.
It is riveting from start to finish. Pretty much every sentence leaves you on the edge of your seat. The battles constantly surged back and forth, but the most insignificant few yards of territory were enough to defeat an empire that was poised to take over the known world.
Seriously? No other book in my nearly 500 would qualify.
You can't really name a scene as this was just one big flowing battle all the way through. The audacity of sneaking reinforcements into a nearly flattened fortress was one of those things that you would never think of doing, but I don't want to give anything away, so read the book.
If you crave excitement, want personalities to admire, love history, want to know facts that no one else does, or just revel in the strength of will on one side and the religious fanaticism on the other, then this book will not let you down.
This is one of the most enlightening books on not just a phenomenal piece of military history but a segue into understanding much of the conflict that is going on in the middle east today. Would recommend without hesitation!!!!
A must for those who like the genre and also an interesting moment in European history
Historic, epic, engrossing
Simon Vance's delivery brings the weight of history to this under-told event. You are immersed by his speech but never overwhelmed and never, never bored. Minor details become as vibrant as the battles themselves in his capable narration.
Yes, yes and again yes.
Published in 1961, this history of the Turkish invasion on Malta and its epic defense by the Knights of St John is a truly fine historical account. Six hundred years after the events, it is still a stirring account of heroism, devotion and courage.