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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endurance, faith, courage and great leadership
Grand Master Jean de la Valette gave his name to the capital of Malta, built to fortify the island after the Turkish invasion was repelled.
Left to stand or fall on their own by the rest of the christian world, The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem with the people of Malta put up a heroic resistance against massive odds. The turks were well led initially...
Published on 21 Feb 2004 by Clifford Matthews

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but...
Well researched, but...
The author is obviously an expert on this subject but I just could not get in to this book. I knew something of what occurred here and the history of the order so I thought this would be good. I cannot quite put my finger on it but it comes across as too dry and plain. I could not capture the scene nor the people. I like books where you can...
Published 2 months ago by D


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endurance, faith, courage and great leadership, 21 Feb 2004
Grand Master Jean de la Valette gave his name to the capital of Malta, built to fortify the island after the Turkish invasion was repelled.
Left to stand or fall on their own by the rest of the christian world, The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem with the people of Malta put up a heroic resistance against massive odds. The turks were well led initially and extremely experienced in the reduction of great cities. That they failed was due to the intelligent and tenacious leadership of Jean de la Valette and the willingness of the knights to sell their lives in a sacred cause.
Ernle Bradford has written an engaging account of the siege and one can only marvel at the courage, heroism, not to mention fanaticism displayed on both sides.
Malta was to become very important in a subsequent war and displayed the same heroism again. That it was in a position to do so was partly due to the resilience of 540 knights, some mercenaries and a few thousand Maltese.
This book is very readable. A brilliant page in history, not so well known now, but worth investigation.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We shall never take you... ", 3 July 2005
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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"The Great Siege" is a fascinating study of the events surrounding the attempt in 1565 by the Moslem Turks to conquer Malta ,drive out the Christian Knights of St John and establish an Islamic hegemony over the Mediterranean ,with a view to using the island as a base for further expansion into Southern Europe. The book is written almost in the style of a novel with the narrative unfolding around the central characters Jean de la Vallette, the Knight's Grandmaster and Mustapha Pasha, the Commander of the Turkish Army ."The Great Siege" is completely absorbing and it conveys successfully the fanaticism and heroism of the participants.I was amazed at the courage and defiance shown by the Knights and their Maltese allies as they refused to bow to the superior numbers and firepower of the Turkish invaders first at St Elmo, whose resistance was unbelievable ,then at Senglea and Birgu. For four months the Knights held on against the Turks who had thought it would have been all over within four weeks, eventually demoralising them and forcing them to return home defeated. The book gives a blow by blow account of the Siege and provides details of the strategies and tactics of the respective military commanders."The Great Siege" is a remarkable true story and, looking back, its outcome is one of the great "What If's" of history. If the Turks had taken Malta, would swathes of Southern Europe have fallen to the Moslems and led to a very different geo-political landscape than that of today ? Their defeat by "The Incredibles", La Vallette's Knights and the Maltese, stung the Turks and destroyed their aura of invincibility -and they did it on their own, with no relief from outside. "The Great Siege" is a tale of individual heroism and collective bravery, of an immense religious and cultural conflagration and of a lionhearted people preferring martyrdom and death to submission.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but read also from other sources, 1 Dec 2004
By 
Ignacio Recalde Canals (Mallorca, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This book is much better than most novels, it makes history alive and it is a delight to read. However, if it awakens your interest in sixteenth century Mediterranean history, there is a thing which is not totally correct. Bradford tells us the day-to-day story of the siege as the knights saw it. The overall strategic picture is somewhat distorted as he seems to forget that Spain was not (in fact it could not) leaving the Knights to its fate, the destiny of Western Mediterranean was at the stake. So if you are interested in what was really going on, please read "Gunpowder and Galleys" by J.F. Guilmartin. In the other hand, if what you want is more "action", go for "The two sieges of Rhodes" by Brockman and "The fall of Constantinople" by Runciman as these are the antecedents of Malta told in a really lively way.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Passionate and detailed account of the great siege, 30 Nov 1999
Ernle Bradford's book offers the classical account of the siege of Malta in English. Based on many contemporary sources (two of them written by soldiers who actually partecipated in the defence) and subsequent scholarly works, it conveys much of the atmosphere of the event, while providing with a sufficient historical background to understand the broader perspective of the war between the Knights and the Ottoman Empire. A deeper description of the arms and tactics of XVI century siege warfare would have been a useful complement to what remains, in any case, a solid survey and majour source of information for anyone interested in this interesting and fascinating event.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, 20 Nov 2003
By 
Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
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Once there was a time I did not care to much for history books and prefered fiction, but as I have grown older I find that good history, especially of monumental events far outclasses fiction, namely because in fiction the author normally focuses on a few characters and their motives can be quite shallow while in history every character once was a human being thinking for himself. So lately I read mostly military history and while many of the books I read tend to get technical or detailed there are a few that read like best fiction in the runing and smoothness of the telling of the story. Only it is better, because it was real. This is such a book.
As for the book itself, it tells of the first Great Siege of Malta (the second of course in World War II), when the Ottoman Turks, then at the peak of their powers, having layed the Eastern Arab Kingdoms at their feet and fought their way to Austria in Western Europe set their mind and resources on the last of the Crusading Orders, The Order of St. John. Where two of the times greatest military units, the Christian Knights and Janissaries, Spartan bred Turkish units met. Also you get to know many of the most influential persons of those times, of their actions and sacrifice.
In all one great read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious history brought to life in technicolour, 16 Mar 2001
By A Customer
I have read this "history" book several times and it is a fantastically thrilling and inspiring book of courage. The description of conditions and motives and tactics and character are absolutely fascinating as Bradford describes objectively the course of one of the most amazing military campaigns ever fought. Literally almost impossible to put down. Better than any fictional thriller you'll ever read. I urge you to get this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The price of victory was a high one, 28 Mar 2014
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (Paperback)
Ernle Bradford has put together the history of Malta’s 1565 siege when the island was held by the Knights of St John (Hospitallers). Originally based on Rhodes, the Knights had been divested of their home where they were both hospitallers and a mixture of religious corsairs and soldiers. Their members were made up of many national origins, “the most remarkable body of religious warriors that the world has ever seen…” Many of the Knights were French, but there were other European members, the serving brothers whose main business was military and the Magistral Knights who were nominated by the Grand Master. As the order declined in morale and power many abuses crept in, but in the 16th century when Malta came under threat they were ruled by Jean Parisot de la Valette of France. The Knights of St John had been domiciled on the island of Malta for twenty-seven years, when they came under threat from the Moslem forces led on the ground by the army of Mustapha, and at sea by Admiral Piali. Sultan Soleyman the First, also sent the corsair Dragut, a man who had laid waste of much of the Italian coastline and carried off thousands of slaves.

The attack began in May and the first objective was to destroy the castle of St Elmo. Unfortunately when Admiral Piali, in order to impress Dragut had tried to arrange an attack on St Elmo, only a few shots hit the seaward walls. Most of the cannon balls passed over the fort to fall among the Turkish forces on the other side. Nevertheless “From the moment that Dragut arrived it was clear that a coordinating brain had taken charge of the Turkish forces.”

The Turkish losses were heavy for the defenders made use of wildfire, and the firework hoop. The impact on the Moslems in their loose-flowing light robes was devastating, though it did not stop the capture of the ravelin (a counterscarp or outwork of fortifications located in front of the innerworks of a fortress). On 10 June the first great night attack of the siege took place. The Historian of the Order, Bosio commented: “During the great siege, some there were from almost every Nation who fled over to the Infidels. But of the native-born Maltese there was never a single one.”

Unfortunately names have not been passed down on paper, but the folklore exists. Men such as Toni Bajada, swimmer, horseman and something of a Mediterranean Robin Hood. The Knights were the “steel spine” of the defence, but it was on the five or six thousand Maltese men of military age, that the main defence of Malta rested.

St Elmo fell on 23 June. This small fort, which logically should have been stormed or forced to surrender within a week, was a disaster for the Turkish army. The Knights lost about 1,500 men, and most historians put the losses of the Turks at around 8,000. The Turkish forces had vastly overrated their military skills and the Knights and Maltese used a number of subterfuges to continue their defence as the battles for other Maltese strongholds continued.

Ultimately, the Turkish forces were defeated. But at what awful cost? The island was devastated. Thousands had died. It is hard to imagine the feelings of the Knights and their soldiers as they looked at what was left to them. A barren place littered with corpses. They slowly began the task of rebuilding the island. Perhaps at some point they began to rebuild their shattered lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough, 3 April 2013
I'm a reader of history but mostly modern history. I downloaded this book as I was interested in not only the era but Suleiman the Magnificent. I find it amazing that such a powerful ruler could be challenged by one small island. The history in the Mediterranean at this time is astoundingly rich, but I was most drawn in by Bradford's examination of the Knights of St. John and their role in the Holy Roman Empire. The Siege of Malta was a horrendous battle. Bradford has included amazing research that retells the brutality of what happened very well. A battle between two mighty civilizations. A book for those who love history as well as a well-told tale of battle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read..., 21 Feb 2013
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I had the paperback version of this many years ago and stupidly lent it to a friend who never returned it then lost it. I've looked for it ever since and am delighted to have found it at last. The story is so epic in every sense and the characters described so vividly that I have missed them like old friends in the intervening years.
These men were giants and the lives and the adversity they faced is astonishing but thanks to Mr Bradford not unimaginable. Told in full colour surround so you can smell the sea and the smoke this is a story that deserves to be read and reread. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I envy you reading it for the first time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A historical event, 18 Jan 2013
This fascinating history of Malta in the 15th century the siege and determination by all who were involved in defending it through the long hot suffering months of summer are quite rightly honoured and acknowledged within the Maltese records of the time. Throughout their siege and the defending of the island against Suleiman and his warriors their faith, resilience, determination and the knights of the holy orders grand master overall command and excellent skills in safeguarding this island, has gone into the history books for ever more. It will keep you turning the pages and take you on an epic journey where you feel their pain, hopelessness, courage, compassion, courage and faith to never give up hope, fight for the survival of the island, their families, homes, comrades and future. One to be recommended if you like historical history.
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The Great Siege: Malta 1565
The Great Siege: Malta 1565 by Ernle Bradford (Paperback - 3 April 2010)
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