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Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-1943 Hardcover – 31 Mar 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; 1st Edition edition (31 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752852884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752852881
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'At least three books have recently been published on Malta's war years. The best of them all is James Holland's Fortress Malta....highly recommended' (GUARDS MAGAZINE )

'A most useful item in the book is the postscript which details what happended to the individuals after the siege ended. To generations who come later this book amply illustrates the dangers, difficulties and in some cases sheer terror when in combat' (RTR PUBLICATIONS )

A

Book Description

The extraordinary drama of Malta's WWII victory against impossible odds told through the eyes of the people who were there.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the best military history book to be published since (and I'd rank it right up there with) last year's "An Army At Dawn" by Rick Atkinson. High praise, indeed, since that book won a Pulitzer Prize. If you've read the Atkinson book, you'll find that "Fortress Malta" complements it nicely, since both books end with the Allies poised for the invasion of Sicily. Mr. Holland, to judge by his photo on the dustjacket, looks to be still in his twenties.(This is his first book.) If he is indeed that young, that makes this book even more of an accomplishment. The quality of the writing and the way the book is structured demonstrate a great deal of skill and maturity. This is because the author has a lot of balls to juggle: he has to tell us about the aerial war; the surface naval battles; the submarine war; strategy and tactics, etc. This part of the story is well-told: there are many exciting sequences dealing with dogfights and convoys being stalked by submarines. But what elevates the book to the superior level is Mr. Holland's ability to bring home to us the human element. We get to know a lot of the pilots and submariners as real people- quirks and all. (Two people who "leap out" from the pages are Adrian Warburton and George "Screwball" Beurling. Warburton, despite being a reconnaissance pilot, managed the rare feat of becoming an "ace"- which means he shot down at least 5 planes. He was unorthodox. He once flew over Sicily to take some photographs, then made an unauthorized side trip to Greece to pick up some booze for the boys back at the base. He got away with such behaviour because he always got his photographs- no matter what. Beurling was the highest scoring Allied ace of the war, with over 30 confirmed kills, with an incredible 4 in one day.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I normally choose to read novels but during the past year I have also read three books about the Second World War : "Stalingrad" by Anthony Beevor, "A Bridge Too Far" by Cornelius Ryan, and now "Fortress Malta". The biggest compliment I can pay to "Fortress Malta" is that although the other two books have received much deserved praise, in my opinion "Fortress Malta" is the best of the three.
It tells the story of Malta's war from the moment Italy entered the war in the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1943 by which time Rommell had been defeated in North Africa and the Allies were preparing to invade Sicily.
Throughout the book the reader is kept informed of the events in Malta and their relationship to the rest of the War. But the thing that makes this book outstanding is the way the author introduces a wide range of characters : civilian workers, fighter pilots, nurses, sub-mariners etc. and tells the story of their lives.
I found "Fortress Malta" fascinating and each evening when I got home from work I couldn't wait to pick up the book and find out a bit more about Frank Rixon, Nat Gold, Meme Cortes, John Agius, Ken Griffiths et al.
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Format: Hardcover
I am Maltese in my late 30s and I always remember my parents talking about the war in Malta. The subject has fascinated me since I was a teenager and I have read a lot about it. James Holland's book is undoubtedly the best one I have ever read. It is authentic and is written with the human touch - often missing in history books. I am amazed how Holland has managed to portray not only the heroism of the persons serving in the armed forces but also of the the ordinary Maltese citizens. It is a worthy tribute to the people of my country 60 years after these dramatic events - well done!
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Format: Paperback
James Holland has created aguably one of the greatest WWII books ever. His interpretation of the devastating seige upon the wonderful island of Malta during the years of 1940-1943 is a stirring and thought provoking tale.
Many colourful and forgotten characters spring to life within the pages. Holland paints a clear and vivid picture of the likes of Adrian 'Warby' Warburton, George 'Screwball' Beurling and George 'Shrimp' Simpson to name but a few.
Malta within three years became the most bombed place in the world, and within the pages of Fortress Malta you get a feel for the emotions expreienced by members of the RAF, the Navy and the citizens of Malta.
The most important aspect of the book is that Holland maintains the fact that there was always hope in this island of heroes and heroins.
If I could i would give this book more than 5 out of 5.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone with the slightest interest of the war in the Mediterranean should find this book a staggering achievement. It effortlessly combines the best elements of social and military history to provide a lucid and enthralling account of Malta's struggle to survive 1940-43. By following the lives of various people on the island we are given different perspectives of what life was like for those living through Malta's dark period of bitter struggle. I wasn't so sure that such an approach to writing history could be so rewarding for the reader, but Holland has done superb job. Not only do we get all the usual details of military problems (convoys/lack of military hardware etc..) but also the personal struggles of the pilots and ordinary folk living on the island. I knew that the people of Malta suffered terribly during the war, but this book also made me realise how remarkable their victory against overwhelming odds actually was. In retrospect Malta should have been a pushover for the Axis powers (the island was a low priority during the Battle of Britain), but the fact that it held out for so long is testimony to the strength and determination of it's people. This book is a fitting tribute to those who gave themselves to this struggle and a reminder of why the whole island was awarded the George Cross - the highest honour awarded for civilian bravery.
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