The Shield and the Sword (Penguin Classic Military History) Paperback – 7 Feb 2002
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About the Author
Ernle Bradford is a former Royal Navy officer and the the author of The Great Siege, The Mediterranean published in Classic Penguin History and Cleopatra published in Classic Penguin Biography.
Top customer reviews
It details the order's foundation and early experiences in the Holy Land where it began life as a hospice for pilgrims before developing a more military function as it was granted a series of fortifications to hold against the enemies of Christ. It describes its continued development and flourishing on Rhodes with the siege of Rhodes in 1480 afforded good coverage before its traumatic departure in 1522. It goes on to describe the order's arrival on Malta in 1530 and its departure from Malta in 1798 following the arrival of a French fleet commanded by Napoleon.
The structure of the narrative is chronological with some diversions to describe medical developments and advances in weaponry. It lacks academic rigour of more scholarly accounts but provides a useful and enjoyable introduction to a fascinating subject. The style is pleasing and engaging.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Although much of Bradford's book is common knowledge for the medieval historian it is easy to read, comprehend, and very concise. However, as one reads the text many editorial errors appear especially on page 47 which become annoying. The text has no illustrations or maps which is inconvenient and hampers the understanding of the reader, especially for the reader who has not been to the places mentioned. However, the appendices in the back of the text are very helpful and particularly the military glossary is much appreciated.
This is a very inspiring book of an organization originally created to minister to the infirmity of humanity that continues to this day. Its added militarization in the 12th century provides for a wonderful intriguing and unique story. This would be a more effective work with the incorporation of illustrations and I would readily volunteer to do such in a new edition.
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