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The Great Siege: Malta 1565 [Paperback]

Ernle Bradford
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3 2010
Suleiman the Magnificent, the most powerful ruler in the world, was determined to conquer Europe. Only one thing stood in his way: a dot of an island in the Mediterranean called Malta, occupied by the Knights of St. John, the cream of the warriors of the Holy Roman Empire. A clash of civilizations was shaping up the likes of which had not been seen since Persia invaded Greece. Determined to capture Malta and use its port to launch operations against Europe, Suleiman sent an armada and an overwhelming army. A few thousand defenders in Fort St. Elmo fought to the last man, enduring cruel hardships. When they captured the fort the Turks took no prisoners and mutilated the defenders' bodies. Grand Master La Vallette of the Knights reciprocated by decapitating his Turkish prisoners and using their heads to cannonade the enemy. Then the battle for Malta began in earnest: no quarter asked; none given. The Siege of Malta is not merely a gripping tale of brutality, courage, and tenacity, but the saga of two mighty civilizations struggling for domination of the known world.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Did Hollywood Miss This One! June 20 2000
If you like such movies as "BRAVEHEART", "BEN-HUR" and "ZULU!", this book is for you; I couldn't put it down. Although written in the early 1960's, it remains THE landmark work on the Great Siege. The author paints such incredibly vivid pictures of the principal actors, the period and the heroic battle actions that he brings the Siege to life. While the book is a bit short on specific details for the serious historian, it more than compensates for this with its crisp, almost electric pace and non-stop action. Indeed a 1999 retelling of the Siege showed clear tribute to Bradford by aping his prose, but the result was a clumsy, ham-handed effort. Stick with this one - the original - and you won't go wrong. This is storytelling at its finest.
For those with a little imagination, "The Great Siege" will be the best war movie you'll never see. Whether you like fiction or history, this book is sure to please.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Nov. 23 2002
An epic tale accurately told with recounting based on manuscripts and diaries of those there, interspersed with the tales from the natives, lightly spiced with the author's understanding of life at that time, so it all comes together in a fascinating true story of the Muslem forces of Suleyman the Magnificent setting out in great strength to seize the island of Malta, in order to establish a base in the western Mediterrainian, with the purpose of pushing his empire up into the underside of Europe. The island is held by The Knights of St. John, the Hospitallers, honest-to-goodness knights in shinning armour, who carry one of the hands of the disciple John with them as a divine relic.
The story is Muslem against Christian, both dedicated to fight to the death, the attackers in flowing robes that caught fire easily when the defenders, who were wearing armour and chain mail in sweltering heat and sun, rolled hoops of fire into their midst. It is seige warfare, psychological warfare, religion vs religion, men vs men, and men vs germs. Polictical betrayal, bravery, heroics, bad strategys and brilliant tactics.
The author has done excellent research, the core of the book is a scholarly work with references and sources, but done in such a way as to become a great story, not a boring read. Brings it all to life and death, an easy and interesting read at 232 pages of story. This is not just for military history buffs, but for anyone who likes a good story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating! Dec 27 2001
First of all, I must confess to you that I normally do not read military history or battlefield stories. A book about one of the most life-changing historical events on a 122-square mile island nation in the Mediterranean Sea may be important to people on Malta, but not me. Except that I went to Malta for a vacation and was given a copy of the book by another traveler who had just finished it. "Good book," he proclaimed, so I started reading.
I couldn't put the book down. I hungrily read chapter after chapter. The tale of how the Knights of St. John defended this strategically important island from the onslaught of a Turkish force was fascinating. The Turks in the 1500s were a powerful nation whose dominance spread far and wide. The Knights of St. John held the island of Malta, strategically positioned to enable the Sultan to conquer Europe. Interstingly, the clash also pitted Moslems against Christians in a struggle that even has relevance to current events.
A huge force of 200 ships and 40,000 men attempted to overthrow the Knights of St. John whose force numbered about 9,600. The naval and ground battles, the heroism, the strategy, and all the stories leap off the pages. The author brings this centuries-old historical event to life, based on historical research that presents facts and figures which support the story he tells. This is a masterpiece.
Yes, it should be a movie--to rival Ben Hur and a few other box office hits. It is said that to be successful, every movie must have strong characters, violence, and sex. No sex in these pages, but the strong characters and their heroic feats will hold your attention from cover to cover.
Suggestion: go to a web site where you can view a map of Malta to understand the relative position of the locations described so vividly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Fiction June 1 2000
This historical narrative could not have been better if someone was making up the story. Two seventy-year-old soldiers square off in one of the most statigic battles in history (Soleman of the Turks and La Valett of the Knights of Malta). The overwhelming power of the Ottoman Turks (30,000 troops) is brought to bear against 9,000 Knights and Maltese troops. What should have been a two-week route of the Knights turned into a four-month route of the Turks. This is a page-turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Determined Attack, Dauntless Defense June 16 2004
In the mid 1500's the Ottoman Turk Suleiman the Magnificent was a septagenarian, but he still was the most powerful ruler in the world. He had carved out an empire in the Middle East, and he wanted to expand it into Europe.
A small group of men on a miniscule island in the Mediterranean didn't exactly stand in his way, but they were a bloody nuisance. They were the Knights of St. John of the Hospital, a relic of the Crusades. Driven from the Holy Land, they had settled in Rhodes and become pirates preying on Moslem shipping. The Turks had twice beseiged Rhodes and finally driven out the pesky Knights, but the Knights took refuge on Malta and continued to be a thorn in Suleiman's flesh.
Suleiman decided to destroy them, capture Malta, and use its port as a base of operations against Europe. He sent an armada and an army to do the job, and a few thousand defenders faced off against tens of thousands of invaders.
The Turks decided to capture the harbor first so that their ships would have a safe haven against possible storms. A small fort called Fort St. Elmo stood in their way. They figured they could overwhelm the Fort in less than a week, occupy the harbor, and the rest of the island would soon fall to their attack.
When we think of famous last stands, we think of the Alamo and Thermopylae. The Spartans withstood the Persians for 3 days at Thermopylae. The Texans withstood the Mexicans for 13 at the Alamo. Fort St. Elmo stood for an entire month before it finally succumbed. The defenders of Fort St. Elmo fought stubbornly and to the last man, enduring unimaginable hardship, and they wrought terrible slaughter on the Turks.
When the fort fell, the Turks took no prisoners and mutilated the bodies of the fallen defenders.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written.
Published 21 days ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 'true adventure' story
I read this first when still a late teenager. It is a truly remarkable account of a watershed in European history marking, effectively the point at which the Ottoman control of the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by James White
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Piece of History That Is Still Relevant Today
This is an excellent audio book of a book originally published in 1961 by British historian Ernle (pronounced Ern-Lee) Bradford about the Ottoman attack on the island of Malta in... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mark Anderson
2.0 out of 5 stars wow.
wow. i read the great siege for a critical book review in world history class, and it sure was boring. it may have been the worst book i have skimmed, ever. Read more
Published on March 15 2004 by devin
5.0 out of 5 stars The siege that halted the advancement of the Ottoman Empire
In the spring of 1565, two great armies met on the battlefield of an island in the heart of the Mediterranean. This war came to be known as the Great Siege of Malta. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2002 by Jonathan Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Siege = great story!
Great Siege: Malta 1565 is simply one of the those books you cannot put down. The pace is frenetic. It gallops the entire way through. Malta, the home of the Knights of St. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2002 by nto62
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning read, brilliant story, absolutely compelling!
I just don't know how this story has escaped the clutches of Hollywood. The Great Siege of Malta has to be one of the most amazing conflicts of military history. Read more
Published on June 11 2001 by Sailoil
5.0 out of 5 stars ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION
Published on March 4 2001 by DEREK MCMILLAN
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