Fortress Malta: Under Seige 1940-1943

Overview

June 11, 1940. Italian aircraft pummel the idyllic Mediterranean island of Malta. It is the first of more than three thousand raids that the island will suffer as it becomes the most bombed place on earth.

The day before, Mussolini had declared war on Britain, and in that moment, the tiny island of Malta'slightly larger than Cape Codbecame one of the most important strategic pieces of land in the world.

Today, this valiant story is largely ...

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Overview

June 11, 1940. Italian aircraft pummel the idyllic Mediterranean island of Malta. It is the first of more than three thousand raids that the island will suffer as it becomes the most bombed place on earth.

The day before, Mussolini had declared war on Britain, and in that moment, the tiny island of Malta'slightly larger than Cape Codbecame one of the most important strategic pieces of land in the world.

Today, this valiant story is largely forgotten, but James Holland offers a riveting portrait of the siege that helped determine victory or defeat in World War II. For nearly three years, Malta held the key to dominance in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Lying between Italy and Libya, Malta was the ideal place from which to attack shipping lines supplying Italian and German forces in North Africa. To save Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Middle East oil fields from Nazi control, it was essential that the island be held at all costs.

The Axis powers were equally determined to annihilate Malta. In two months aloneMarch and April 1942more bombs fell on Malta than on London during the entire Blitz. A small band of fighter pilots facing the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica; a garrison of British and American troops; and a stubborn local population refused to surrender to vastly superior forces. Despite starvation and disease, the Maltese bravely held out. Not only did they hang on, their torpedo bombers and submariners continued to sink critical amounts of Rommel's supplies. In honor of this tenacity and bravery, George VI bestowed the George Cross, the highest civilian award for valor, upon the entire island.

Fortress Malta follows the story through the eyes of individuals who were there: the pilots, submariners, soldiers, and civilians who provide the tales of heroism, resilience, love, and loss. Using interviews with survivors, letters, and diaries never-before-published, James Holland brings to life this extraordinary real-life David-and-Goliath battle in a moving, astonishing narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
James Holland has told the survivors' stories in vivid detail. — Victorino Matus
Library Journal
From crusading knights and Ottoman Turks, to Napoleon's armies, to fascist Germans and Italians, Malta has witnessed more conflict than most nations-in fact, it held the distinction of being the most frequently bombed place on earth during World War II. English journalist Holland, who has written for the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph, chronicles the nearly three-year siege of the tiny island and vital British outpost from 1940 to 1943. In that period, Malta, which served as a link between Europe and North Africa, withstood attacks by the German and Italian air forces that were often heavier, longer, and more frequent than those in the Battle of Britain. Holland opens by showing readers a Malta that is vibrant and bustling, yet woefully ill defended before ending with a country that is in ruins but undefeated, drawing on original interviews with survivors and other documents. At the same time, the author successfully puts the fate of Malta into the greater context of the Mediterranean and North African theaters. The Maltese people's stories of personal courage and suffering also shine through in Holland's superb documentation. Strongly recommended for all libraries as the most rounded account of Malta's wartime life.-Brian K. DeLuca, Avon Lake P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401351861
  • Publisher: Miramax Books
  • Publication date: 9/8/2003
  • Pages: 512

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Brief Engagement over Malta
Pt. I Under Siege from the Italians
Ch. 1 The First Day of the Siege - 11 June 1940 3
Ch. 2 Britain's Dilemma 15
Ch. 3 Faith, Hope, and Charity: June-August 1940 32
Ch. 4 Gathering Strength: September-December 1940 49
Pt. II The Arrival of the Germans
Ch. 5 The Illustrious Blitz: January 1941 73
Ch. 6 The Tightening of the Screw: January-February 1941 93
Ch. 7 Success and Failure: March-April 1941 111
Ch. 8 Valor at Sea: May 1941 133
Pt. III Respite
Ch. 9 Summer Calm: June-August 1941 157
Ch. 10 Hurting Hitler: September-December 1941 180
Pt. IV A Siege of Annihilation
Ch. 11 Kesselring Unleashes Hell: January-February 1942 203
Ch. 12 Malta Sinking: March 1942 226
Ch. 13 Death's Door: April 1942 - Part I 252
Ch. 14 George Cross Island: April 1942 - Part II 267
Ch. 15 Spitfire Victory: May 1942 284
Pt. V Courage and Fortitude
Ch. 16 The Island Starves: June-July 1942 307
Ch. 17 Pedestal: August 1942 - Part I 332
Ch. 18 Pedestal: August 1942 - Part II 344
Pt. VI Malta's Triumph
Ch. 19 The Fight Back and the Final Blitz: September-October 1942 363
Ch. 20 From Besieged to Bridgehead: November 1942-July 1943 387
Epilogue: A Short Engagement over Sicily: 12 July 1943 409
Postscript 417
Appendix 431
A Note on Pronunciation 433
Notes 435
Glossary 445
Bibliography & Sources 449
Acknowledgments 459
Photographic Acknowledgments 461
Index 463
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2012

    Fortress Malta, a stylishly written, rich detailed history.

    Fortress Malta by James Holland is among the very best of the numerous histories of Malta in the Second World War and is one of the few of these to gain wide distribution in the United States. Filled with rich and entertaining details of life on the island under siege, as well as the historical context in which Malta played a crucial role in turbulent times, it helped inspire me to author "OPERATION HERKULES" as a novel of Alternate History to explore what might have come to pass if the island's civilian population and garrison had not stood in defiance of the Axis. I highly recommend "Fortress Malta".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2004

    Fills a void for WW II history buffs

    Fortress Malta is a thoroughly researched human history of the story of the men and women who survived one of the most intense and lenghty sieges of WW II. Written very much like the very best of Ambrose, this is an impressive first effort from an able historian. But it - read it.

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