The best books about Malta

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Malta and why they recommend each book. Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

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Book cover of Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege, 1940-1943

Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege, 1940-1943

By James Holland,

Why this book?

James Holland is a popular historian because his works are so eminently readable. This book was his first and sprang from the BBC documentary, Battle for Malta, that he also wrote and presented.

Once Mussolini declared war on Britain, Malta, an island no bigger than the Isle of Wight, became a strategic keystone in the Mediterranean and was destined to become the most bombed place on earth. Holland uses survivor testimonies, diaries, and personal letters to focus his narrative on the tribulations and suffering as well as the hopes and fears of the ordinary Maltese and the servicemen sent…

From the list:

The best books about the Siege of Malta and the Mediterranean War

Book cover of Faithful Through Hard Times: The uncensored story of WW2 Malta

Faithful Through Hard Times: The uncensored story of WW2 Malta

By Jean Gill,

Why this book?

George Taylor, young and Scottish, a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, arrived in Malta in 1940, naïve to what the future held for him. Four years later he left as a cynical sergeant (and incidentally, a Master Freemason). In the interim, while letters home were heavily censored, he kept his own truths in an extensive secret diary. His candid narrative documenting the siege of Malta and the daily, pounding attacks from Axis air forces is shot through with his real anxieties for the survival of his relationship with Nettie, his fiancée back home. This is both a war…

From the list:

The best books about the Siege of Malta and the Mediterranean War

Book cover of The Religion

The Religion

By Tim Willocks,

Why this book?

The Religion is a harrowing, jaw-dropping narrative I think everybody should read. That the 1565 Great Siege of Malta that stopped the Ottomans in the West is so unknown is unwarranted. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sends an army to conquer Malta, an island owned by the Knights Hospitaller, a Catholic military order.

Mattias Tannhauser, a former janissary, ends up fighting with the Maltese Knights, against former comrades, for a Hospitaller leader he must murder, while the Inquisition welcomes the Hospitallers’ downfall: a glorious mess of cross-purposes for those who like plot twists. The Religion delivers an overwhelming immersion in a…

From the list:

The best fiction books set in the 16th century

Book cover of Ironfire

Ironfire

By David Ball,

Why this book?

The Great Siege of Malta – a nearly four-month struggle in 1565, should be essential for any military historian to understand. Sadly, its treatment in fiction has been ludicrously underserved.

Enter Ironfire. Mr. Ball’s work builds slowly, showing the reader how various elements of the Ottoman Army (the Janissaries, in particular) were acquired, trained, and readied for war. Likewise, a failing legacy of crusade, as well as a decline in support for religious military orders, plague Christian leadership in Malta. Ball’s ‘slow burn’ narrative ignites into the island’s famous siege by a massive and well-equipped Ottoman army, facing a…

From the list:

The best historical fiction novels depicting premodern battle

Book cover of Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

By Roger Crowley,

Why this book?

This book is an extraordinary synthesis of half a century of history (c. 1520-1571) as European powers and the Ottoman Empire fought for control of the Mediterranean Sea. Empires of the Sea focuses on a number of momentous military engagements, the Siege of Rhodes (1522), the Siege of Malta (1565), the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1570-1), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Crowley writes like an artist evoking the colors and textures of the brilliant seventeenth-century amid a world of emperors, sultans, popes, and pirates. He manages to capture both the extraordinary individuals who shaped momentous events through their personalities…

From the list:

The best history books that resonate across time and place

Book cover of Adequately Explained by Stupidity?: Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies

Adequately Explained by Stupidity?: Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies

By Morag G. Kerr,

Why this book?

No list of books on real conspiracies should leave out the bombing of Pan Am 103 over the Scottish village Lockerbie in December 1988. After reading Morag Kerr’s book, it’s impossible to trust any of the evidence in the case against Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. The book goes into a lot of detail but is still easy to read. If you like detective stories that focus on forensics, then this is the real deal. The only thing missing are the names of the people behind the bombing, but that may come in my next book, to be published in 2022…

From the list:

The best books on real conspiracies

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