am 18. Mai 2000
The Great Siege of Malta was one of the most epic battles of the Wars of Religion. To date, the most popular book on this topic has been Ernle Bradford's "The Great Siege". While a gripping and highly readable account, it fell far short on providing specific details of the conflict. Despite this, it was responsible for developing my strong interest in the battle, and remains a personal favorite.
When I first heard of impending publication of Mr.Pickles work - and by Osprey Publications no less, reknowned for their level of research - I went so far as to pre-order it, sight unseen. Unfortunately, the initial high hopes held for this book were quickly dashed.
There are no new insights offered, and the level of historic detail is wanting. Armchair military historians are offered little in the way of explanation of unit organization, tactics, logistics or command structures. Indeed, in some ways the book is a step backward, in that its maps, while colorful, contain incorrect dates, events and troop locations.
Evidence of a general sloppiness of research is further reflected in the sparse bibliography, which ignores such critical contemporary works as Bosio's "History of the Order of St. John", as well as more modern efforts like John Guilmartin's "Gunpowder and Galleys." How this surprisingly short list of references got past the eye of Dr. David Chandler, the highly respected editor of the Osprey series, is a source of wonder.
Finally, the author's proposed rules for wargaming the Siege betray his unfamiliarity with the medium; if attempted, the amount of die rolling required by a game player would quickly send them to the hospital with a wrist injury. Its best to just pass them by.
Its not that this so much a 'bad' book, as much as its just so... mediocre. Primarily, it boils down to a retelling of Bradford's tale, but with some flashier pictures and a far heavier hand. A disappointment.
am 7. Juni 2000
This is one of the very best of the Osprey Campaign series. The author succinctly describes the strategic background to the campaign, opposing plans, leaders and the forces involved. Order of Battle information is a bit sketchy. Once the Turks arrive, it became a bitter fight to the finish between two experienced and fanatical forces. This story is very interesting for military professionals to study because the outcome of the siege was close throughout, requiring imaginative use of "combat multipliers" and sound generalship. Both the heroism and leadership of La Valette are well told by the author. The maps depicting the key actions are excellent. Perhaps there are some minor errors (and what work of history is without error or omission?), but in this book there is a pathos of a long ago battle that is brought to vivid life by the author.
am 22. April 2000
This book is a very fine example how alive history can be - if it is told with passion and an eye for all the little details besides the bare numbers, dates and names usually found in history books. Also, the fabulous illustrations add to the whole captivating experience. This book is like one of those great Hollywood movies from the past - colorful in every detail, with big heroes and mortal confrontations, traitors and spies, and all sorts of unexpected twists and turns of fate. Of course you know that the good guys will win eventually ,but the suspense keeps you at the edge of your seat. This might well be the best book yet in the already exceptional Osprey Military Campaign Series.