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Merhba (Hello) Malta For Travelers
Fortress Malta : an island under siege, 1940-1943
by James Holland.
New York, N.Y. : Miramax Books, c2003.
June 11, 1940. Italian aircraft pummel the idyllic Mediterranean island of Malta. It is the first of more than three thousand bombing 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 Cod -- became 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 lost shipwreck of Paul
Robert Cornuke.
Bend, OR : Global Publishing Services, 2003.
This book is best described as the documented specific find of all four, thirteen foot Alexandrian Roman Anchors discussed in Acts chapter 27, verse 29 of the Holy Bible. With all the drama any fiction writer would dream of having, this non-fiction factual documentary is written in an engaging fiction style.
     
The end of the beginning : from the siege of Malta to the Allied victory at El Alamein
Tim Clayton and Phil Craig.
New York : Free Press, 2003.
"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." -- Winston Churchill, November 10, 1942 Spring 1942. Throughout the world, the Allies retreat before the inexorable march of Fascism: Singapore falls to Japan; the Wehrmacht lays siege to Leningrad, captures the Crimea, and advances on Stalingrad; Greece and Yugoslavia fall to the Nazis; the American Pacific Fleet lies in ruins; and in Libya, Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps faces off against the British Eighth Army. Over the next twenty weeks, a series of battles fought in North Africa's Western Desert will become the pivot point of the Second World War. In part, The End of the Beginning is the story of those battles: Rommel's surprise attack on the Gazala Line in May 1942, the fighting retreat of the British Eighth Army under General Sir Claude Auchinleck, and the fall of Tobruk after a siege lasting 240 days; the blockade of Malta and the Pedestal convoy that finally relieved the island; Auchinleck's brilliant last-ditch battle to hold Rommel at El Alamein, Rommel's final attacks at Alam Halfa Ridge, and then Montgomery's destruction of the Afrika Korps at the second battle of El Alamein in November. But, like the best works of popular history, The End of the Beginning is more than a simple chronicle of battles won and lost, of the decisions of statesmen and generals. Its stories are told from the perspectives of the men and women who spent these pivotal months on the very tip of the Allied spear, with raw, personal experience documented on virtually every page: Peter Vaux, the intelligence officer of the British 7th Armoured Division, plotting the defeat of the Afrika Korps in a desert wadi named El Alamein; American merchant marine cadet Lonnie Dales sailing in the Pedestal convoy in an attempt to relieve Malta and, after his ship is sunk, volunteering to man the antiaircraft gun on the crippled oil tanker Ohio; Flight Lieutenant Ken Lee flying ground support missions by day, exploring the fleshpots of Alexandria by night; Alex Szima from Dayton, Ohio, one of Darby's original Rangers, joining the Canadians in the failed raid on Dieppe, and probably becoming the first American to kill a German during the war; Mimi Cortis, a Maltese nurse in one of the island's supply-starved hospitals. These stories give an unmatched depth to the consequences of the disputes between Churchill and his senior commanders; the shuttle diplomacy between London, Washington, and Moscow by FDR confidant Harry Hopkins; the deep conflicts between Montgomery and his predecessors; and the extraordinary American intelligence blunder that betrayed the Eighth Army's plans to Rommel. Showcasing the latest scholarship and the authors' own original research, packed with edge-of-the-seat first-person experiences, and intercut with the pace of popular fiction, The End of the Beginning is an extraordinary assessment of one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War.
     
The Knights Hospitaller
Helen Nicholson.
Woodbridge, Suffolk ; Rochester, NY : Boydell Press, 2001.
A vivid, concise history of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, founded to care for sick and poor pilgrims, defenders of Christendom for almost seven hundred years.
     

Meeting at the crossroads of the Mediterranean is the tiny island country of Malta, a rich combination of British, Italian, and North African cultures. The three islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino make this nation a wonderful and economical travel spot for tourists.

Coast of Marsaxlokk
in Malta

Perhaps most widely known for its falcon, there are now very few of these birds left. Plenty of sites and charms remain for visitors, especially those interested in history. The Mosta Dome, with Europe's third largest rotunda, is impressive in its own right. During World War II a bomb crashed through the roof, though it never exploded and rolled down the aisle. The Knights of St. John, Christian crusaders, ruled the nation for around 350 years, and their presence is evident, especially in the capital of Valletta. St. Paul the Apostle is even believed to have shipwrecked here and is the reason for the devout Catholicism of the people. The Hypogeum, an extensive underground necropolis, dates to around 3000 B. C. and limits the number of visitors allowed in each day to prevent decay. 

In 1530, the Emperor of Spain, Charles V, gave the islands to the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, in exchange for two Maltese falcons a year for rent. Falconry then became a favorite sport and the Maltese falcon became extinct on Malta.

Although there aren't many sandy beaches in Malta, this is one of the hottest spots for scuba diving in Europe. Both English and Malti, or Maltese, are official language so communication is quite simple for travelers. Transportation is easy as well. The iconic orange and yellow buses get people all over the main island quickly, and ferries operate for inter-island travel. Fans of Italian food will enjoy dining, as much of the cuisine here is very similar, but the favorite dish is fenek - rabbit!

Often overlooked, the islands of Malta are just waiting to be explored by more people.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff