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What to Read: Clash of Empires: The Great Siege, a Review by Carl Weldon

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June 01, 2014
What to Read
Carl Weldon

What's On the Bookshelf
Over the years, we’ve had numerous conversations with industry leaders and often one of the topics that we discuss is the latest book read. We thought it would be fun to share some of these booklover conversations with our readers. Here are what our industry leaders are reading.

Clash of Empires: The Great Siege, By William Napier
[Review by Carl Weldon, Chief Executive, HOSPA]

It is always more interesting to read about somewhere that you have just visited and that has real history. I didn't realize just how much my recent trip was steeped in history.

After a long weekend at the Corinthia Hotel in Malta, I picked up this book about the Great Siege of 1565 when the might of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire was ready to take over the rest of the world. All of the events that are described in the book took place on the island I had just explored. A small set of 500 Knights of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitaller) defended the island and its main harbours with some soldiers and inhabitants against a hugely superior force – defending the harbour forts of St. Elmo and St. Angelo – and the gateway to the rest of Europe.

It was bloody and brutal, and this book provides an excellent fictional version of what could have happened to a young English defender caught up in the events. You find yourself holding your breath waiting for the siege to start, rushing through the main heroic defence of St. Elmo and both cheering and sad at the end – knowing that this may just have been what happened.

You end up appreciating the sacrifice – and the history. I had not realized that the main town of Valetta (named after Jean Parisot de Valette – the Grand Master and Commander) that now guards the main harbour was only built after this siege because the island survived and needed fortifying for the future.

If you like history at its most vivid – about the sacrifice of the few for the greater good – and then want to visit the location – then this book is for you!

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