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Reviews

Maltese Delights

Those who were struck by the graceful prose and clear thinking of Judge Giovanni Bonello’s decision in the case of the Italian crucifix (see “Keeping History,” Cultural Revolutions, July) should be interested to learn that he has for some years had a sideline in the brief historical essay.  Many of these have found their way into local newspapers and into Treasures of Malta, a journal of art and culture published three times per year by Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti.  In 2000, the foundation began issuing Histories of Malta, magnificently produced bundles of Bonello’s essays, the annual appearances of which have gathered a dedicated following for those with an interest in Maltese history in particular and good prose in general.

Bonello writes like an intelligent raconteur on the corners and byways of Maltese history.  This is not so limiting as geography alone might suggest.  The islands of Malta, beleaguered hub in the spoked wheel of Mediterranean naval routes, blessed with a well-sheltered deep-water harbor, have been invaded and inhabited by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, the Knights of St. John, the French, and the British; Malta would have been German territory as well had not the British and Maltese endured the long siege in 1943.  Malta was communally awarded the George Cross for her actions.  She is also noteworthy for the Great Siege of Malta...

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