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Splendor of Malta Hardcover Book

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Malta. Whispered in dimly lit stone corridors, faintly echoing; said simply; or read, silently: the word suggests volumes. Tales of valor come to mind. And tales of war. Tales of victory, treachery, intrigue, defeat, mystery. Knights in armor man stalwart ramparts that rise up from the roiling sea, as armies crash upon the shore. Fiery corsairs and great admirals pass through its deep harbors. Duels are fought. Outrages committed, glories achieved. If we listen closely, we hear the names of princes commingled with that of Malta; and the names of kings; popes; emperors; and grand masters of the valiant Order of the Knights of St. John. Suleiman the Magnificent and his general Mustapha Pasha are forever held at bay, though their arms be mighty and their will ferocious. Centuries pass. Napoleon steps upon its rocky ground, is bowed to....

At once firmly lodged in the events of history and in the present lives of its people, Malta encompasses yet a greater sphere: it lives within our imaginations, within our minds-- if hidden just beneath the surface, beneath a mottled and dull layer of tarnish, waiting for the polish of our author's hand. This volume, written by Shirley Jackewicz Johnston and illustrated with lavish full color photography by the late Marquess Anthony Cassar de Sain, is an excursion into this sphere. With a soft yet powerful cloth of deliberate and painstaking research, Johnston reveals the glowing embroilment of bishops and grand masters-- one vies to build a fabulous palace reaching towards the heavens, as another seeks to prevent it, an obstruction to his view and an implied infringement on his authority. Indeed, from a consideration of its architecture, of what was built and of what was not built, much of the collective spirit, will, imagination, and history of Malta can be gleaned. We should note, however: "This is not a history book," as the author tells us, "but history is firmly rooted in just about everything in Malta, including its remarkable architecture."

Here, Shirley Jackewicz Johnston takes us into this extraordinary architecture and into the equally extraordinary lives of those who brought it into being-- the Knights of the Order of St. John. Here we are given an intimate glimpse of the Grandmaster's Palace-- a sumptuous residence by any standard, housing one of the world's greatest armories and a collection of priceless works of art; we are taken through Fort St. Angelo, once a critical bastion against the Ottoman onslaught; into the Bishop's Palace, with its lush orange groves, planted, by Bishop Cagliares himself, back in 1622; and we are shown grandeur and beauty, in St. John's Church-- designed by Gerolamo Cassar. In fact, much that we are shown might be called grand and beautiful, but such words can hardly, fully, express what is on offer to our eyes. Indeed, between these covers, we find...the Splendor of Malta.
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