Operation Pedestal: The Fleet That Battled to Malta, 1942

Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9780062980151. $35. HIST
Famed military chronicler and former war correspondent Hastings, author of best sellers such as All Hell Let Loose and The Secret War, recalls an event that is often overlooked in World War II history: the four-day battle over a convoy relief mission that brought aviation fuel to besieged British forces in Malta. The loaned U.S. merchant tanker S.S. Ohio, one of the few ships to penetrate Axis forces, helped to achieve a strategic win. As the author tells, Adolf Hitler overruled his generals by first taking Crete, fortuitously leaving Malta to continue to supply Allied troops in North Africa. In this full-length treatment of a World War II naval battle, the prolific Hastings weaves Allied and Axis participants’ remembered accounts (which he acknowledges are often contradictory or embellished) and official archival documents into a free-flowing narrative. In the final chapter, Hastings presents other conflicting historical assessments of this operation, and acknowledges the previous work of Brian James Crabb (Operation Pedestal) and Peter C. Smith (Pedestal)
VERDICT Hastings should please his current fans and attract new devotees with this lucidly limned account, suitable for general readers and specialists alike.
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