Malta During World War II: Background information when reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven

by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave X
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
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  • First Published:
    May 2016, 432 pages
    Mar 2017, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Malta During World War II

This article relates to Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Print Review

Map of MaltaThe island country of Malta, one of the key settings in Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave is Forgiven, might be tiny, but its location between Italy and North Africa, halfway between the Strait of Gibraltar and Egypt, has made it a strategically important naval base for hundreds, if not thousands, of years - including during World War II.

Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire in 1800 and was a key part of Britain's Mediterranean presence right through World War II. Its vulnerable proximity to Italy and North Africa during World War II, however, put the island in considerable jeopardy, and from the early days of the war in 1940 through the middle of 1942, it (and the British naval troops stationed there) were under near-constant threat from both Italian and German offenses. Axis General Erwin Rommel, head of forces in North Africa, said, "without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa."

Siege of MaltaIn their determination to control Malta, the Axis forces submitted the island to a concerted barage of direct bombing of the island itself, and sustained attacks on the supply ships that were serving Maltese residents and British troops alike. The so-called Siege of Malta lasted nearly two and a half years and resulted in the deaths or injuries of more than two thousand airmen and the deaths of thirteen hundred civilians, as well as the deaths of more than seventeen thousand people whose ships were lost at sea. In 1947, the British government gave Malta thirty million pounds to help rebuild the island's deeply damaged buildings and infrastructure. Malta became an independent country in 1964, and the last British troops left in 1979, when an economic pact to stablize the Maltese economy ended. It joined the European Union in 2004 and, today, is a highly industrialized country with a predominantly service-based economy in which tourism represents about 15% of GDP.

Map of Malta, courtesy of
Service personnel and civilians clear up debris on a heavily bomb-damaged street in Valletta, Malta on 1 May 1942.

Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to Everyone Brave is Forgiven. It originally ran in May 2016 and has been updated for the March 2017 paperback edition.

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