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Operation Pedestal Reviews

Operation Pedestal by Max Hastings

Operation Pedestal: The Fleet that Battled to Malta 1942

Max Hastings

4.29 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 13 May 2021
ISBN: 9780008364946

'One of the most dramatic forgotten chapters of the war, as told in a new book by the incomparable Max Hastings' DAILY MAIL

4 stars out of 5
Giles Milton
9 May 2021

"a dramatic Second World War naval history"

As for winners and losers, Hastings ends his highly readable book with the apposite question of whether Operation Pedestal was worth the loss of 13 ships, 34 planes and some 500 men. The Axis powers declared themselves victorious after claiming so many scalps. Yet Hastings (among others) argues that the Malta convoy was an operational success for the Allies, tipping the balance in the central Mediterranean in favour of the British.

Moreover, the battle was a morale-booster that raised the spirits of a nation sorely in need of good news. Churchill understood that this display of fortitude, although won at great cost, offered a glimpse of eventual victory.


5 stars out of 5
Saul David
9 May 2021

" As ever, Hastings gives excellent pen portraits of the personalities involved"

Hastings has written many wonderful books, usually on a broader canvas than this. But few combine so well his unique gifts as a historian: an understanding of human nature, a nose for a telling quotation, and the ability to write gripping prose. If this is his first stab at maritime history, it surely won’t be his last.

4 stars out of 5
Gerard DeGroot
5 May 2021

"This account of a naval operation to save starving Malta is an outstanding piece of historical storytelling,"

All this detail renders these men appropriately human. That’s the way war should be told, but so often it isn’t. More fundamentally, Hastings’s sensitivity to the human side of war allows him to understand what Pedestal was really about. Since only five cargo ships eventually made it to the Grand Harbour, it’s easy to question the operation’s logic. Pedestal seems like two bald men fighting over a comb. But humans aren’t logical and neither is war. Moral issues, as Churchill understood, are just as important as material ones. Malta was an essential display of British fortitude at a critical moment in time. “Warships existed to fight, and if necessary to sink, in pursuit of national purpose.” Bravo.