Book Review-‘German Malta Maps by A. Ganado’ and J. Schiro : ‘The Charting of Maltese Waters: A historical account’ by W. Soler and A. Ganado

By J.D.Davies, published October 2020


These two books are published by the Maltese company BDL, one of several local publishers producing excellent maritime history books that deserve a much wider readership. Both cover superficially similar themes and are produced to a high standard; moreover, both are co-authored by Dr Albert Ganado, the distinguished Maltese cartographer. However, they have very different origins and take very different approaches. German Malta Maps is essentially the catalogue of an exhibition held at the National Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa, in the autumn of 2011, while The Charting of Maltese Waters has a much broader remit. Naturally readers of The Mariner’s Mirror are more likely to be interested in the latter: by definition, the German maps display the land area of Malta alone, and although they include some interesting evidence for the layout of the island’s fortifications and, above all, of the Great Siege of 1565, their maritime focus is usually incidental. Moreover, a number of the maps are relatively crude and derivative, produced second-hand by German publishers from originals produced elsewhere. The editors also took the curious decision to organize the maps alphabetically, by the names of their creators, rather than chronologically. Having said that, there are some real gems, notably the ‘spy maps’ produced in the 1820s by Baron von Behrend, a Prussian colonel of engineers domiciled on Malta – proof, perhaps, that spying on one’s nominal allies is hardly a modern phenomenon…

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Filed under: Mediterranean
Subjects include: Harbours & Dockyards

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