A very serious, competent English naval historian who recently gave us The Mighty Hood now tackles a much wider and more complex historical subject -- the great siege of Malta by the Ottomans in 1565. Although the book does not enjoy a constantly exhilarating style, its precisely-organized fund of information (the research is really admirable) does give the reader a superior, readable treatment of an important but little-discussed epic from the Renaissance past. The little island of Malta, occupied by the heroic order of The Knights of Malta, was considered a serious threat to the shipping of Turkey's great Ottoman Sultans. Resolving to destroy it forever, fierce Mustapha Pasha led a huge force of 40,000 men there by sea to overwhelm its less than 10,000 defenders. The siege, with its Janizary and Iayalar troops on the crescent side, its knights and Spanish soldiers on the Christian, is one, of the most terrible yet bravest of all history. How the Knights won victory over the Muslims is made an astonishing tale.