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Books you are reading: The Flavour of the Gonzi Era?

Posted by fcb on May 29, 2008


A number of you are contemplating the possibility of buying John Manduca’s The Flavour of the Mintoff Era: Secret Negotiations Made Public, 2008. Manduca was Malta’s High Commissioner to London in 1987-1990. The book (334 pp) is privately published by the author. At Euro 25 for the paperback edition, it does not come cheap, especially not in these times when most of us common mortals have to tighten our belt. Well, has any of you out there read it? If yes, write in and post a comment on our Voulez vous lire avec moi? page.
To stimulate you here are conflicting views from two of you :

“Manduca must be commended for making no pretence of objective impartiality. His is the testimony of a frankly partisan observer. He speaks of an era that we have not yet seriously attempted to understand. Perhaps because we have not yet managed to put it behind us, to rise above it and to move on beyond it. The tortuosness and disjointed character of the ‘era’ Manduca seeks to report from is reflected in the very way the book is constructed. Yes, ‘report from’ is more appropriate than ‘report about’, because Manduca – who belongs to the era he writes about – writes to us from that period.” J.F

“The book is an amateurish mess and does not contribute one cent of an Euro to serious scholarship. With no clear references to the sources cited, the book ‘meanders’ through a complex period of post-colonial history…the choice of verb is not mine, Dr. Albert Ganado in his very generous Foreword admits that he enjoyed “weaving” his “way through the meanderings of Maltese politics it brings to life” (my emphasis, p.7). Manduca’s musings tell us more of the cultural flavour of the Gonzi era than about a past that every now and then prods us with a walking stick and reminds us that it is still not quite past…Qormi a couple of weeks ago is a case in point.” D.A.


7 Responses to “Books you are reading: The Flavour of the Gonzi Era?”

  1. J. Borg said

    I have not read this book. However I have had the pleasure (sic) to read Evarist Saliba’s autobiography. Saliba’s work is similar to Dante’s Divina Commedia, not in its level but rather in its structure. You have the inferno (1971-1987), the purgatorio where the CIA acts as a gatekeeper (1996-1998) and the paradiso (the rest).

    For anyone who enjoys reading fairy tales, I recommend Saliba’s autobiography. There you can learn how, for example, tap water was salty in Dom’s times and how it lost its salty taste as soon as Edward the Martyr, also known as Edward the Elder, liberated these islands from the heathen reds.

    What Saliba forgets to tell is how he had famously said that he preferred having empty desks in Government Departments rather than seeing labourites sitting behind them.

    J. Borg

  2. The blog post “Books you are reading: The Flavour of the Gonzi Era?” is featured on Maltamedia: The Maltese Blogosphere

    – Nominate blog post of the month –

  3. Joe Vella said

    Fernand Braudel, l-istoriku, ikona Franciza, kien qal li l-istorja tista tinkiteb minn tlett persuni differenti:
    A. Mir-rebbieha.
    B. Mit-telliefa.
    C. Mil-medjokri.
    Inhalli f’idejkom tahsbu f’liema kategorija jista jitpogga John Manduca.

    Joe Vella

  4. fabrizioellul said

    One time I read; There is no such thing as history but of historians. Do not take history as being absolute. It can be changed and modified at will. Objective scholarship becomes even more important. Unless it is backed by facts; the manuscript becomes nothing more than gossip. Only good to be read on the loo together with the rest of the rubbish.

    I blame the MLP for letting history being distorted. They should have took care in producing the history of the party. Yet, it will be very difficult to create an objective assessment of the 1960s-1990s. however, I do not see why scholarship attempts should not take place.

    I remember the ‘sensiela kotba socialista’ – who read: ‘ulied in nanna venut mill- amerki’ of Juan Mamo? It is a splendid satirical book on Maltese society.

    I think it is about time that the MLP starts being more of a Left party than an open club. For long, this position was taken up by A.D. It is important that the MLP starts asking itself what it means being ‘Left’ in the 21st century.

    A few weeks ago people started writing on post-ideological period. Yet, the GonziPN has vowed to remained faithful to its christian democratic principles. It becomes even more important to have a left movement.

    Fabrizio Ellul

  5. danny attard said

    a book you may want to check out is ‘The Other Side Of Israel’ by Susan Nathan. She shares with the reader her experiences as she settled in Israel, where she could understand the realities of life of the Arab citizens of Israel. Despite being a Jew, Nathan moved to an Arab Town of Tamara. Her experiences stimulated this reader to contemplate on the nature of humanity and how the present day pseudo-superior attitude of Nationalists towards Laborites may have its roots in the 1500s feudal attitude of the Mdina ruling class towards the Gabillotti. The tense relationship between knights and church may also resonate in the Sadducee/Roman relationship inspired by power-management considerations at the expense of Jewishness that saw so many Jewish movements rise, from the Essenes of John the Baptist to the Sicariis leading to the events of John’s cousin Jesus and the 70AC uprising leading, via Masada, to the great Diaspora…I am sure that Roman newspaper editors would have criticized the Jews for their siege mentality 🙂 a same accusation that the Jews would now level at the Arabs, strangers in their own land.

    Danny Attard

  6. J. Borg said

    Hi Danny, well the Jews (well actually the Israelis) are accused of having a siege mentality…remember the walls they’ve built between Israel and the Palestinian territories? 😉 Regarding Masada, well Labour right now might be in Masada, but what we have to do is fight back the “Romans” rather than having a mass suicide, or maybe in our case form klikkek which beat each other to death (politically of course 😉 )…well, not that this did not happen just over 100 days ago….

    J. Borg

  7. danny attard said

    Hi J Borg, Labour’s situation may not be as drastic as Masada i suppose 🙂 I compare it to post crucifiction and the conflict between James brother of Jesus and Paul, the Roman lover who enjoyed roman protection right through to his post Malta visit lol tajba din, ma nafx minn fejn gibtha, need to go medidate 🙂 take care

    Danny Attard

    [Fil-fatt, idea ta’ l-ostra! Proset, Danny. Caretaker,]

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