Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.
Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 8(1981)2(163)
LAURENCE MIZZI, Għall-Ħolma ta' Ħajtu, Klabb Kotba Maltin, Malta, 1980, pp. 102 + illus.
A well-written account about a controversial Maltse during the Second World War, this book tries to delve into the motives which spurred on Carmelo Borg Pisani, hanged for espionage on 28th November 1942. Mr. Mizzi tries to answer many questions: why did Borg Pisani go to Italy? What did he do there? Why did he remain there on the outbreak of hostilities? Why was he the one chosen for espionage work out of all the Maltese in Italy at the time? How was he actually caught? What were his motives, real or apparent? Was he personally ambitious? Did he really believe that what he was doing could actually benefit Malta?
In his typically honest and straightforward way, Mr. Mizzi tries to give us the answers to these and to other questions. The author's task was not easy for there is little written material to work on and permission to peruse the records of Borg Pisani's trial was not forthcoming. Yet Mr. Mizzi manages to give us a pleasingly unadulated biography which tries very hard to present as true an account of events as possible although I have a sneaking feeling that the author subconsciously admires Borg Pisani more than he actually admits.
The author is the first to acknowledge that this is by no means the final word on the Borg Pisani episode and notes that more information may possibly be gleaned from Italian military and naval sources and most certainly from the court records of his trial when these are finally allowed to be scrutinized by the public.
Yet, in spite of this and the seemingly perennially missing indexes in most works published in Malta, Mr. Mizzi does give a worthwhile contribution to our island's history which I would not hesitate to recommend.
Joseph F. Grima