The definitive history of the desert battle—”The end of the beginning,” as Churchill said— that changed the course of World War II . It was the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942 that inspired one of Churchill’s most famous aphorisms: “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” In this thrilling historical account, Jonathan Dimbleby describes the ...
The definitive history of the desert battle—”The end of the beginning,” as Churchill said— that changed the course of World War II .
It was the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942 that inspired one of Churchill’s most famous aphorisms: “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
In this thrilling historical account, Jonathan Dimbleby describes the political and strategic realities that lay behind the battle, charting the nail-biting months that led to the victory at El Alamein in November 1942.
Drawing on official records and the personal insights of those involved, Dimbleby creates a vivid portrait of a struggle which for Churchill marked the turn of the tide—and which for the soldiers on the ground involved fighting and dying in a foreign land.
"Before Alamein we never had a victory; after Alamein we never had a defeat": one of many memorable Churchill-isms that do not survive the acute eye of writer and filmmaker Dimbleby in this fine account of Britain's 1940-1942 North African campaign. When Italy entered the war in June 1940, its North African colonies' 250,000 soldiers vastly outnumbered 36,000 in Egypt under harried Gen. Archibald Wavell, who defended an immense area while fending off Churchill's exhortations to attack. Aware of their dilapidated forces, Italian generals reluctantly advanced in September. After some skirmishing, Wavell attacked, advancing 500 miles and capturing 100,000 prisoners. At this point, Churchill ordered three divisions transferred to Greece to meet a coming German invasion, and Hitler sent several divisions and his favorite general, Erwin Rommel. Disobeying orders to remain on the defensive, he drove Wavell's forces back into Egypt. Churchill replaced Wavell with Gen. Claude Auchinleck, whose November 1941 offensive overwhelmed Rommel, a dramatic victory that evaporated when Rommel unexpectedly counterattacked, routing Auchinleck's overstretched forces. By summer, with Rommel back in Egypt, Auchinleck was gone. By the time his successor, Montgomery, attacked in November 1942, Allied control of sea and air reduced Rommel's supplies to a trickle, and the outcome is well-known. The Desert Campaign remains the most satisfying of World War II. Civilians were scarce, so Germans could demonstrate their prowess without the usual atrocities. The British revealed their distinctive stubbornness in defense and slowness in offense, hobbled by inferior equipment and unimaginative generals. A great one-volume interpretation, the equal of Rick Atkinson's recent version and almost equivalent to much longer, older accounts by Barrie Pitt and Alan Moorehead.
“A triumph. The pace of the narrative is tremendous and the judgments are fascinating. This is a brilliant effort - when confronted by work of this quality I get carried away by enthusiasm.”
“Dimbleby's new perspective returns the Desert War to its deserved place as one of the pivotal campaigns of the Second World War.”
“An engrossing read, focusing on grand strategy.”
The Financial Times
“Dimbleby tells the story with confidence of a man who knows the historical terrain immediately.”