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  • Published: 19 March 2024
  • ISBN: 9781847924810
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $40.00

November 1942

An Intimate History of the Turning Point of the Second World War

November 1942 is an intimate history of the pivotal phase of World War Two.

An intimate history of the most important month of the Second World War - perhaps the century - as experienced by those who lived through it, completely based on their diaries, letters and memoirs.

At the beginning of November 1942, it looked as if the Axis powers could win the war; at the end of that month, it was obviously just a matter of time before they would lose.

In between came el-Alamein, Guadalcanal, the French North Africa landings, the Japanese retreat in New Guinea, and the Soviet encirclement of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. In this innovatively kaleidoscopic and riveting historical marvel, Peter Englund reduces these epoch-making events to their basic component: the individual experience.

In thirty memorable days we meet characters including a Soviet infantryman at Stalingrad; an Italian truck driver in the North African desert; a partisan in the Belarussian forests; a machine gunner in a British bomber; a twelve-year-old girl in Shanghai; a university student in Paris; a housewife on Long Island; a prisoner in Treblinka; Albert Camus, Vasily Grossman, and Vera Brittain - forty characters in all. We also witness the launch of SS James Oglethorpe; the fate of U-604, a German submarine; the building of the first nuclear reactor; and the making of Casablanca.

Not since Englund's own The Beauty and the Sorrow has a book given us one of the most dramatic periods of human history in all its immensity and emotional range.

  • Published: 19 March 2024
  • ISBN: 9781847924810
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

Peter Englund

Peter Englund (Author)
Peter Englund is a historian, journalist and member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He is the author of ten books, most recently The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War, and has won various literary prizes for his work including the August prize for the best Swedish book of the year and the Sela Lagerlof Literary Prize.

Praise for November 1942

**PRAISE FOR THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW** In four decades of studying war, I've never read such a remarkable book

Washington Post

A literary as well as a historical achievement


Intense and bighearted. ... The accounts of [these] lives can be terrifying or stirring, but are most fully alive in Englund's accumulation of small moments, stray details

New York Times

A wonderfully wide and rich mosaic of personal experience from the First World War

Antony Beevor

Peter Englund is one of the finest writers of our time on the tactics, the killing and the psychology of war. In The Beauty and the Sorrow he superbly and humanely brings to life all the tragedy, chaos, death and gunsmoke of battle

Simon Sebag Montefiore

A haunting mosaic of the experiences of war. The layers of voices build to create a richly complex and rarely heard account of the First World War that lingers in the memory long after the final page. Immensely powerful

Juliet Gardiner

[Englund] conjures up the atmosphere over and over again with just a few stark words. I loved all the detail... inspiring

Margaret Forster

Like no other, this book brings out in a poignant and effective way the meaning of World War I for those who lived through it

Lawrence Freedman

By interweaving the detailed experiences of 39 individuals from all parts of the conflict, Englund presents an extraordinary panorama of this pivotal moment. A haunting narrative imaginatively conceived, brilliantly told

Julia Boyd

An astonishing achievement

Antony Beevor

This gripping and propulsive account, expertly translated by Graves in lyrical prose, recreates the daily uncertainty of war as experienced by regular people ... It's a monumental work of history

Publishers Weekly

Absolutely revelatory. A stunning tour de force. So much in here that is truly fresh and new. Englund chronicles the gripping tale of one month that changed everything in WWII, and it is so beautifully written and timeless. Once read, you'll want to return to this again and again

Damien Lewis

Majestic … This is an extraordinary evocation of a pivotal moment in the 20th century. Englund captures not only the gnawing tension, the moments of terror and the flinty endurance but also the fractal complexity of this global conflict. Resonantly written and utterly gripping, this book will stay with you

Sinclair MacKay

Succeed[s] in giving a very human (and, inevitably sometimes, inhuman) snapshot of events ... Thoroughly worth reading


Thought-provoking … Englund’s book … deserves an audience, to increase knowledge not only of this particular war, but also of the stupendous sacrifices and tragedies of all human conflicts

Sunday Times

Engrossing … Englund’s approach echoes Homer’s Iliad which tries to understand at once the mayhem of war, the forces that drive it and the feelings its violence leaves behind … Englund’s tour de force casts a long shadow into our present – and its raw voices haunt me still

Wall Street Journal

Extraordinary ... with a scrupulous and skilful hand [Englund] has created an original panorama of humankind's most destructive war

New York Times

The stories of the individual people featured make the global personal in an astonishing way

Alan Parks, Daily Express *Books of the 2023*

Superb ... a stimulating read

New Statesman

What makes Englund's work original and remarkable is his narrative technique, which could be called 'the mosaic method' ... A coherent and moving portrait of a world at war

BBC History Magazine

Brilliant [and] arresting ... The style is vivid and novelistic ... [November 1942's] complex multitude of narrative lines and the intensity in which they're presented make for the most absorbing and harrowing reading. It is a remarkably moving and humane book

William Boyd, Times Literary Supplement