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Destiny in the Desert: The road to El Alamein - the Battle that Turned the Tide [Hardcover]

Jonathan Dimbleby
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2012
It was the British 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'. And yet the true significance of this iconic episode remains unrecognised. 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. It is a story of high drama, played out both in the war capitals of London, Washington, Berlin, Rome and Moscow, and at the front, in the command posts and foxholes in the desert.Destiny in the Desert is about politicians and generals, diplomats, civil servants and soldiers. It is about forceful characters and the tensions and rivalries between them. Drawing on official records and the personal insights of those involved at every level, 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.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Edition edition (15 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846684447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684449
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'By turns fascinating, thought-provoking and entertaining - and always beautifully written - 'Destiny in the Desert' explodes a number of self-serving myths about the Desert War and its apogee, the battle of El Alamein, while letting the reader appreciate why this incredibly story has spawned so many of them. In their place emerges a tale of heroism and sacrifice, told from the point of view of the highest grand strategist down to the lowliest serviceman, which is far more entrancing than any comforting myth. Jonathan Dimbleby lets us see El Alamein anew.' -- Andrew Roberts

'A wonderfully incisive, superbly written history that underlines the key role the Desert War played in Hitler's downfall.' --Saul David, author of 'All The King's Men'

'Dimbleby takes the investigative and narrative approach superbly paced and expressed and is justifiably wary of academic certainties' -- The Times

'Covers a broad canvas - as wide as the desert itself. Dimbleby expertly weaves the dramatic events of the desert war together with the decisions and dilemmas of the great war leaders. He tells this story with real pace, drama and insight and his new perspective returns the desert war to its deserved place as one of the pivotal campaigns of the Second World War.' -- Dr Niall Barr, author of 'Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein'

'An engrossing read, focusing on grand strategy' -- Martin Kitchen, author of 'Rommel's Desert War'

'Dimbleby persuasively explains why it was the side-show which wasn't a side-show and links his explanation to a vivid portrayal of life - and death - in the desert' --Stephen Bungay, author of 'Alamein'

'What makes this book so attractive is its crisp and authoritative treatment of the wider context in which this pivotal battle was fought. Dimbleby doesn't pull his punches in assessing the qualities of the main players Churchill brilliant but brutal, Auchinleck underestimated, Montgomery over-hyped and self-serving. Read this fresh and provocative account and you ll be in little doubt that this was for Britain the single most critical battle of the Second World War.'

'Extremely well written. Dimbleby obviously has a passion for his subject, and he tells the story with confidence of a man who knows the historical terrain intimately. Anyone who does not yet know about this period of the war could certainly do worse than pick up this book' FT

'Lucid and very well written' Independent

'A compelling multi-strand narrative' --Mail on Sunday

'What makes this book so attractive is its crisp and authoritative treatment of the wider context in which this pivotal battle was fought. Dimbleby doesn t pull his punches in assessing the qualities of the main players Churchill brilliant but brutal, Auchinleck underestimated, Montgomery over-hyped and self-serving. Read this fresh and provocative account and you ll be in little doubt that this was for Britain the single most critical battle of the Second World War.' --Peter Snow

Book Description

A unique single-volume history of the road to El Alamein - 'the end of the beginning' - and the bloody battle that followed ...

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alamein 1 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very readable and well researched account of the North African campaign, but the statement in the blurb that "Dimbleby......redefines the battle as a tipping point in British fortunes" is surely, to any student of military history, a statement of the obvious. There appears to be nothing new in this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Brilliance 6 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover
THis book is a considerable achievement. The apparent economy of the style is deceptive, because the writing is as elegant as it is authoritative. Dimbleby unfolds the story of the events leading up to El Alamein with the imaginative control of a novelist, informed by the skill of the investigative journalist. Yes, maybe the material isn't new, but it's all in the telling, isn't it? This writer brings a rather affecting personal angle too - since his father, the great Richard Dimbleby reported from the desert for the BBC in the run up to El Alamein. What characters we have in this narrative! Churchill, Wavell, the 'Auk', Rommel....and (more importantly) all the fighting men whose testimonies are the stuff of real history. THis is an epic, told with brilliance by a writer who seems to have discovered his metier.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What makes this book stand out is the detail surrounding the campaign rather than the campaign itself. Johnathon Dimbleys father was I think the BBC correspondent in North Africa which must have given the writer an unusual insight into this campaign. I am old enough to have followed this campaign,but with heavily censored information. I was biased in favour of Aukinlech partly due to the fact that I had his room at school. I remember him showing me where he had scratched his initials under the bed. Seventy years later I perhaps view him less favourably. I was anti Montgomery at the time and probably still am today. Not only is this book highly readable but it should be compulsory reading for anyone studying world war 2. It is said that the bombing by the Japanese of Pearl harbour and the German invasion of Russia were what won the war. The North African campaign doesnt quite rank with these, but nevertheless was more important than generally given credit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars billycan 3 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although not a particular admirer of Jonathon Dimbleby, I could not put this book down.
Brilliant research and outstanding detail of Churchill's unyielding personality and persistance with Roosevelt and his chiefs of staff General Marshall and the Anglophobic Admiral King. His "battles" with his own generals Wavell and Auchinleck are also laid out in detail.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, but not really military history 7 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover
This book is an enjoyable read. Dimbleby writes with an easy and uncomplicated style which allows the reader to follow the Byzantine politics of the Anglo-American relationship in 1941-2 easily. He is strongest in the political arena - as a military history, this book is weak and unoriginal. He acknowledges the importance of tank design (and how inferior the British tanks were to the German), and the catastrophic breach of security over a lengthy period by the American Colonel Fellers, which gave Rommel an open window into British dispositions, but without going into details or seeming to realise their crucial importance. He disappointingly prefers to blame the "lumbering and inflexible" British army's failures on its class divisions. If they were so important, it is surprising that the French army - which has had a meritocratic officer corps since the Revolution - fought so badly in both 1914-18 and 1940; and even more surprising that the German army, in which a huge proportion of the officer corps sported the aristocratic "von", fought so very well. He takes no account of the inexperience of the British army and of the difficulties inherent in creating a mass army out of a small imperial police force and putting it up against a experienced professional army born of a militaristic society. Such a judgement probably reflects Dimbleby's own prejudices; especially as he seems to think that Montgomery, who was educated at The King's School, Canterbury, and St Paul's and was the son of a clergyman who inherited an ancestral estate in Ireland, wasn't part of the very officer class he seems to despise. There are a number of errors in the text which indicate either poor editing or sloppy research - for instance, the Arctic convoys did not "run the German gauntlet through the Baltic". All this points to a book written by an author whose expertise lies elsewhere. Read it for pleasure - but take it with a pinch of salt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday present 1 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My husband really enjoyed this book, really well written and well researched.
He found it very interesting as his Dad was in the 8th army.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A CRACKING GOOD READ 9 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a bit unsure about this at first look but the author has told a much told story from the hollistic angle. A very good read highly recommended by me. I'm a bit of a WWII buff as my father fought in France in 1940 & 1944.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB ANALYSIS OF THE DESERT WAR 8 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Probably one of the best books I have read on the WW2 desert war. Full of insightful observations it does much to creat a clearer picture of the commanding generals ignoring all the hype and propoganda. It shows Churchill as a politician par excellance, especially when dealing with the USA, but as a pain in the backside for his military commanders by trying to get them to attack before they could succeed. In the end you admire those involved for their realistic acheivements in what was seen by many as a side-show in a theatre of extreeme conditions and scarce recources. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars DESTINY IN THE DESERT
Bought this as a Christmas present so cant give a personal review but the person who recommended it thought it was superb.
Published 5 months ago by jenny davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book well worth buying
Excelent book can't put it down & very informative & never a dull moment, great details from the first page through
Published 7 months ago by B. Groombridge
5.0 out of 5 stars READ
An excellent read, delivery of product excellent.

One of the most balanced accounts of the war in the desert, recommend anyone interested in the Second World War... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Derek Nuttall
4.0 out of 5 stars Destiny in the Desert
As an avid reader of all thinks military I found the book interesting but a good read it's a shame that the author tend to focus on the higher figures why not the ordinary soldier... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Terry Heslop
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid descriptiopn of desert warfare.
This book has been well researched and is easy to read. Dimbleby is reasonably fair with his comments about the generals erc although Montgomery comes in for some criticism. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Norman Fairfax
5.0 out of 5 stars Destiny in the Desert
A good read. This book is well written and does, as is claimed, shed new light on some aspects of the war in North Africa. Read more
Published 10 months ago by 2356STOTT
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for dads
My dad wanted this book and it was twice the price on the high street.
Result of buying from here was happy dad and happy purse for me
Published 11 months ago by Jan
4.0 out of 5 stars Destiny in the desert
Very nicely written and obviously extremely well researched, I learned much about the operation but did find it somewhat heavy going and a little repetitive at times. Read more
Published 11 months ago by D. Mckinnie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
Was great to find out about some of the experiences family members may have been involved with.
An interesting read.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs D Fullbrook
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