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Destiny in the Desert: The road to El Alamein - the Battle that Turned the Tide Paperback – 6 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846684455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684456
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Dimbleby takes the investigative and narrative approach - superbly paced and expressed - and is justifiably wary of academic certainties. (Allan Mallinson The Times)

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)

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. (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)

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 incredible 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. What Dimbleby has nailed so brilliantly is what so many war historians miss: the big picture. (Saul David, author of All The King's Men)

Insightful (Choice 2013-07-18)

Book Description

A unique history of the road to El Alamein - and how the bloody battle that followed decided the outcome of the Second World War. A perfect gift for Father's Day.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Strephon on 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 By Senior Groupie on 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 By HK on 17 Mar 2013
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Dykes on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By billycan on 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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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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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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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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