Peter Englund

November 1942

November 1942

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

Summary

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.