A unique single-volume history of the road to El Alamein - 'the end of the beginning' - and the bloody battle that followed ...
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.
Jonathan Dimbleby is a writer, broadcaster and film-maker. He presents Any Questions? for BBC Radio 4 and presented ITV's flagship weekly political program This Week for over ten years. In 2008 his five part series on Russia was broadcast by BBC 2 accompanied by his book, Russia - A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People; other books include Charles: the Private Man, The Public Face and The Last Governor. His 2010 series An African Journey and 2011 series A South American Journey were both broadcast on BBC2. In addition to his Presidency of VSO, he is Chair of Index on Censorship and a Trustee of Dimbleby Cancer Care.
'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
'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
'Dimbleby takes the investigative and narrative approach - superbly paced and expressed - and is justifiably wary of academic certainties.', Allan Mallinson, The Times
'The book is a triumph. I thought I more or less knew it all...and I didn't. The pace of the narrative is tremendous, zooming in from the global perspectives to the personal experiences of the squaddies at the sharp end of decisions, moving from the petty squabbles to the heroic achievements; and the judgments are fascinating, and tough but fair. This is a brilliant effort -- when confronted by work of this quality I get carried away by enthusiasm.', Sir Harold Evans, author of The American Century