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For Great Britain there were two pivotal battles in the Second World War. One was the Battle of Britain. The other was El Alamein. There, in October 1942, in a remote part of the desert between Libya and Egypt, at a place named only for the sake of its nondescript railway station, and after a year of stalemate, the British army under the command of General Montgomery won an epic battle of attrition with Rommel's Afrika Korps. If the first kept Britain in the war to stand a chance of fighting Hitler, El Alamein turned the tide, after several years of retreat and defeat, that set the Allies on the road to future victory. Like the Battle of Britain, moreover, Alamein has taken its place in history as more than just a military battle: it has become a national myth. Where 1940 was consecrated by Churchill as "their finest hour", Alamein has been enshrined for posterity as "the end of the beginning" - as the line in the sand that Hitler's forces were ultimately unable ever to cross. Now, Stephen Bungay, author of The Most Dangerous Enemy, the history of the Battle of Britain Aurum Press published in 2000 that has already been acknowledged as the standard work on the subject, unlikely to be surpassed for its comprehensiveness and authority, has written a new and immensely readable history of Alamein. Like Stalingrad, Alamein is a book for the general reader: a superb narrative that covers every aspect of the battle: the political context that urgently demanded a military victory for Churchill as his government's fortunes reached their lowest ebb; the technological contest between the German tanks and the British artillery; the soldiers' war - a phantasmagoric blur of thunderous cannonade, swirling sand and baking heat; and the meeting of two evenly-matched military minds as the brilliant but mercurial Rommel faced the fastidious, dapper Montgomery across the desert more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 137.2 x 215.9 x 30.5mm | 498.96g
  • Aurum Press Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrated
  • illustrated edition
  • 16pp b&w plates
  • 1854108425
  • 9781854108425

About Stephen Bungay

Stephen Bungay is the author of The Most Dangerous Enemy (Aurum 2000). He now works in executive education, specialising in military history and modern management practice. He lives in more

Review Text

Following his acclaimed history of the Battle of Britain, Bungay now turns his attention to the other great British triumph of the Second World War - El Alamein. In the North African desert in autumn 1942, the British Eighth Army under General Montgomery defeated Rommel's Afrika Korps in an epic battle. For anyone who has any military experience or memories of the Second World War this is an unputdownable account. Indeed, it should be required reading for everyone, especially for the fourth chapter, entitled 'The Soldiers' War', which provides a graphic and realistic account of the conditions experienced by front-line troops. This book is not just an account of a battle, but provides a broad sweep of the events which led up to it, and a less sweeping account of its aftermath. It also puts the whole desert war in perspective in relation to the war as a whole. Bungay shows how compared with the Wehrmacht the British (and Commonwealth) armies were ill-prepared and undertrained. Montgomery was a prickly egotist, and few will disagree with Bungay's critical summation, but none who encountered him will ever forget his dynamic and inspiring leadership. His ruthless weeding out of the incompetent went far below senior commanders and transformed the Eighth Army. While Rommel was expert at exploiting opportunity, Montgomery's genius lay not only in his preparation for battle, but in sticking to his intentions. Of course, and quite rightly, much is made here of supplies and air superiority, but in the end battles are won by the bloody clash of infantry. If there is a criticism to be made of this gripping analysis, it is in a neglect of those whose bayonets and raw courage actually did the job. The British soldier, at the worst of times, never lost confidence in his own ability, only in those who led him. Montgomery restored his belief. This is a brilliant account of Alamein and all the issues surrounding it - political, military and technological. Highly recommended. (Kirkus UK)show more

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41 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 27% (11)
4 49% (20)
3 20% (8)
2 5% (2)
1 0% (0)
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