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Summary

This is 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: 'it is not the end nor is it the beginning of the end, but it is 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.

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.

©2012 Jonathan Dimbleby (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Destiny in the Desert

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great overview

A very good overview of the campaign in North Africa. It is not the most comprehensive history book, but still contains lots of detail. A gripping read.

The book focuses on the British offences against Rommel in Egypt and Libya, that lead up to the battles of El-Alamein, and the diplomatic negotiations that lead to Operation Torch.

However, it’s worth pointing out that the book gives very few details about the American campaign in Morocco, and the six months after El-Alamein are rushed over very quickly.

It also lacks any background to the countries the events take place in, and features very few Arab characters. It does not explain the stories of how Britain, France and Libya developed a colonial interest in North Africa, it does not give much information on the local politics of the area, or tell us what the native population thought of the Europeans while they were there.

I would also say that the writer falls short of decisively answering perhaps the most crucial question: was Operation Torch a good idea, and was it the fastest and most effective way of winning the war? For me, this still remained uncertain by the end of the book.

14 people found this helpful

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For Lovers of History

This is an excellent history of the battle in the desert, it's fast paced and doesn't bore you, Recommended!

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Excellent history of a impotent campaign

as well read as you could hope for and an insightful view 8nto an area of the war I was not familiar with

well worth a listen

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I hoped for a book more like FitSimmons Tobruk. The naval and air war are left out. There are some repetitions of quotes.

Narration was somewhat flat and moist sounding. Too geopolitical. Too little about the air war

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  • CT
  • 04-06-22

Fascinating

An excellent history of a sidelined part of the war. Really interesting worth listening

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Insightful account of the Desert War

I first studied the Desert campaign in 1964 as an exam subject for promotion, but it was too soon after the War for the revelation of much of the material covered in Jonathan Dimbleby’s fine book. He has managed here to bring together a wide sweep of a story that includes national leaders at one end and the voices of the fighting men at the other. In between he provides a fascinating account of the battles that ranged back and forth across the Western Desert, as seen by the combatants on both sides.
As the reader of his own book, the author brings an additional sense of authority to the narrative, perhaps due to his own experience as a journalist as well as his access and knowledge of his father’s role as the BBC’s principal war correspondent in the campaign.
I found the book well worth the many hours of listening and heartily recommend it to anyone who would like to know the fascinating story of the struggle between Rommel and the British generals in the first half of the Second World War.

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Destiny in thev desret

A bit long winded but worth staying with, helps some memory of the war i

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A very enjoyable listen

I enjoyed this book and learned many things about the desert campaign.
I was disquieted by the air of BBC superiority that exudes from Dimbleby. Namely, the readiness to praise all but the English. Australians, Kiwis, Scots wonderful but English soldiers mediocre! Montgomery gets rough treatment as does Winston Churchill. I want thorough history but without the elitist prejudice. However I did enjoy the listen, well worth discriminating attention.

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As good as any Max Hastings history!

Nothing more needs to be said by way of recommendation than that. Never a dull or dry moment.

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For lovers of military and political history

This is a really well written and narrated book. Always extremely interesting and seen from both the allies and axis forces points of view.

The bravery of those involved in the fighting has to be marvelled at. Those that commanded, be they the top brass or their political masters, have their contributions examined and analysed by an author who to my mind at least showed no bias.
One quibble perhaps and that involves the participation and effect on this conflict by UK special forces hardly gets a mention, you will need to look elsewhere for that

Recommended

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  • Torbjörn
  • 19-11-12

Destiny in the Desert review

What did you love best about Destiny in the Desert?

The detail and elaborating discussions regarding the different commanders thoughts and historians previous thoughts about there actions. Allot off information regarding UK's situation in world and Churchill's need for a second front.

What did you like best about this story?

It had a good tempo with short diversions from the time axis.

What three words best describe Jonathan Dimbleby’s performance?

Good narration

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

History in the desert