November 1942 – An Intimate History of the Turning Point of WW2

ORIGINAL TITLE: November 1942 - An Intimate History of the Turning Point of WW2


AUTHOR: Peter Englund, Peter Englund


GENRE: Current Books, Non-fiction

November (working title) should be seen as a companion piece to Englund’s international bestseller The Beauty and the Sorrow. Whereas The Beauty and the Sorrow sought to capture the entire First World War from beginning to end, November describes what happened during a single month, namely November 1942.

At the beginning of November 1942, it looked as if the Axis powers still could win; at the end of that month, everyone realized that it was just a matter of time before they would lose. In between was El Alamein, Guadalcanal, the French North Africa landings, the Japanese retreat from the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea, and of course the Soviet encirclement of the German Army at Stalingrad. Only one month, but perhaps the most important one in the entire twentieth century, when everything still hung in the balance.

Once again, Englund’s primary interest isn’t in giving us another top-down military history of the war, but in understanding it as a profoundly human experience.

The characters are of the most diverse types, and not only soldiers. In addition to, e.g., a Soviet infantryman at Stalingrad, an American pilot on Guadalcanal, an Italian truck driver in the North African desert, a partisan in the Belarusian forests, and a machine gunner in a British Lancaster bomber, there is also a 12-year-old girl in Shanghai, a freshman university student in Paris, a housewife on Long Island, a shipwrecked Chinese sailor, a prisoner in Treblinka, and a Korean sex slave at a Japanese “comfort station” in Mandalay.

November is entirely based on diaries, letters, and memoirs from people who were there. An incredible material that comes to life in a deeply touching and wonderfully enlightening way by Peter Englund’s pen.



“Among the many qualities of Peter Englund as an author, I would like to highlight his detective vein. Out of the unknown he evokes historical persons that few people have ever heard of before. He takes you by surprise with clues that lead you from the individual to the big events. He uncovers existential mysteries in everyday life. He finds the word that you, as a reader, may never have used but immediately understand. But there, perhaps, ends his resemblance to the detective: he lacks the obsession with finding the connections with everything, as well as the often emotionally frigid attitude. Thankfully.”

Anders Bergman, Editor in chief non-fiction, Natur & Kultur

"Peter Englund's book on November 1942 is a wonder.  Chronicling the activities of the wide-ranging cast of characters represents a unique and brilliant approach to portraying the events of that fateful month as it was experienced at the time.  The author's interweaving of the fascinating and poignant stories -- every single one of them -- makes for absolutely riveting and informed reading.  We look forward with great anticipation and pleasure to publishing Peter's wonderful book at Knopf."

Jonathan Segal, Vice President and Executive Editor, Alfred A. Knopf

“An epic work of history that leads from the north African desert to the deadly cold of Stalingrad, from faraway islands in the Pacific Ocean, to the German capital. At the same time a magnificent work of 'Anti-History', that helps us experience how the war really felt - by telling the personal stories of his contemporary witnesses. This book reads like a novel, thrilling, in parts even poetic. It is easy to forget that it is immensely erudite, too... I don't think that someone has ever told these events in such a unique way”

Frank Poehlmann, Editorial Director non-fiction, Rowohlt

November is a exceptionally well crafted work based on an impressive collection of source material. With strikingly beautiful prose Peter Englund alternates between depictions, locations and voices to capture the turning point of the war. Yet at the same time the story, that covers major historical events, remains both human and personal. With musical hearing Englund creates a weave of geography, people and environment that masterfully revives a time marked by war.”

Ingebrigt Waage Hetland, Publisher, Cappelen Damm

’’This book is full of stories, it’s bursting with nerdy, crooked details. On top of that it’s devilishly well written - in other words: a real Englund book!’’

Thomas Takla Helsted, Editor, Gyldendal Forlag

’’Peter Englund's new book is more immersive than any Netflix hit. Its charm and power are based on authentic voices of ordinary people and glimpses of their daily lives, which in one way or another have been affected by the war. Even though the fate of the world hangs by a thread, life must and shall go on.’’

Henrikki Timgren, Publisher, WSOY

Rights sold


Bulgarian rights sold to Ciela

Chinese rights sold to Citic

Danish Rights sold to Gyldendal

Dutch Rights sold to Het Spectrum

Finnish Rights sold to WSOY

German Rights sold to Rowohlt

Greek rights sold to Metaixmio

Hungarian rights sold to Corvina.

Norwegian Rights sold to Cappelen Damm

Portuguese rights sold to Ojectiva

Spanish Rights sold to Penguin Random House

UK Rights sold to The Bodley Head

US Rights sold to Knopf