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


GENRE: Current Books, Non-fiction

November 1942 – An Intimate History of The Turning Point of WW2 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.



“As popular education, it is masterfully executed; as popular science [it is] probably unique, an achievement of international prominence. As literature, it is a deeply thought-provoking book, which makes the reader turn inward, toward their own time.”

“A powerful and moving chorus, and in the background the author himself always looms [as] a superb conductor, a master of polyphony and ambiguity.”
Dagens Nyheter

“It is as if [Englund’s] entire writing craft has been emancipated... Dreams from Violent Nights makes him one of the country’s foremost authors, [of] all categories [and] all time.”

“Englund shows how war intensifies the present, makes it vibrate... What is truly great about Englund’s November epic is how the author manages to conjure the everyday in extraordinary events.”
Svenska Dagbladet

“A brilliant reminder, in these times, of how destructive war is on all levels.”

“A magnificent read.”
Tidningen Vi

“Englund doesn’t look for heroes and villains; he is on the side of the people in a war between humanity and barbarism. He has gathered their voices into a literary chorus, and their yearnings are astoundingly unanimous.”
Upsala Nya Tidning

“In his snapshot of November 1942, Peter Englund puts individual human beings, their suffering and their actions, at the center of a battle he understand to be a fight between barbarism and civilization, and he does so in a manner so gripping and at the same time distressing that the reader is entirely captivated. (…) Englund’s triumph reminds us also that in spite of all strategic decision-making, the individual human being always is at the center and that history is fundamentally open-ended.”
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“An extraordinary and unsettling work. (…) ‘Moving’ is a weak word - again and again, this book is very tough on you. Englund unfolds the existential dramas in stylistically elevated prose, closely following the testimonies of his protagonists and of the literature about them.”
Deutschlandfunk Kultur

“Brilliant… Englund’s art consists in his not only letting well-known figures speak — the likes of Albert Camus, Ernst Jünger, and Sophie School — but also ordinary soldiers, ‘normal’ citizens and outsiders.”
Nürnberger Nachrichten

“Englund’s portraits help us experience the existential dimension of war.”
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung

“A fragmented and compelling narration with the most different sets restores a human dimension to war, enriches it with feelings, makes the horror really atrocious.”
Corrado Augias, Venerdì di Repubblica

“Peter Englund succeeds in transforming the narrative of the war into literature.”
Lorenzo Cremonesi, Corriere della Sera

 “Almost every page in this book becomes a movie in the head of the reader.”
Giorgio Gandola, Panorama

“An incredible tapestry woven by the many witnesses whose voices Englund uses. You can see how a colossal mosaic was made of millions of blood and bone pieces. And suddenly in that mosaic a different world began to take shape and succeeded in stopping the advance of dictatorships”
Matto Sacchi, il Giornale

“A mosaic of the Apocalypse or of what is closest to the apocalypse human beings have ever experienced.”
Matto Sacchi, il Giornale

“November 1942 provides a global panorama that is based on individual experiences described in diaries, letters and memoirs. Women’s experiences are commendably included. – The worm’s-eye view is powerful, because the reader is already familiar with the big picture of the war.”
Helsingin Sanomat

“There were several turning points in the fight against Nazism, which in the summer of 1941 seemed invincible. And then against Japan, whose advance thundered across the East. But November 1942 stands out in this context. At the time, not many could gain an overall impression of what was happening around the world. Eighty years later, the author Peter Englund paints a comprehensive picture of the situation – and he does it excellently, captivatingly, cruelly, and poetically.”
Historie Online, Denmark

“With incredible diligence and care, Peter Englund has collected the lives and testimonies of 39 people … One of Peter Englund’s strengths as a historian has always been his ability to immerse himself in events, visually and emotionally, to see the details that other historians do not see … [The book] is well written, one learns a lot, and becomes curious for more.”
Berlingske Tidende

“The turning point of the Second World War is masterfully portrayed through the experiences of 39 individuals who were there when it happened. … It is impossible to read November 1942 without having disturbing associations to what is happening in Ukraine.” 
Stavanger Aftenblad

November 1942 is a relentless depiction of the horrors of war, right down to the microscopic level. And although it may sound paradoxical, Peter Englund writes so smoothly and elegantly that it occasionally becomes almost lyrical.
Verdens Gang

“Peter Englund writes about 39 individuals and skillfully makes me care about each one of them. It is a considerable literary achievement. November 1942 is a masterfully executed, multilayered narrative.”

“… with small, precise, sensitive keys, Englund unlocks vast spaces of meaning … brilliant history writing, but also an intensely topical reality check.”

“Englund’s exceptionally vivid book … impresses in its scope, and at the same time draws the reader so close to the lives of the sources that you can just disregard the next film about the Second World War, and rather immerse yourself in November 1942 once more.”
Vårt land

“…with November 1942, the author shows that he is among Scandinavia’s leading non-fiction writers. … From the first page, Englund makes clear that he is serious about literary non-fiction. My God, this man can write. Even the long footnotes are riveting. November 1942 is a handbook in how to get the most out of your sources.”

“It almost shouldn’t be possible to cover so many fields, each with such a vast supply of historical evidence, but November 1942 never feels burdensome or overloaded – on the contrary, it is strikingly accessible and alive, and the reason for that lies of course in the way Englund approaches and uses his sources.”

"This gripping and propulsive account, expertly translated by Graves in lyrical prose, recreates the daily uncertainty of war as experienced by regular people with limited information and few resources. It’s a monumental work of history."
Publishers Weekly

"[Englund] succeeds in giving a very human (and inevitably sometimes, inhuman) snapshot of events... It is a book thoroughly worth reading."
The Telegraph



“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

"By interweaving the detailed experiences of 39 individuals from all parts of the conflict, Englund presents an extraordinary panorama of this pivotal moment. A haunting narrative imaginatively conceived, brilliantly told."

Julia Boyd, author of Travelers in the Third Reich 

"An astonishing achievement"

Anthony Beevor, author of Stalingrad

"Absolutely revelatory. A stunning tour de force. So much in here that is truly fresh and new. Englund chronicles the gripping tale of one month that caged everything in WWII, and it is so beautifully written and timeless. Once read, you'll want to return to this again and again."

Damien Lewis 

"Majestic... This is and extraordinary evocation of a pivotal moment in the 20th century. Englund captures not only the gnawing tension, the moments of terror and the flinty endurance but also the fractal complexity of this global conflict. Resonantly written and utterly gripping, this book will stay with you."

Sinclair MacKay

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.

Italian rights sold to Marsilio Editori

Norwegian Rights sold to Cappelen Damm

Polish rights sold to Wydawnictwo Otwarte

Portuguese rights sold to Ojectiva

Serbian rights sold to Geopoetika

Spanish Rights sold to Penguin Random House

UK Rights sold to The Bodley Head

US Rights sold to Knopf


25 jan 2024

November 1942 recommended by The New York Times

Fantastic news from the US! Peter Englund's November 1942: An Intimate History of the Turning Point of WW2 was included as one of the recommendations in the Editors' Choice in The New York Times. “Each experience is presented with equal weight, each diary or memoir paraphrased with dispassionate neutrality. This...

18 aug 2023

Publishers Weekly on November 1942: “A gripping and propulsive account”

Publishers Weekly just published a wonderful review of Peter Englund's November 1942 in Publishers Weekly: "Swedish historian Englund takes a captivating firsthand look at a pivotal month of WWII by drawing on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of 39 people who lived through it [...] This gripping and propulsive account,...

29 sep 2022

“One of Sweden’s foremost authors, of all categories and all time”

Peter Englund's November 1942 - An Intimate History of the Turning Point of WW2 is receiving some beautiful reviews in Swedish press: “As popular education, it is masterfully executed; as popular science [it is] probably unique, an achievement of international prominence. As literature, it is a deeply thought-provoking book, which...

02 mar 2022

Beautiful endorsements on Peter Englunds upcoming book November

Peter Englund received several tributing endorsements from international publishers on his upcoming book November, that will be published in September 2022. What they hold in common is especially the acknowledge of Englund’s unique way of telling – the thrilling meets the poetic and retells historical events, yet with his authentic language...

23 sep 2021

The Beauty and the Sorrow by Peter Englund – one of the best narrative non-fiction books of the 21st Century!

Peter Englund’s The Beauty and the Sorrow is among the five best narrative non-fiction titles published in the 21 st Century thus far, according to prestigious daily Svenska Dagbladet! The other four are Thomas Piketty, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson and Svetlana Alexievitch. And more good news! Peter Englund has just delivered the manuscript...