06 mar 2023

International praise for Peter Englund

Since Peter Englund’s November 1942 – An Intimate History of the Turning Point of WW2 has been published in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Finland and Norway it has gotten a fantastic reception with praising reviews!

“In his snapshot of November 1942, the Swedish historian [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 [of decisive turning points]. 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

“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 others 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 without having disturbing associations to what is happening in Ukraine.”
Stavanger Aftenblad

November 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. Assuredly translated into Norwegian by Alexander Leborg.
Verdens Gang

“Peter Englund writes brilliantly about 39 destinies in November 1942. … Peter Englund is not quite like other historians. Instead of documenting what happened, he is concerned with how those involved experienced it. In November, across 360 short chapters, he follows 39 people in various places around the world in November 1942 – that is, at the moment when the war was about to pivot in the Allies’ favor. Each of the 39 people is introduced with a portrait at the start of the book. Along with some utterly luminous and unique photographs from the period in question, the images contribute significantly to increasing the sense of

intimacy and reality in the narrative. … Peter Englund writes about 39 individuals and skillfully makes me care about each one of them. It is a considerable literary achievement. November 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.”

“The unwillingness to superimpose a traditional narrative structure onto the Second World War means that the historian Englund comes across as almost anti-historic. November is experimental history writing. In an intricate and richly illustrated arrangement we gain insight into 39 individual destinies across four weeks in November 1942. … The technique is not entirely dissimilar to that of Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksievich, even if her work is based on interviews. Just like the contemporary sources that Englund uses, the reader gets the feeling of being trapped in a universe in which there are two givens: the war and the moment. The lives we follow are wrapped in the fabric of spacetime which the war constitutes, and which Englund recreates. Coinciding dates in the source material help to create a sense of immediacy. … 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 once more.” —Vårt land

“…with November, 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, and Alexander Leborg has done an excellent job with the Norwegian translation. November 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 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.”