Author(s): Stephen Bungay
Written for the 60th Anniversary of the battle. 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 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, published by Aurum Press 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. 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 wastes. ategic contest as the mercurial Rommel faced the fastidious Montgomery.
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 Surrey.