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  • Published: 1 August 2016
  • ISBN: 9780241972106
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $24.99

The Battle of the Atlantic

How the Allies Won the War

The tale of the campaign that determined the outcome of the Second World War - 'truly gripping' (Andrew Roberts)

The Battle of the Atlantic was - though often overlooked - crucial to victory in the Second World War. If the German U-boats had prevailed, the maritime artery across the Atlantic would have been severed. Mass hunger would have consumed Britain, and the Allied armies would have been prevented from joining in the invasion of Europe. There would have been no D-Day.

Through fascinating contemporary diaries and letters, from the leaders and from the sailors on all sides, Jonathan Dimbleby creates a thrilling narrative that uniquely places the campaign in the context of the entire Second World War. Challenging conventional wisdom on the use of intelligence and on Churchill's bombing campaign, The Battle of the Atlantic tells the epic story of the decisions that led to victory, and the horror and humanity of life on those perilous seas.

  • Published: 1 August 2016
  • ISBN: 9780241972106
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Jonathan Dimbleby

Jonathan Dimbleby is a distinguished broadcaster and author, who has reported from Russia at pivotal moments in the country's recent history. His documentary series The Eagle and the Bear and The Cold War Game investigated the impact of the Soviet Union on the rest of the world. In 1989 he became the first British journalist to interview President Gorbachev when he met the Soviet leader shortly before his fall from power.

Jonathan Dimbleby has written several bestselling books, including a biography of his father Richard Dimbleby, The Palestinians, The Prince of Wales and The Last Governor. For many years he presented flagship political programmes for ITV, and he is well known as the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions.

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Praise for The Battle of the Atlantic

This is an exceptionally vivid account of one of the critical campaigns of the Second World War by a masterly writer

Max Hastings

Winston Churchill famously described the Battle of the Atlantic as 'a war of groping and drowning, a war of ambuscade and stratagem, a war of science and seamanship' and no book depicts all of those myriad aspects better than Jonathan Dimbleby's majestic overview. His judgments can sometimes be harsh and are bound to be controversial, but they are backed up with wide reading, diligent scholarship and cogent argument. This is a truly gripping account of a campaign that the author rightly puts epicentral to the Allied victory in the Second World War.

Andrew Roberts, author of 'Masters and Commanders'

A fascinating story written with bite and grip of one of the most crucial showdowns of the twentieth century - of a victory wrung out of the unforgiving Atlantic swell by sailors and airmen using the best technology and Intelligence that those on land could provide. How close-run it was and the price of losing would have been catastrophe, defeat and darkness. Compelling

Lord Peter Hennessy, author of 'The Silent Deep'

Jonathan Dimbleby's second volume on the Second World War is even better than its predecessor. The Battle of the Atlantic is a gripping account of the Allies' hard-won victory at sea. Dimbleby has delivered a masterful narrative that challenges many of the received views about this often overlooked conflict that foretold the defeat of Nazism.

Amanda Foreman

Excellent on the characters of individual commanders . . . But perhaps the book's greatest strength is its analysis of the strategic side of the battle. Regularly switching from vivid coverage of individual encounters at sea, the narrative reveals the intense discussions that took place at the highest levels to decide naval policy, especially among Churchill, Roosevelt and their military advisers. It is [the] controversial assertion, backed by solid research and a readable style, that makes this book so compelling.

Leo McKinstry, Wall Street Journal

Starred review. "A gripping history overflowing with anecdotes and enough calamity, misery, explosions, and individual valor for a Hollywood disaster epic."


A gripping read and a great contribution to the history of the Second World War. The author realizes his immense ambition of bringing out the human aspects of the drama at every level, from the heads of state to the crews in the Atlantic, while also bringing important nuances to received views on the struggle against the U-boats, and, indeed, on Churchill's war leadership. An epic account.

Peter Padfield, author of 'War Beneath the Sea: Submarine Conflict 1939-1945', and biographies of Dönitz, Himmler and Hess

In this refreshing book Jonathan Dimbleby skilfully weaves together front line accounts and high policy discussions to provide a gripping and accessible new account of the most important campaign of the Second World War against Germany.

Professor Eric Grove, author of 'The Royal Navy since 1815'

The epic Battle of the Atlantic can only really be understood when set against the strategic context of the time. This highly engaging history does this by combining gripping accounts of the tactics and operational fortunes of the Germans and the Allies in this bitterest of battles with an authoritative review of the strategic thinking that helps explain their motives and their responses at the highest national level, and that shows why victory was so important for both sides.

Professor Geoff Till, author of 'The Development of British Naval Thinking'

Dimbleby makes a convincing case that of all the campaigns of WWII, the struggle for dominance over the North Atlantic was the most important . . . The history of the battle for the Atlantic is well documented, but Dimbleby's work, with its emphasis on the strategic importance of the battle, is an excellent addition to the story, and expert historians as well as general readers can enjoy this effort

Publishers Weekly

Dimbleby's incisive, gripping narrative uniquely places the campaign in the context of the entire war as it recounts the horror and humanity of life on those perilous oceans.

Richard Blackmore, The Independent

The strength of the book is its vivid evocation of dramatic events

Robert Tombs, The Times

The Battle of the Atlantic is a wonderfully readable mix of vivid personal stories and the penetrating questions that you wish someone had put to Churchill

Bronwen Maddox, Editor-in-Chief of Prospect Magazine

Dimbleby captures the savagery of the fighting and of the sea itself... he has tackled the complexities in a very accessible way; but more importantly he has woven a compelling narrative of the people who fought, directed and ultimately decided our fate

Admiral Lord West

I liked Jonathan Dimbleby's The Battle of the Atlantic and was gobsmacked to learn that the Germans read British radio messages much better than we read theirs. Air Ministry obstinacy (in failing to release aircraft from futile area bombing for anti-submarine patrols) nearly cost Britain the war

Matt Ridley, Books of the Year 2015


Richard and Judy

I am chilled to the bone and beyond ... the most extraordinary story ... absolutely fascinating

Vanessa Feltz

An accessible and anecdotal account of the battle and the men who waged it, full of colour and surprising detail

Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

Fascinating, thought-provoking and entertaining. Explodes a number of self-serving myths

Andrew Roberts (on 'Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein')

Fresh and provocative

Peter Snow (on 'Destiny in the Desert')

A wonderfully incisive, superbly written history. What Dimbleby has nailed so brilliantly is what so many war historians miss: the big picture

Saul David (on 'Destiny in the Desert')

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