Viking has snared a “definitive” history of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's plan for the invasion of the Soviet Union, from broadcaster and author Jonathan Dimbleby.
Daniel Crewe, publishing director for Viking non-fiction, bought world rights from Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates. Barbarossa: How Hitler Lost the War will be published on 15th April, ahead of the 80th anniversary of the start of the campaign on 22nd June.
Drawing on hitherto unseen archival material, including previously untranslated Russian sources, Dimbleby recounts the story of the largest military operation in history which Hitler hoped would annihilate Soviet communism but ultimately led to the destruction of the Third Reich.
The publisher said: “With authority and panache, Dimbleby looks at the story of the military campaign, alongside the politics and diplomacy behind this epic clash of global titans, and cements Barbarossa as the most important struggle in the annals of the 20th century. This is the definitive book on Barbarossa, this is a masterwork for the ages.”
Advance praise has come from Robert Kershaw, who said Dimbleby brings “Barbarossa very vividly to life”, and historian Andrew Roberts who called it “the best single-volume account of the Barbarossa campaign to date”.
Dimbleby's works include the Second World War histories The Battle of the Atlantic (Penguin) and Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein (Profile), which was followed by his BBC Two programme “Churchill's Desert War”. The broadcaster was until recently the chairman of BBC Radio 4's weekly “Any Questions?” programme and presented ITV's flagship weekly political programme, “This Week”, for more than 10 years.
He said: “Operation Barbarossa was the most important as well as the most barbaric campaign of the Second World War, a seismic struggle that shaped the destiny of Europe for half a century and beyond. Writing this book has been an epic journey of discovery that I much look forward to sharing with my readers.”
Viking will be supporting the book with “a strategic and ambitious” multi-strand PR and marketing campaign focusing on publication in April and the anniversary on 22nd June.
Crewe said: “We are thrilled and extremely proud to be publishing the tour de force that is Barbarossa – to which the reaction from historians and journalists has been phenomenal. I am in awe of the way that Jonathan has weaved so many strands of this struggle – military, political, diplomatic and more – into a single narrative that conveys the importance of this campaign so grippingly.”