Jonathan Dimbleby

Book cover image

Narrated By: Jonathan Dimbleby

Duration: 22 hours and 40 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of Russia in June 1941, aimed at nothing less than a war of extermination to annihilate Soviet communism, liquidate the Jews and create Lebensraum for the German master race. But it led to the destruction of the Third Reich, and was cataclysmic for Germany with millions of men killed, wounded or registered as missing in action. It was this colossal mistake -- rather than any action in Western Europe -- that lost Hitler the Second World War.

Drawing on hitherto unseen archival material, including previously untranslated Russian sources, Jonathan Dimbleby puts Barbarossa in its proper place in history for the first time. From its origins in the ashes of the First World War to its impact on post-war Europe, and covering the military, political and diplomatic story from all sides, he paints a full and vivid picture of this monumental campaign whose full nature and impact has remained unexplored.

At the heart of the narrative, written in Dimbleby's usual gripping style, are compelling descriptions of the leaders who made the crucial decisions, of the men and women who fought on the front lines, of the soldiers who committed heinous crimes on an unparalleled scale and of those who were killed when the Holocaust began. Hitler's fatal gamble had the most terrifying of consequences.

Written with authority and humanity, Barbarossa is a masterwork that transforms our understanding of the Second World War and of the twentieth century.

© Jonathan Dimbleby 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021


Second World War, Specific wars and campaigns, Military history, European history

Listen to a sample

The best single-volume account of the Barbarossa campaign to date

Andrew Roberts, author of 'Churchill: Walking with Destiny'

It's a vital story, one everyone should know, and Dimbleby tells it with verve and elan

Laurence Rees, author of 'Hitler and Stalin'

Should be on everyone's reading list for 2021

Dr Amanda Foreman, author of 'A World on Fire'


General Sir Mike Jackson

Vivid and engrossing

Brendan Simms, author of 'Hitler: Only The World Was Enough'

An impressive achievement . . . a fast-paced, gripping read

Julia Boyd, author of 'Travellers in the Third Reich'

A great read . . . he brings Barbarossa very vividly to life, as if you are there

Robert Kershaw, author of 'War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942' and 'Borodino Field 1812/1941'

Thought-provoking . . . a captivating eye-opener

Prof Dr Gerhard Hirschfeld, University of Stuttgart, former President of the International Committee for the Study of the Second World War

Superbly well-written . . . the most comprehensive study of Hitler's invasion of the USSR in years

Keith Lowe, author of 'Savage Continent'

Expertly narrated and written with piercing clarity

Frederick Taylor, author of '1939: A People's History'

A chilling account of war at its worst

Bear Grylls

Superb . . . stays with you long after you have finished

Henry Hemming, bestselling author of 'Our Man in New York'

Brilliant . . . a wonderful piece of history

Robert Fox

Epic . . . captures all of Barbarossa's drama and magnitude

Martin Sixsmith

Brings to life the sheer, staggering scale of these events... with great skill, care and attention to detail

Sunday Times

[An] encyclopedic new account... a vivid, meticulous tapestry, densely weaving the threads of German and Soviet military strategy, political calculation from Washington and London to Moscow, and war's pitiless human cost

The Telegraph

[Dimbleby] skilfully tracks the shifts and turns of the campaign, sparing no detail . . . a riveting account