Agents & Producers

Peter Englund

Peter Englund is Sweden’s most prominent narrator of modern history. His bestselling books have been raved about by celebrated authors in his genre, including Antony Beevor and Simon Sebag Montefiore.  

In 2002, Peter Englund was elected to the Swedish Academy. In December 2008, Peter Englund was appointed the new Permanent Secretary of Swedish Academy. He held the position until June 2015.


Peter has received the following rewards:

Svenska Akademiens pris till Axel Hirsch minne (1989 & 1999) 
Augustpriset 1993
Nöjesguidens pris för ”Bästa Läsning”
De Nios pris
Piraten-priset
Selma Lagerlöf-priset
Bonniers essäpris
Uppsala universitets Disapris
Björn Nilsson-priset


Photo: Mikael Gustavsen

 

 

 

Four new works

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Denmark/Rosinante
Finland/WSOY
Germany/Rowohlt
Holland/Uniboek
Italy/Marsilio Editori
Norway/Cappelen Damm
Spain/Penguin Random House
UK/The Bodley Head
US/Knopf

#1. TRUE SCANDINAVIAN CRIME

In July 1965, a young woman was found dead in Stockholm. At first, her death was considered a suicide, but then it was discovered that she had been murdered, and that the killer had also sexually violated his victim. What followed would become the biggest and most complicated murder inquiry Sweden had ever seen. For a long time the police were baffled – initially they were not even sure how the young woman had died – and several people were arrested in connection with the crime, only to be cleared of all suspicions. Eventually a suspect was found and put on trial, on the basis of circumstantial evidence. He was acquitted, but after an appeal the case moved to a higher court, where the verdict was overturned and the accused convicted and sentenced to hospitalization.

True Scandinavian Crime will be a gripping account of this strange and complicated case, based on interviews and extensive research in both police and court archives. But it will also be much more, because Englund will tell the story in a different and highly original way. True Scandinavian Crime will, in fact, be three books in one: a classic true crime procedural, unfolding from the perspective of the police; a tragic story of a murder foretold, narrated from the victim's point of view; and a chilling journey into the warped mind of the killer, based on extensive personal notes and other documents of his that were discovered during the original investigation.

 

#2. TURNING POINT

In the autumn of 1942, the Axis powers were on the offensive on all fronts of World War Two. They looked unstoppable and likely to emerge victorious from the carnage. But within less than half a year, the tide had turned, and the victory of the Allies was only a matter of time. In Turning Point, Peter Englund homes in on these crucial six months in the history of the Second World War. As he did so masterfully in The Beauty and the Sorrrow, Englund will bring history to dramatic life through the individual stories of approx. 30 men and women of different ages and nationalities, all of whom experienced this cataclysmic event from different perspectives and in quite different ways.

The time period covered in Turning Point will be shorter than that of The Beauty and the Sorrrow and its focus therefore even more intense; at the same time, the book's canvas will be vast, taking the reader from the desert of Northern Africa and the frozen rubble of Stalingrad to the islands of the Pacific, from Berlin under attack by the Royal Air Force to the Warsaw Ghetto. Once again, Englund's primary interest isn't in giving us another top-down military history of the war, but in understanding it as a profoundly human experience. Turning Point will be an intimate history of the pivotal phase of World War Two.

 

#3. SUMMER OF PEACE

The summer of 1919 is mostly remembered for just one thing: the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which took place in late June of that year. One might be tempted, therefore, to call the summer of 1919 the “Summer of Peace” – but the truth is that it was anything but. World War One did not end in universal peace, but in something that looked very much like its opposite: the tensions within many of the warring nations, fed by but also kept largely at bay during the years of the global conflict, finally erupted.

In the summer of 1919, there was revolution and civil war in Germany, Russia, Hungary and the Baltic States, and unrest in many other countries – ranging from the general strike in Canada to the start of the May Fourth Movement in China. (Both Hitler and Mussolini made their first appearances, too.) The USA saw the worst race riots in its history, and anarchists staged a bombing campaign aimed at leading politicians. Other conflicts that started during that remarkable summer, including, for example, the Turkish War of Independence, were triggered by the very terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Summer of Peace won't be just a catalogue of the woes of peace, however, but an intricate tapestry that will weave together the run-up to the signing of the Peace Treaty and the strange weather that seemed to haunt Europe for months; the first transatlantic flight and the important gains made in the struggle for women's suffrage; the solar eclipse in late May, which proved once and for all that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was correct; and the introduction of jazz in Great Britain and the creation of the Bauhaus school in Germany.

 

#4. SNOW – A Short History

In the future, due to global warming, snow may become a rarity, a memory even. This is an elegy over this very special form of precipitation, focusing on its beauty and benefits, both is human history and in nature, and taking a very personal form – the author grew up in the northern parts of Sweden, not far from the polar circle, and has amassed a long and wide experience in the subject matter. The book discusses the role of snow in work and transportation, in peace and war, in economy, livelihood, art and play.

The organizing principle of this short book is one of the most renowned landscape paintings of the 16th century, the “Hunters in the Snow” by Pieter Breughel. Each chapter starts off with a discussion of a specific detail in this immensely rich painting, from which digrssions follow, often taking an unexpected route. This is not an encyclopedia over snow as such, that attempts to cram all possible facts about this phenomenon in between two covers, but instead a personal essay with a high density and a poetic touch. 

“The most readable historian in Sweden by far – one of our best authors over all, really. This book is a great achievement, a real page turner.”

EXPRESSEN, ABOUT “THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW”

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The Beauty and the Sorrow

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An intimate narrative history of World War I told through the stories of twenty men and women from around the globe – a powerful, illuminating, heart-rendering picture of what the war was really like.

In this masterful book, renowned historian Peter Englund describes this epoch-defining event by weaving together accounts of the mostly average men and women who experienced it. Drawing on the diaries, journals, and letters of twenty individuals from Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Venezuela, and the United States, Englund uses their varied perspectives to describe not a course of events but a ”world of feeling.”

Composed in short chapters that move between the home front and the front lines, The Beauty and the Sorrow brings to life people whose voices have until now remained unheard and lets them speak for all who were shaped in some way by the Great War.

In this fascinating and highly original historical piece of literary non-fiction, PhD. Peter Englund chooses a mosaic technique with an eye-witness perspective to illuminate an almost forgotten war while at the same time making evident that the conflict is still alive – only branched off to other wars.

The Beauty and the Sorrow is an unforgettable account that makes you feel what it was like during the war and at the same time makes you wish only to awake from the awful nightmare. This is how a war should be depicted.

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary since World War I was over.


Author:
Peter Englund

Original title:
Stridens skönhet och sorg

Published:
2008

Genre:
Non-fiction

Original publisher:
Atlantis

Reading material:
Swedish manuscript
English manuscript

632 pp.

Brazil/Companhia das Letras
Bulgaria/Universitetsko izdatatelstvo
China (Mainland, simplified)/China Citic Press
Czech Republic/Albatros Media
Denmark/Tiderne skifter
Estonia/Varrak
Finland/WSOY
France/Points
German/Rowohlt
Greece/Broken Hill
Italy/EINAUDI
Lithuania/Obuolys
The Netherlands/Unieboek
Norway/Cappelen Damm
Poland/Spoleczny Instytut
Portugal/Bertrand Editora
Russia/AST
Serbia/Geopoetika
South Korea
Spain/Roca
Taiwan/Acropolis
Turkey/Kelime Yayinlari
UK/Profile Books
Ukraine/Folio
US/Knopf


"Peter Englund is one of the best writers of our time on the tactics, the killing and the psychology of war. In The Beauty and the Sorrow he superbly and humanely brings to life all the tragedy, chaos, death and gunsmoke of battle" 

Simon Sebag Montefiori 

 

"It deserves its success because it is perceptive, humane and elegantly written. It never fails to keep the reader’s interest."  

Financial times

 

"Englund writes in a telegraphic present tense alive with detail ... this reader could detect no false notes in the narratives, which make this a literary as well as historical achievement"  

Guardian

"Whether considered as history or as literature – it is, of course, both – The Beauty and the Sorrow is radically original in form and epic in scope." 

Geoff Dyer

"In four decades of studying war, I’ve never read such a remarkable book ... Twenty lives, told in parallel, convey the war’s complexity better than any of the grand histories so far written ... What makes these characters so extraordinary is their eloquence. Englund knits their achingly evocative accounts into a riveting diary of war. He fills in the gaps with background research but grafts this onto his characters’ testimony so seamlessly that it seems as if the narrative is theirs, not his."

Washington post

 

"An unforgettable and unprecedented view of the war ... a beautiful tribute." 

San Francisco Chronicle

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