Avid Audible listener, I have a long commute to work and these books help to quickly pass the time.
I was hoping for an interesting weave of history of the time and a narrative, the political history description was well done in my opinion, but what was annoyingly distracting about the story were the adolescent sex scenes in the book. Really?The description of the sexual encounter at the opera was simply tacky and the wedding night romp in which the marriage could no be consummated because of size issues was laughable. It was at that point I put the book down.I'll admit I am not normally drawn to books with strong sexual content, but I have no problem with them either. I was drawn to this book because I believed the setting of the book,pre-World War I era, were intriguing times, and I wanted to immerse myself in a book of that subject, and the narrative to boot would make the book even more compelling. But the sex in this book read like something you would read on a public bathroom stall wall. I read Eye of the Needle years ago and loved it, but the sex scenes in this book were really pointless and, frankly, childish. Beware this book.
make the sex scenes not so ridiculous and adolescent
Can I get my money back?-Just kidding.
Do you remember how World War I started? Something about a Grand Duke assassinated in Sarajevo and the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, but how did shooting an Austrian grand duke lead to Prussia going to war with England and France, for Pete's sake? And why the US? Something about a Zimmerman note, whatever that was. Ken Follett makes this all live. Even though I knew that (spoiler alert) WWI was going to happen and that the US was going to join, and that it was going to be ghastly, horrible trench warfare, I still found it fascinating to watch history unfold. The various characters discussed the possible outcomes but events followed their own dreadful logic.
Most of the scenes in this book are 1. battles (street battles, trench warfare, whatever), 2. bodice-ripping love/sex, or 3. political discussions in which each of the (wooden) characters represents the ideas that would be expected of him or her. For example, we have the liberal young German diplomat and his traditionalist father; the conservative young British Earl and his bluestocking, suffagist sister; the liberal, young American presidential aide; and the Russian proletarian revolutionary and his ne'er-do-well brother. BUT, at the very beginning of the book, we meet the 13-year-old Welsh miner Billy Williams and live with him through his first day in the mine. We learn about Billy, his family, the mine, and his fellow miners and townsmen. I wish the rest of the book had been this vivid.
Yeah, right. After that first scene everything fades into types and cliches: liberal vs conservative; working class vs aristocrat; English, German Welsh, Russian, or American, male or female. Follet is, however, a skillful story teller and provides us with enough background on each character so that we can understand something about why they feel the way they do. The brutality of the Russia under the czars and the thinking that gave rise to this brutality is particularly well evoked.
Ken Follett took on a very ambitious project -- to tell the story of the 20th century in Europe and North America by telling the history of 5 families. So it's not War and Peace. It's still a fun listen. John Lee does a marvelous job of characterizing the speech pattern of each individual and that helps to individualize the characters. He is capable of switching accents from line to line. I particularly love his Welsh lilt.
Ken Follett brings history to life. His research into the causes and human motivations that bring war to our world are first-rate. Follett has become my favorite historical fiction author.
John Lee is nothing short of amazing as he brings the characters to life.
loved john lee. Amazing multiple accents.As for one of my favorite authors: Follett took a nose dive.
Fewer characters, less complicated plots.
yes, not finish it.
I would rate all of his other books, good or very good. This was extremely boring.Too much talk and not enough action.
I normally listen to factual History books and was in the mood for some fiction. Based on prior reviews, I took a chance with "Fall of Giants" not knowing anything about the author. I was thrilled with my purchase.
The story starts in South Wales prior to 1st world war and rapidly introduces you to different characters that will keep coming up throughout the period that span different geographic regions of Europe, Russia and US and it's sociological changes.
It is a long listen, which was good for me as I travel a lot, but the many chapters are brief so it was easy to listen for short periods without loosing tract.
I will listen to the next book as the next generation pick up the story.
I prefer audio books. More comfortable for sure and I eat books faster when I listen to them.
The books I know are all classics. Can not compare the uncomparable.
No. This is a discovery for me.
I like Billy. We see him grow from innocence to experience gradually.
I like Audible. :) Honestly.
Avid book lover and listener. Nuff said for this purpose.
Insight into how it affected allot of the German people, those not brainwashed by Hitler.
The reasoning given for what started the war.
Just about everything
Neither. But that's not to say there weren't parts that were very moving. Especially the feelings on all sides of families that lost relatives/friends in the war.
As brilliant as the book is, my wife being from England and whose mother worked in war effort, said she would have liked to have heard more about the devastation of France, Holland, and the UK. The blitz was horrific destroying so much of these countries. She felt it gave more on the destruction of Germany. Me, being an American, didn't see it that way. Follett presented the material in such a way that most all could get a sense of how the war and by projection all wars are the result of not the masses but few arrogant factions. While balancing the ultimate choices of the countries involved in the initial conflict with how circumstances led otherwise intelligent, compassionate people to purposely kill each other, demonstrates the selfish reasons which lead us into world wars!
I really liked the way Follett follows the families from opposing sides showing how they were personally affected. One could empathize with how each felt drawing families on opposing sides under one umbrella of understanding. On a grand scale this could certainly be the platform on which the people of each country in this world might rise up and through these common bonds of humanity deter the small group of self-serving maniacal power/money hungry leaders from garnering support needed to take a nation to war.At least one can hope.....
Get the book(s), a great history of the world wars and more importantly a super, well told story. You won't be disappointed.Follett is one of the best writers of our times. Research is meticulous and his insight uncanny. Others said places in the book dragged on. Since its so long no, not every page was riveting, but it kept my interest throughout. Each bit with its small nuances related to every other part of the book so you don't want to skip over anything.
As an entreprenuer, it is hard for me to shut off my brain! It is also hard for me to sit still! I love audibles! I can exercise, work on "chores" , travel and be entertained! Always looking for a good story!
You will enjoy living the events preceding, during and immediately following WWI from mutiple points of view! And the narrator was one of the best. OMG, I couldn't believe how well John Lee could change between accents and vary his cadence of speech to match each of the characters! Normally I like spy/murder mysteries with interesting characters. This novel is a much richer and multi-dimensional and I am the better for having read it! Thank you Ken Follett!
The narrator's mastery of all the accents and characters made the story come alive. The prose was not the greatest ever, but the story moved, and was captivating. I liked how the history was so seamlessly woven into the story. There were many times when a character or event was mentioned, and I went to look it up on the history to see how the actual event compared with the way the story portrayed it. You really do get connected to the characters, though some of them seemed two-dimensional. I think my only complaint was that the end of the book seemed to drag a bit. All in all I think it is a great book.
I could listen to John Lee for hours. Oh, wait...I DID listen to him for hours. I generally like tales set in the turn of the (twentieth) century, so this was my cup of tea. John Lee's narration was icing on the (tea) cake.