I love books!
The second book in the latest Follett trilogy continues. This one starts in 1933 and ends at the beginning of the cold war, taking you through World War II. It doesn't really shed any new light on the history from this period but if you are a WWII buff, you'll enjoy the perspective this book brings. It continues the family histories begun in the first book and weaves the story from the Russian, German, British and American sides. It was an enjoyable listen and I look forward to the third book in the series, whenever it comes out.
Can't stop listening
Following the characters from the first book through the second book gave a very personal account of the political and economic events. Some periods, like Hitler's rise to power, have been covered in so many books, but other periods are rarely covered. Follett's books followed simultaneous stories. If you liked "Pillars of the Earth", you will love this.
John Lee's voice is very easy to listen to for long periods of time. Great for long car trips.
First of all this review is some what tainted by my enthusiasm for the first novel in the series. I felt in Fall of Giants that that author was able to weave together the separate plot lines, give a wonderful story and a broad history lesson. I fell Winter of the World fell short. Now this short coming is easily explained, the second world war is difficult to paint in such broad strokes, I felt that the holocaust was given very light coverage.
Furthermore as the genealogy expands from the first book the complexity of the plot lines became a bit muddled.
Finally, the first book in many instances gave us a front row seat, we were at dinner with the king, or in the office of the President etc etc, there was less of that in this book and I feel that it is the poorer for it.
Saying all that i still enjoyed the book.
If readers want to be fully immersed in the second world war in a similar style, Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance is your best bet
I am sure historical fiction is tough, especially such a large book filled with details. I thought this book was a little too much history and not enough fiction to emphasize the characters. The narrator is good (not great). Would recommend. Hoping for a great finale.
For this fan of Fall of Giants there was nothing better than hearing John Lee pick up where my favorite players in Europe, Russia and America left off. Winter of the World covers the period leading up to and the resolution of WWII. It is not necessary to read the series launch, Fall of Giants (I do highly recommend that book on its own merit).
This was maybe even more enjoyable then the first book as I had a better grasp of the history shaping the lives of the characters. Once again Follet spoils his reader with fascinating historical detail and context. My only complaint is how Follet contrives to interweave these families and puts someone at almost every import event in the time period. 31 hours wouldn’t suffer from a new character or two.
Historical fiction fans should not miss this one.
John Lee is perfection. His heavily accented reads are a treat for the ears.
The author is a long-time supporter of Britain's Labour party and it sure shows in the way that he tells the story. All supporters of the Labour Party are intelligent, articulate, kind, etc. Any supporters of other parties are foolish, vain and wrong-headed. And it doesn't stop in Britain. Labour's closest equivalent in Germany (i.e. left of centre) are the Social Democratic Party. All Social Democrats in the books share all of the sterling qualities of Labour party supporters mentioned above. No other German party (including other democratic ones) has any good qualities, intelligent or thoughtful supporters.
I get that the author doesn't like Nazism or communism but that he paints such a black-and-white picture of democratic parties and all of their supporters that it becomes tiresome to say the least.
The ridiculous number of coincidences (the 4-5 main characters experience so many of the major episode/issue over the 1933-49) that it becomes laughable. Walk down the street in Berlin to see the commotion? Happen to overhear Hitler discuss the Reichstag fire in the Reichstag itself. Short trip to Hawaii? That turns out to be the weekend of bombing of Pearl Harbour. And on and on.
Interesting story in places but it comes across as being amateurish in so many ways.
Ken Follett tells the World War II saga not only from inside Germany but inside German households, families and customs. After a long day I love coming home where life is peaceful and safe but German families lost this restorative tranquilness as the Natzi takeover grows into an uneasy lifestyle. The book is definately part of a series and is a better listen for having completed part one. John Lee, once again, does an outstanding job!
I'm starting to wonder, after hundreds of Audible books and four years as a subscriber, if I am burning out on listening to books. The last several I've listened to have been underwhelming. Winter of the World is, unfortunately, no exception, and even goes beyond underwhelming to just plain annoying.
I doubt anyone would imagine Ken Follett's work as literature. It can be entertaining, and I liked Pillars of the Earth and World Without End well enough.The characters were interesting and the way their lives overlapped and entwined kept me involved. But the wheels started to come off with Fall of Giants, where a suspicious character makes repeated appearances without his role ever coming to resolution. What was he doing there?
Winter of the World is, alas, not even entertaining. Much has been written with World War II as a backdrop, and perhaps there's not much new to say about it. If that's the case, then don't write a book. This one is just a rehash of things that have already been explored, and with far greater skill, by other authors - such as, but not limited to, Herman Wouk.
Plenty of things in Winter of the World ring hollow and fall flat. An acute example involves Robert, a man who lost his restaurant to the brown shirts in Germany, and who witnessed the brutal murder of a loved one at their hands (graphically described early in the book). Three years later, safe in England, he's talking to another witness to this awful event, and he comments that his old restaurant in Berlin is still open. The two pause as if in reflection, and Robert then comments, "They don't use white tablecloths anymore." Really? Is this the level of bitterness and regret engendered by witnessed - and narrowly escaped - brutality?
John Lee is a narrator I usually enjoy, but perhaps he realized he was not narrating a Great American Novel. He falls in and out of stereotypical accents, and worse, he whines to indicate a young woman's delivery of dialogue. It was bad enough that half the time, I couldn't figure out if I was listening to a sex-starved 10 year old or a lusty young woman scouting for a rich husband. The aforementioned Robert is said to speak flawless unaccented English, but then Lee slips into his dialogue with a German edge on the accent.
All in all, it's just tiresome. And at nearly 32 hours, that's a long time to feel tired.
Here is the response I received from customer care regarding the missing sections:
My name is Giovanny and I am happy to help!
I understand that you would like to know what parts of the “Winter of the Worlds” was missing so you can re-download it.. In part 3 at 3:53:49 there was a gap of information missing. The characters were discussing a new music student suddenly the playback jumps from that to the characters talking about spying on WW2 and then it jumps again to a different section in the book. To access the missing part please delete the current copy that you have of part 3 and re-download it from your My Library section.
As for the book itself, it took awhile for me to get back into the characters. My first impression was that this was a cheap imitation of Herman Wouk's Winds of War / War and Remembrance -- a soap opera using WW2 as a backdrop for the lead characters to interact with historical luminaries as they struggle with their own trials and tribulations.For this type of fiction I have to give Wouk the edge, but that may be because I read him first. By the end of the book I felt it did stand on its own and was a worthwhile read, though not as good Fall of Giants. I will download part 3 when it is released.
Addicted to Audible!
The second in this series does not disappoint. John Lee is a superb narrator - his talent to move between characters and voices/accents is amazing! As usual Ken Follett does his research and writes so well. The book serves up a great history lesson with just enough soap opera to keep my interest. Looking forward to Book 3.