Am a great fan of Ken Follett. Read ALL of his works. Am disappointed after having listened to Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Would have been a so so listen regardless.
I would listen to this again and eagerly await the final instalment in the trilogy. Follett knows history and although his focus on creating left-leaning (but not necessarily Communist) heroes is overdone, he attempts to provide balance and his overall treatment of WWII is fair and frequently keenly insightful and thought provoking. The intertwining of his fictional characters with the portrayal of actual historical players is handled deftly. Although the coincidences are objectively far-fetched, his ability to weave a compelling story with distinctive, complex characters prevents the listener from rolling his or her eyes too often. The true hero of this book is Carla, the young German raised by Social Democratic (Socialist) parents who takes enormous risks and makes great sacrifices in order to counter the Nazi culture permeating her homeland. In yielding to the culture of our post-Christian 21st century, Follett presents this character as a "saintly" atheist, when it would be more likely that a German possessing her radical righteousness and love for humanity would have probably been a devout and authentic Christian.
I'm confused by Follet's need to often graphically detail the early sexual encounters of almost every character, and half way through my listen, I began to wonder if this author might be a bit obsessed with this intimate aspect of our humanity; the sex scenes started to get boring and somehow I can't help but wonder if he was trying desperately to illustrate that there was little difference between today's sexual mores and the sexual behaviour of Western society over 60 years ago. I think he may have strayed a little from the historical evidence in this regard.
I would compare Herman Wouk's "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" to this book, by virtue of the intertwining of compelling fictional and historical characters and simply by the similarities in their handling of historical fiction. I would suggest, however, that although Follet matches Wouk in storytelling, Wouk is the greater master of English prose.
John Lee is a superb reader, although at times he reveals a somewhat monotone reading voice. His ability to provide the characters with authentic-sounding native accents is no less than remarkable, easily transitioning from a working-class Welsh speaker to an upper-class English accent, to the vocal depiction of a Southern U.S. soldier with amazing ease. Sometimes men struggle with giving their characterizations of women's voices authenticity, but Lee manages this beautifully. This man is one of the great audiobook actors.
I was pleased to listen to an account of WWII which did not demonize the entire German nation, highlighting the heroic acts of individuals who either overtly (as in the case of the Catholic priest who spoke out against the euthanasia program and was subsequently executed) or covertly worked to limit the powers of the Nazi regime. I was also pleased with Ken Follett's reference to the profound similarities between the oppressive totalitarian natures of both Nazism and Communism. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a 20th century history buff, or even more importantly to someone who needs to know more about WWII, but finds non-fiction boring.
Once again, I would place a caution on this book for younger readers, or for those who desire a great work of historical fiction but who do not feel the need for frequent descriptions of sex acts which may be at first titillating, but which eventually become ridiculous and intrusive by their frequency.
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.
This is a strong, interesting, well written and superbly performed historic pot boiler which may on occasion play a little fast and loose with the facts but makes up for that with a compelling narrative drive. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good book. It’s a long and at times harrowing read which deals with the rise of Fascism and World War Two through to the start of the Cold War. What is a little irksome is the structure which relies on coincidences which draw the main actors to just the right place at the right time. It’s a device he used to great effect in Fall Of Giants but it’s wearing a tiny bit thin in this second episode. In his much under rated movie Zelig Woody Allen has his character show up in pretty much every major news event of the 20th century to great comic effect. The frequency with which his protagonists pop up at just the right place and time to witness firsthand the salient event of WWII does stretch credibility just a little here and there. Having said that, it’s still a terrific read.
I was a little troubled by a couple of historic inaccuracies which I noticed….for example one plot line features the Nazi T4 euthanasia program which actually happened in a Berlin suburb but Follett sets in a remote small town well outside Berlin. Follett dwells in gruesome detail on the mass rape carried out by the invading Red Army but almost completely ignores the entire Holocaust. Working through the events covered in this book it’s almost inevitable that the political bias of the author will show through from place to place. It’s pretty clear that he has a soft spot for the working class heroes of the British Labor movement with a healthy contempt for aristocracy of any kind. These books are also fairly racy, certainly not for the under 16 set. If you enjoyed Fall of Giants you will likely love this book. If you haven’t read FOG yet, start there and you will likely follow straight on to this second book with your eye on the release date of the third in the series.
This history was interesting, but the way Follett places his characters into key historical circumstances and intersects them is too contrived and by midway through the book becomes predictable and laughable.
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.
Best: A look at the transition from Nazi to Communist (with a capital C) and similar weaknesses
Worst: Story was too contrived with characters showing up at every important historical moment. Also horrible Buffalo accent.
Depends on what the reader's goal of reading this is. For someone who has very limited knowledge of WWII it is a good review.
Again, horrible Buffalo accent, sounded like lower Brooklyn
It made me hesitant to read the third segment of the trilogy
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.
I'm a APP. PROFESSIONAL and love it!! I have over 100 books in my library and not stoping any time soon!! Thanks audible!!
I just finished the second book of the Century Trilogy, it was great. I thought Ken could have talked about the characters in the first book more,he went straight to all their kids and hit and missed with everyone else.I think the book is great with the history timeline how he puts everyone in the real true event is awesome!!! The love story's the family troubles makes the book real... I can't wait tell the third book.. Must read but start with the first book you will love it!!! One day the Century Trilogy will be on the big screen!!! I Hope!!!