A huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.
It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to immigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, FALL OF GIANTS moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.
©2010 Ken Follett (P)2010 Penguin Audio
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Probably the best audio book I have ever downloaded. The narrator is brilliant at keeping the book alive with good accents for different characters. The story itself is also great, i didn’t know too much about this period and almost nothing about the Bolsheviks in Russia but this novel takes you through it on a level at which anyone could relate to the experiences of the characters.
Funny, thrilling, interesting and educational.
Write another one please!
"What a discovery"
I have found this an absolutely absorbing listen, and have even found myself drawn to listen to another chapter at times outside my normal listening schedule. It has encouraged me to purchase a further two of the author's books as I had not listened or read any of his books before.
"A superb historical novel"
There are many novels based on the impact of the First World War on peoples’ lives but none better than this book. The factual content is an excellent analysis of how countries slipped into what turned out to be a disaster and a salutary reminder of how hubris and stupidity can change the course of history. Where this book scores over a straight historical account of the period is that the author creates such engaging characters who are deftly inserted into this tumultuous period of world history whose fates become personally important and whose imaginary lives illustrate forcefully the impact of the war on all strata of society, on women and countries across the world. The book isn’t jingoistic in that there are sympathetic characters as well rogues and autocrats from both sides of the conflict though there is more sympathy for the ordinary people than for those with influence over events.
I was engrossed for over 30 hours by superb story-telling, excellently narrated, and will be downloading the next part, Winter of the World, as my next listen.
Gripping novel which kept me hooked! I think this has helped me understand the causes and the length of World War 1 more than any history lesson ever did at school. I really hope Ken Follett follows it up with a sequel as the characters were so realistic and would love to know how their lives evolve....maybe during World War 2? Would recommend unreservedly!
I was engulfed in the story from the start when a 13 year old boy starts work in the welsh coal mine. From here it seamlessly moves around linking 5 different families and follows their lives before, during and after the first world war. This is probably the longest novel I have read (listened to!!) but possibly the best to date. I couldn't wait to listen to the next installment and I'm afraid to admit that my household chores have suffered a bit due to this book. I loved it!! I hope you do too.
"Follett at his best..."
I loved this book, it really gripped me. Written in Follett's usual well paced style with strong female characters (who he always has in his stories) the whole book was just so interesting to me as I knew so little about the era. of course Follett shows us the horrors of war but the idea to depict it back "back home" with all the telegrams from the losses at the Somme arriving all at once was genius. Really moving. Can't wait for the other two sequels. John Lee does his usual great job in the narrators chair and is never pedestrian.
A fantastic view of the political and emotional battles in the early 20th Century. Before reading this book if someone had asked me why the First World War was fought, I would have answered "something about an assassination of an Austrian Arch Duke". Now I know the reality, and having always found history books boring, this is brilliant. The characters are wonderfully interwoven with real historical people, that brings this very relevant story to life.
I keep recommending this book to friends. It's one of those books that both educates and entertains - a real winner as I feel I'm improving myself rather than simply indulging in escapism. If the sheer size of the traditional paper version puts you off, then this is definitely one to do audio-style. The narration is spot on.
Rich story-telling in satisfying Follett style. I happened to be listening to the Battle of the Somme as we reached Remembrance Sunday this year - right at the time the papers were full of photos of the poppies at the Tower of London. Really quite poignant.
Setting the key families in the UK, Germany, Russia and the USA gives the listener a very full picture of the world at the time. A fabulous window to history.
I have just finished listening to book two in the series - just as good, though equally harrowing in places. Feeling slightly shattered - the world really did get itself into a right mess, didn't it? Book three has just been released.....fingers crossed it's of the same standard.
"An interesting piece of social history"
I learnt a lot about the class system in the early 20th century and the reasons for the first world war. The book follows five families: Welsh miners, English aristocracy, German Aristocracy, American upper class and Russian peasants. The story is well woven together, slow at times but enough to keep you interested at all times. I found the book thought provoking and was left wondering why we did not have a revolution in the UK after WW1. Maybe if we had 90% of the wealth would not be with 10% of the people as it is in the early 21st century. (My age group 50-60).
"An absolute must"
Mr Follett has done it again, a brilliant mixture of facts and fiction, believable characters and an exciting stroyline. I will admit that I did struggle at the beginning, the narrator spoke rather fast and I had to get used to the different accents pretty quickly to be able to keep up but once I did I couldn't stop listening. I am an avid reader and I will read the book as well... yes, it's that good!
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