Five linked families live out their destinies as the world is shaken by tyranny and war in the mid-20th century. Berlin in 1933 is in upheaval. Eleven-year-old Carla von Ulrich struggles to understand the tensions disrupting her family as Hitler strengthens his grip on Germany. Into this turmoil step her mother’s formidable friend and former British MP, Ethel Leckwith, and her student son, Lloyd, who soon learns for himself the brutal reality of Nazism.
He also encounters a group of Germans resolved to oppose Hitler - but are they willing to go so far as to betray their country? Such people are closely watched by Volodya, a Russian with a bright future in Red Army Intelligence. The international clash of military power and personal beliefs that ensues will sweep over them all as it ranges from Cable Street in London’s East End to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, from Spain to Stalingrad, from Dresden to Hiroshima.
At Cambridge Lloyd is irresistibly drawn to dazzling American socialite Daisy Peshkov, who represents everything his left-wing family despise. But Daisy is more interested in aristocratic Boy Fitzherbert - amateur pilot, party lover, and leading light of the British Union of Fascists. Back in Berlin, Carla worships golden boy Werner from afar. But nothing will work out the way they expect as their lives and the hopes of the world are smashed by the greatest and cruellest war in the history of the human race.
Winter of the World is the second novel in Ken Follett’s uniquely ambitious and deeply satisfying trilogy The Century. On its own or read in sequence with Fall of Giants, this is a magnificent, spellbinding epic of global conflict and personal drama.
©2012 Ken Follett (P)2012 Penguin US/Macmillan Digital Audio
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
I read Ken Follett's two mediaeval England books and they were riveting. Tremendous stories that kept me transfixed throughout. Next I read his World War I book and I have just finished listening to 'Winter of the World', the second book of this 20th century trilogy - the story of World War II.
Like the above-mentioned three books, this was a good entertaining story and very enjoyable. The only trouble is that Follett has to manufacture the plot so that every major character from his two basic families (Russian and Welsh) appears at key moments in the war and intervenes to change the whole course of the conflict: inventing the atom bomb, stopping Hitler from systematically killing disabled people, forming the united nations, passing the Nazi invasion plans to the Russians etc, etc.
Unfortunately, this stretches the credulity of the listener and it is always in the back of your mind that two families couldn't have had such an impact. This wasn't a problem with the mediaeval novels, because they were based in a small country with a small population , so it wasn't as far-fetched that the key characters could have such an influence on major historical events.
As for the narrator, he was generally pretty good, but he struggled a bit with some of the accents. At one point I wasn't sure if his Welshman was a Geordie or an Indian!
These were the only blemishes on what was otherwise a great listen.
I have always enjoyed Ken Follett and he didn't let me down with this book. He once more had me confused for a while with keeping up with the different characters as he zig zagged round the world, but then all of a sudden everything fell into place... great historical story teller...
The first novel in the series, "Fall of Giants" was a bit better, in my opinion, and compared to Herman Wouk's epic novel "The Winds of War", Ken Follett's book could have gone a lot deeper.Having just listened to Herman Wouk's World War II novels (very similar approach with fictional characters and real contemporaries mixed), Ken Follett's book just falls short.
Nevertheless, it's a very good effort to bring the horrors of war closer to today's audience.
See above - "The Winds of War" by Herman Wouk.
Solid, reliable performance.
A book easily read, my first Kollett book. I will certainly read others. The characters, as well as the times are well drawn.. Whilst I generally thought the book met all criteria as far as entertainment went, I felt there were times that it dragged perhaps it is to long and at times a little to much detail. Was I pleased to have bought it?, certainly, would I recommend purchase? very much so.
I really looked forward to this book. I'm not disappointed.
I must say that the most annoying thing about this audio book is that I personally really didn't enjoy the fact that John Lee makes voices - especially because it means that large parts of it is spoken in a German accent - sort of. I much prefer the reader to just READ the book aloud. I really think making voices are not suitable for a book for adults.
But I do see that other reviewers like it so I guess it's just a matter of preference.
'It always seems impossible until it's done.' (Mandela)
A brutal and honest fictional account of WWII. Should be compulsory reading. Let's not forget what happened in order to be alert and compassionate. Never again. Ken Follett did indeed show us the horrors and the goodness wars bring. Can't wait to read book 3.
Yes to me the dramatisation is brilliant and adds so much. Also I always listen while commuting and it makes the miles slip away.
Hard to pick - his characters are so plausible and varied.
His accents - truly amazing
Good grief no!
I probably would if I come to listen to the whole trilogy again, however this book though a rather strong follower of the first, starts to show some signs of my main problem with the trilogy which is that it starts loosing strength as time goes by on each chapter. Where the first book moved me and made me care, this one started to confuse me. I did enjoy it quite a lot but where the first book has is a 10, this one is a 8.5
Again the main feature is how cleverly the writer blends his characters into pivotal historical events, this allows you to experience the key moments of the XX century from the point of view of a person actually living them, this is aspect alone is awesome.
This trilogy should be a mandatory read for high school students, it could provide a newfound appreciation for history to them. I believe my favorite part of the book was... nah! won't spoil it for you, it worth reading / listening to it, trust me.
This would be an epic TV series, think Downtown Abbey meets Game of Thrones...
So. How to begin? I would love to say this was a great book, I enjoyed the first one. But I felt this book was more of an historical book rather than a literary novel. Ken Follet really knows his stuff however so I cannot fault him on that and I learned a few things! On a negative side there were far too many silly coincidences. Everyone crosses everyone else's path across Europe, Britain, USA and Russia, what are the chances! I even began to roll my eyes and I guessed that the British brother in the French resistance would be the one to discover his other brother in the fighter plane over France. And it becomes a little condescending when ken reminds us of things more than once, like he doesn't trust us to remember, I didn't like that, it wasnt helpful. And I actually listened to a whole part of a book on time and a half speed, the narration was just a little too slow for me. If u have read the first book I suppose you have to listen to this one but otherwise I wouldn't really recommend (saying that tho, I will probably read the third one when it comes out!)
"Brilliant .A well done story of family and history"
A well painted picture as characters from each country and the history is honestly told.
"Difficult review to write."
This book is so well written and transported me into the war-torn times in Germany, Russia, Britain and America. I have got to know the characters - (I re-read the first book in the trilogy before starting this - the second).
My problem is that I now have such a heavy heart - feeling as if I was 'there'. Such desolation and cruelty made me weep.
So, my reason for my troubled review, is that I was absolutely hooked- yet at the same time I could not carry on listening and had to give it a rest frequently. Excellently drawn characters that I grew to love - (or hate) such detailed insights into behaviour during the war - this really is a brilliant book - but I just feel SO sad.
John Lee reads well, and adds to the story.
"John Lee fails to ruin another book"
I really quite dislike John Lee's narration of this and the other books in the series. During periods with little dialogue and just his monotonous rhythm it us difficult to pay attention. However, to be fair he comes into his own when giving character to the voice parts. his characterisation is really very good.
As for the story: I felt it was a little more rushed and less detailed than the first book, but I very much enjoyed the characters old and new. There are thrilling bits, titillating bits and dramatic bits. All in all a pleasant historical romp.
I've not read the print version
There are so many. But I think is has to be when Carla sacrificed herself in place of Rebecca with the soldiers. I think I also have to say when Woody lost Joanne at Pearl Harbour.
A bit warped but I actually enjoyed the bit where Maude and Carla killed the Nazi soldier and had to dispose of the body. The subtle humour Ken Follett had added was brilliant.
Yes, if I could have sat for 30 hours or so and listened I would. I went late into the night many a time not wanting to 'put my iPod down'!
Totally absorbing. I love the way the real history is interwoven with the story and the way all the families are linked. I listened to all 3 in the series and felt a bit 'bereft' as there was no more to listen to. An absolutely must if you like real history interlinked with drama. And John Lee is absolutely amazing. His accents are brilliant and has such a listenable voice.
I was sorry it ended, every time I listened to more, there was less left.
Very fitting configuration to the first book.
"Winter of the World Ken Follett"
Another exquisite book in the series well read with an actor who articulated the characters really well
As always I would recommend that the actor checks up how to pronounce The Welsh language ?
"The 2nd book goes to a new level"
This covers the next generation from the 1st book, therefore works as a stand alone, but I wouldn't recommend not reading Fall of Giants. The 2nd world war is back drop to our families and adds to the previous stories and intertwines the story line at a pace, The length of the book does not seem noticeable as all to soon the closing statement from audible was heard.
Excellent story, as you would expect from this author. Very good narration. Overall well worth it in every aspect.
"Excellent book. Detailed and historically accurate"
Enjoyed it so much I couldn't put it down. Loved the accurate historical nature of this book.
If you want to read something gripping and based on true event then I recommend this.
The narrator did a good job of distinguished between the many characters.
The only criticism is the chapters don't correspond to the content - but this does not distract in any way from the quality.
Report Inappropriate Content