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
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"Winter of The World"
I was gripped by the plot in this book it was the follow on from Fall of Giants and it really brings home what happened to everyday people the trauma and hardship they endured during the war. The horrific time the german females had to endure the cruelty and how they tried to overcome this. I hope there will be another book in this series as i would like to see how they managed under the Russian rule and if the family managed to meet up again
"A long but captivating "read""
This is a B I G. Book in more ways than one. It is superbly constructed, and builds meticulously while ensuring the listeners/reader is right there, waiting for the next event, next description, next surprise.
There is much to commend in this Follet novel and little to detract, but it is a long captivating novel that does not disappoint.
"Wow, what have I been missing."
My first Ken Follett book and the good news for me was that he has a huge back catalogue that I can wade through. I cannot believe I had never read any of his books before.
Based purely on another reader's review I took a chance and what a world this has opened up for me. This is what I would class as easy reading despite the size of many of his books.
I am currently reading a third book by this author and am equally entralled with this book.
Loved the details and getting know the characters and my only regret is this will be one less book to read but thankfully there are many more.
"A saga of four families"
This sequal to The Fall of Giants is an exciting historical story of the lead up to and the involvement of 4 families, during the second world war. Follett has guided us through some of the major events of the war and clevery intertwined the families from New York to Moscow. A book worth reading which will keep any lover of historical novels, enthralled right up to the last pages.
Having read or listened to both Pillars, World without end and Fall of Giants I was eager to get stuck into Winter of the World. As with the other Ken Follett Books I had previously read the subject matter never did motivate me to rush out and start them.
Having just finished this book I can quite happily say it did not dissapoint and was even better than its prequel Fall of Giants.
The book almost acts like a time machine taking you back in time with the people and places. It is fantastic with its terrifying portrayal of Nazi Germany and the ruthless hirearchy of Soviet Communism. There are times you cannot wait to listen on with suspense and excitement and there are also times when it brings you to tears through desolation of human beahaviour.
I cannot wait for part three, even though I know it is not a period of history I relish I am confident Ken Follett will still draw me in like no other author.
Another point I must mention about this book is the reader Jon Lee. Having listed to hundreds of Audio books he is without doubt one of the best. This guy could read the phone book and make it sound interesting. I will listen to anything he reads but this is one of his best.
Some parts of this novel are excellent. The story ranges across the world and over the years at a cracking pace, covering the major events of war and peace in the 20th century. Follett uses in-depth, painstaking research and strives for realistic historical perspectives. He draws plausible representations of differing political views but with sympathies naturally tending to the democratic centre-left. I never found it boring and the action scenes are exciting and well-written. Those are the good parts.
The bad parts, in my opinion? Well, for an author who's sold over 100 million books, the overlying story of characters caught in love and war is astonishingly naive. The reader must suspend all critical disbelief as the plot repeatedly turns on one massively implausible coincidence after another. Also, major characters continually run across each other in the most unlikely circumstances in remote and hostile parts of the globe. And some fairly humble characters just happen by present when Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin etc shape major world events. To reveal examples here would spoil the story for potential readers, but be warned.
Also, most of Follett's dialogue is laboured and doggedly middle-class ("my dearest darling, do be careful and don't get yourself killed by those beastly Germans.") The rest of the time he patronisingly caricatures working class stereotypes. The worst part for me, though, is that his sex and love scenes are awesomely awful. It's not just that they are bad, they are toe-curling and cringe-making.
As for the audio, the narrator does a good job, give or take some bizarre foreign accents.(Effery German vill alvays spick like this - even when conversing together in their own language.)
All in all though, I'd still recommend this book for it's epic span, the differing perspectives of the 20th century, and its narrative about a world that has now gone. But given its shortcomings, I might be generous in giving it 3 stars.
"Not for me"
I had to stop listening to this. I usually like this narrator but I did not enjoy how he spoke in the story. The subject matter was beyond what I could cope with.
I listen when walking and at the gym. A good book is a great incentive to exercise everyday and sometimes I do more than I mean to, simply because I can't stop listening. This is one of those books. Winter of the World has strong narrative drive, good characters and is exceptionally well read, plus it is l..o..n..g...(35 hours) so you certainly get your money's worth. Can't recommend it highly enough.
"Winter of the World"
I'm sure the story is worth reading (have now got a readable version) but for me the reader was terribly boring - a very stilted clipped voice - perhaps trying to be a German character - sorry but it really put me off - wasted my credit as far as I am concerned
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