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.
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.
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...
Some interesting facts and gives a good point of view how lives in different socialites were at different times. Liked the portrait of Soviet Union and now in book 2 you feel like you know and are caring for the different families.
I liked it because of a) nice weaving of stories of 5 families b) my way of learning about Europe through the two wars (Finished the first two of the trilogy).
Cast of thousands, story of the century, excellent use of idiom. It doesn't matter which characters you latch onto, the others are capable of holding your attention as well.
When the narrator describes the torture and murder of a character, the birth of a baby and the love of a man for his lady (or of lady to man) with the same impersonal description he'd use for describing the parts of a washing machine, you know he shouldn't be reading. Remember when you were five and wanted everyone to "do the voices"? Well, this narrator wouldn't know what the voices were. So insensitive that it's almost laughable.
An excellent listen. Really hope young people read this book, we should never forget! Highly recommended. Brilliant author and brilliant narrator!
"Winter of the World"
I'm a Ken Follett historical history fan from way back. There has never been anything other than a well-researched, brilliant novel. John Lee narrates the books like they were written for him. But Winter of the World has proved even Ken Follett can outdo himself! This should be required reading for history classes in England and the U.S. I have never been a real fan of the history of WWII but this was the easiest and most captivating history lesson I have ever had. Couldnt stop listening. You just cannot go wrong with this book it's a real winner.
Right, I have just finished listening to this epic story and I have to say I have not had an audio book like it. Having listened to the previous book in the series (Fall Of Giants) I thought that it would be impossible to top, well this one is even better. Great character development, well narrated and gripping. The story lines are interesting and in some parts deeply shocking with some, not graphic but disturbing descriptions of human behaviour. I noticed that this was a good book when I woke up in the middle of the night and started listening to the audio book hoping to drift off to sleep, then 4 hours later still awake I had to get up and go to work! The sooner the next book in the series is released the better. I would recommend this book to everyone!
"A heart-breaking but wonderful sequel"
This is part 2 of the Century Trilogy and I strongly recommend listening to part 1 first (Fall of Giants) as it introduces the characters and their offspring who straddle the series and whose lives illuminate the horrors and heroics of war more effectively than a merely historical account. As in part 1 of the trilogy this sequel blends fictional characters and real people together to achieve a narrative that left me feeling deeply involved in the lives of the imagined players before, during and after the Second World War. Both books powerfully evoke what life was like during these turbulent times in world history and help the listener to understand how and why these destructive wars came about. I found this second book more depressing than the first as the senseless inhumanity and cruelty was so extreme. Nevertheless I loved this magisterial book and felt sorry that it ended and eagerly look forward to part 3, Edge of Eternity, which, unfortunately is not yet available as an audiobook on this website, though it has been recorded.
John Lee is a superb narrator who brings all the characters to life.
The audible version is precisely that, it enabled me as a long distance Truck driver to listen to this book whilst driving . The printed version might have taken a whole lot longer to read and digest
Follett's characters are all so real , I had no favourites they were all so well described and written
The narration was superb , the characters brought to life through the change in his Voice
There was no particular moment , all historical facts and events were so well intertwined .The Death of the Jewish Doctor was particularly upsetting and made you realise how frustrating it must have been to be an educated Jew under the Nazi Regime.
Follet, as never disappointed to date. With his trilogy of the world he as written Classics that will last forever
"Another cracker from Ken!"
I love Ken's writing style, it's so easy to read and thus translates very well to audio. Well done John Lee. Beautifully read bringing another dimension to the characters and realism. This middle chapter of the trilogy was slightly too long - but what to leave out??? Super story cannot wait for number 3.
"Setting a standard"
There are many stars in this audiobook. Obviously, the author is one - Ken Follett's majestic sweep both stirring and emotional. The next star is John Lee, who captures a wide variety of accents, from different countries and regions, as well as carrying off both male and female voices. He sets a standard for other narrators. Finally, the various characters shine like stars. Although it is obvious where Follett's sympathies lie, all the fictional characters are brought to life, while the 'real life' characters are realistic and invest the novel with further authenticity. You'll be sorry when you have finished, but then, in two years' time, we'll have the final installment. It is unlikely to reach the heights of this novel, though, given the history that 'Winter of the World' covers.
"The horror of war"
Follet's story unfolds in a manner that really clamps ice around your heart, and vicariously one gets a feel for the horror that both civilians and soldiers experienced, and for the utterly bizarre social circumstances that war creates
Such well developed characters. I even felt for the Germans in this battle, you find yourself wanting them all to come out of it well.
"Great author, Brilliant narrator"
I have enjoyed every one of Ken Follet's historical novels and this is certainly one of his best. But, what really makes the audiobook special is the narrator, John Lee. I am in awe of his narration skills and have begun to search for his books, regardless of the author. Thank you John for bringing great books to life.
Brilliant and fascinating. Covers family life in Britain, Germany and America throughout the Second World War. Horrifying and spellbinding. Highly recommend this book.
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