Ken Follett here follows up his number-one New York Times best-seller Fall of Giants with a brilliant, pause-resistant epic about the heroism and honor of World War II and the dawn of the atomic age.
Fall of Giants, the first novel in his extraordinary new historical epic, The Century Trilogy, was an international sensation, acclaimed as "sweeping and fascinating, a book that will consume you for days or weeks" (USA Today) and "grippingly told and readable to the end" (The New York Times Book Review). "If the next two volumes are as lively and entertaining as Fall of Giants," said The Washington Post, "they should be well worth waiting for."
Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.
Carla von Ulrich, born of German and English parents, finds her life engulfed by the Nazi tide until she commits a deed of great courage and heartbreak.... American brothers Woody and Chuck Dewar, each with a secret, take separate paths to momentous events, one in Washington, the other in the bloody jungles of the Pacific.... English student Lloyd Williams discovers in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War that he must fight Communism just as hard as Fascism.... Daisy Peshkov, a driven American social climber, cares only for popularity and the fast set, until the war transforms her life, not just once but twice, while her cousin Volodya carves out a position in Soviet intelligence that will affect not only this war - but the war to come.
These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century. From the drawing rooms of the rich to the blood and smoke of battle, their lives intertwine, propelling the reader into dramas of ever-increasing complexity.
As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With passion and the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.
©2012 Ken Follett (P)2012 Penguin Audiobooks
The book is almost a Socialist propaganda piece. All the characters "saving the world" are left wing socialist. All the narrow minded selfish characters destroying democracy are conservative right wing supporters. If you can get past these dogmatic and heavily biases political undertones, it is a great story, well written and informative.
The author is an obvious liberal and takes every opportunity he can to bash conservatives and Republicans. It would have been better to leave his bias at home.
I am not sure.
The reader is good and keeps a good pace.
The history is interesting, if one can believe all of it - but it is written in a very one-sided way. Real history is just not one-sided.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
"The Fall of Giants" was a great book. I have been reading every book I can find about WW1 and this was one of the great ones. "Winter of the World" takes us into WWII and up to the cold war. I was a bit disappointed that Follett did not put as much emphasis on the social changes as he did in the "Fall of Giants" but he did put emphasis on what people or individuals had to do to survive in impossible situations. As in the first book this book follows the five interrelated families, American, German, Russian, English and Welsh. The book starts with the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Hitler. The key historical figures are not forgotten but also play a roll in the book such as, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler and FDR and Truman. He does cover some of the less well known aspects of the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the war in the Pacific but the major part of the war was based on the war of the eastern front. He does show how much more Russia did in the war when most English language book focus on the roll of England and America on the western front. John Lee did a great job narrating the book. Follett has left me wanting volume #3. Both of Follett's books are worth reading every few years or so, there is much to learn in the re-reading of a series like this one.
This is the 2nd part of Ken Follet's Century Trilogy and I recommend reading The Fall of Giants before Winter of the World. Follet is a masterful historic fiction writer. He fully researches the time period for the story's background and creatively weaves his characters in and out of real events. If you like history, then you'll love his epic sagas. Although, you cannot have a weak stomach. It was a horrendous time in history, but people still had to go on living their lives. His characters can be viciously cruel as they are passionately intriguing. He spares nothing when telling a story. As much as he'll have you turning pages quicker than speed reader Evelyn Wood, he'll also have you wanting to slam a fist through a wall into one if the character's head. His books have a tendency to elicit a wide range of emotion, but they are addicting! Narrator John Lee is well cast and a fantastic reader. Can't wait for the last part!
I'm starting to wonder, after hundreds of Audible books and four years as a subscriber, if I am burning out on listening to books. The last several I've listened to have been underwhelming. Winter of the World is, unfortunately, no exception, and even goes beyond underwhelming to just plain annoying.
I doubt anyone would imagine Ken Follett's work as literature. It can be entertaining, and I liked Pillars of the Earth and World Without End well enough.The characters were interesting and the way their lives overlapped and entwined kept me involved. But the wheels started to come off with Fall of Giants, where a suspicious character makes repeated appearances without his role ever coming to resolution. What was he doing there?
Winter of the World is, alas, not even entertaining. Much has been written with World War II as a backdrop, and perhaps there's not much new to say about it. If that's the case, then don't write a book. This one is just a rehash of things that have already been explored, and with far greater skill, by other authors - such as, but not limited to, Herman Wouk.
Plenty of things in Winter of the World ring hollow and fall flat. An acute example involves Robert, a man who lost his restaurant to the brown shirts in Germany, and who witnessed the brutal murder of a loved one at their hands (graphically described early in the book). Three years later, safe in England, he's talking to another witness to this awful event, and he comments that his old restaurant in Berlin is still open. The two pause as if in reflection, and Robert then comments, "They don't use white tablecloths anymore." Really? Is this the level of bitterness and regret engendered by witnessed - and narrowly escaped - brutality?
John Lee is a narrator I usually enjoy, but perhaps he realized he was not narrating a Great American Novel. He falls in and out of stereotypical accents, and worse, he whines to indicate a young woman's delivery of dialogue. It was bad enough that half the time, I couldn't figure out if I was listening to a sex-starved 10 year old or a lusty young woman scouting for a rich husband. The aforementioned Robert is said to speak flawless unaccented English, but then Lee slips into his dialogue with a German edge on the accent.
All in all, it's just tiresome. And at nearly 32 hours, that's a long time to feel tired.
I have listened to ALL of Ken Follett's books. Pillars and WWE as well as his other, older novels and I just could NOT get into this one. Seemed to go on and on and on and on with nothing that grabbed me.
Of course John Lee did a super job, as always. The story just didn't have any punch. It was like he had a committment to meet and just wrote SOMETHING.
No, no and NO-sorry. Total snoozefest
The history refresher was good, but the story told was a bit dull. Fall of Giants and Pillars of the Earth are better books than this.
I am looking forward to the next one.
Granted the period the story takes place is one of the darkest in world history, and it is hard to spin a "positive" story with that offset. It is still a good listen.
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.
I read the first novel in The Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants a couple of years back. I enjoyed it a lot but for some reason I put off reading the second book. After starting a couple of books that I couldn't get into I decided to jump back in. For those that don't know this is a trilogy of novels that takes place from 1900-2000 and follow a number of different families from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.
Winter of the World takes place right after the events of Fall of Giants. So right right at the end of World War I and the rise of Nazi Germany. What's fascinating about these novels are reading about the daily lives of those who lived through these world wars. Forget the battles but what about the people back at home? What was it like for a young German girl in Berlin for example who opposed to Nazi's? It's an interesting question and one that Follett does a great job with and was by far my favorite part of both Winter of the World and Fall of Giants.
My biggest issue with both books but more so Winter of the World was keeping track of all the moving parts. There were a number of characters in the first book that now have families of their own and trying to keep track of it all is difficult. There were several times where I knew there was significance to an interaction but couldn't place where these characters paths crossed in earlier novels.
Needless to say even though I couldn't place all of the characters I still really enjoyed Winter of the World. It does a great job of having some of the key characters involved with many of the major world events of the time period (WWII, Pearl Harbor, Atom Bombs). I'm now even more excited to finish off the trilogy this fall when Follett releases the final book in the series.
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