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
Very enjoyable sweeping historical novel on WWII. Again amazed at Folet's ability to write a compelling story on so broad a subject in such an engrossing way. He's definitely grown as a writer. Also, I liked the narration.
Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.
This story is compelling and tightly woven with flawless interweaving of historical events. This is a great historical novel. My only comment is that the numerous plot coincidences were a little contrived but served the story well in the end. I couldn't stop listening and looked forward to ironing every week!
The author is a long-time supporter of Britain's Labour party and it sure shows in the way that he tells the story. All supporters of the Labour Party are intelligent, articulate, kind, etc. Any supporters of other parties are foolish, vain and wrong-headed. And it doesn't stop in Britain. Labour's closest equivalent in Germany (i.e. left of centre) are the Social Democratic Party. All Social Democrats in the books share all of the sterling qualities of Labour party supporters mentioned above. No other German party (including other democratic ones) has any good qualities, intelligent or thoughtful supporters.
I get that the author doesn't like Nazism or communism but that he paints such a black-and-white picture of democratic parties and all of their supporters that it becomes tiresome to say the least.
The ridiculous number of coincidences (the 4-5 main characters experience so many of the major episode/issue over the 1933-49) that it becomes laughable. Walk down the street in Berlin to see the commotion? Happen to overhear Hitler discuss the Reichstag fire in the Reichstag itself. Short trip to Hawaii? That turns out to be the weekend of bombing of Pearl Harbour. And on and on.
Interesting story in places but it comes across as being amateurish in so many ways.
This history was interesting, but the way Follett places his characters into key historical circumstances and intersects them is too contrived and by midway through the book becomes predictable and laughable.
Would I recommend this book to a friend? Depends on the friend. If this friend were a Liberal, a Socialist, or even a Communist, s/he would eat it up and beg for more. If this friend were a Republican and/or Free Market Capitalist, then this series (especially Book 2) would, at the very least, leave them scratching their heads at just how little impact Social Conservatives, Capitalism, and Western Individualism apparently had on the course of World War II. This friend might be especially disheartened to read that, for example, Winston Churchill played virtually no role in the Allied victory, other than getting in the way of the more enlightened Socialists. Finally, if this friend were a Libertarian, they would quickly realize that this is history presented with an unmistakable slant, transparently written to further a personal polical and social agenda (Liberalism/Socialism/Collectivism = Good; Conservatism/Capitalism/Individualism = Bad), and therefore, is a very subjective -- and thus ersatz -- "historical" fiction cloaked in a solemn -- and unearned -- mantle of Objective History.
"When I finish a good book, I feel like I've lost a friend." -- My Mom
We gave Fall of Giants very high marks and looked forward to #2. But this one fell flat for us. Too many characters involved in old-fashioned soap opera drama, drama, drama. Gave up on keeping names straight and the historical situations and just got through it.
Ken Follett knows how to tell a good story, but the characters are stock and there's nothing really surprising about what happens. While his books are a good way to learn history, Follett spends way too much time explaining things that are obvious to anyone above 3rd grade. And, his sex scenes are adolescent and cringe-inducing (come on Ken, the word "ejaculation" should never be used except in a sex-ed textbook). But, I managed to get through this book and the one before it, and I might even listen to the third when it comes out. They are embarrassingly addictive.
Possibly Follett, definitely Lee.
I had guessed from listening to this book and Fall of Giants that Follett must be atheist and very liberal. Research confirmed both.
John Lee as narrator does a fine job. Follett was so formulaic that I think an assistant must have written it from an outline. In fact, I was offended in many places. Yes. Offended. His throw-away to gays in the story was at best patronizing and at worst showed an old man trying to pass himself off as modern. It was false and offensive. Perhaps I know too many stories of WWII, seen too many movies, know too much history, but Follett brings no new insights, breaks no new ground. Quite a disappointment.
Yes. I will listen to Fall of Giants and Winter of the World before the final book of the trilogy comes out.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was as good as Fall of Giants. That seems not to be the norm. Was everything accurate? I'm not a scholar, so I don't know, but it was a terrific read. John Lee's narration was splendid.
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