A huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.
It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to immigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, FALL OF GIANTS moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.
©2010 Ken Follett (P)2010 Penguin Audio
I really wanted to like this book. I have been a keen student of 20th century history since high school, 40 years ago.
Alas I found myself unable to really engage with the characters, finding them rather cardboard cutout. I could not help feeling that each was created purely to act as a vehicle to show key historical moments and most of the conversations they had, tended to give us lengthy history lessons. The fact that they seemed to somehow turn up at key points of world events of the time, I found clunky.
The book is redeemed to an extent by some great descriptions, the delivery of casulty telegrams being one good scene.
Overall, while i have no argument with the accuracy of the events portrayed, I feel that Mr Follet may have been better to have reduced the scope of the epic and used history as a background to the characters lives rather than awkwardly dropping them into each significant event. Not a book I could immerse myself in, rather, I skipped along the top, unable to find a way in
This audiobook is worth every cent and every second. I would very happily recommend this book to family and friends.A masterful piece.
Ken Follett is an outstanding author. Yet, I find it very hard to compare one skilled writer's work with other skilled writer's work, even of the same genre, as their styles often differ quite dramatically... and so attempting to compare their work is a bit like debating which is the best type of friut.I can, however, state that there is no better wordsmith for his standard and style of work. The way he keeps your attention from start to finish, never under nor overstating life and it's bare,sometimes brutual, sometimes sensual, but always honest realities. He just weaves you into the lives of his characters and never lets you breath until he's finished.
I have not heard John Lee's performance before, but his reading style is personable and clever. His interpretation of humour is simple and real, and his ability to hold your utter attention in dramatic moments is highly skilled. Brilliant performance... and I will be pleased to listen to any of his other readings.
I certainly laughed at times. And, I was certainly provoked to deep consideration of incidents and experiences, astonishment for the intricate manipulations of the war machine of the early 20th century, disgust for the polarised standards of rights and responsibilities, and I was prompted to empathy,sadness and even tears for the distainful attitude of negligence for life.
Brilliant work. Exceptional story. Plot and networking to real events was outstanding. An utter pleasure that I was sad to finish. A clever, highly skilled work that will stay with listener for some time... Superb!!
This is an enormous book. It tells the story of 5 different families in the years from 1910 to 1924. The research involved must have been immense and the book is almost successful. Perhaps this should be two books because I felt that the different stories all lost dynamism in cutting from one to the other. Nonetheless this is what might be called a 'jolly good read'.
I felt that the writing about the fighting on the Somme, the leading up to it and the reasons for it's dreadful body count were among the best I have read.
The audible version was rather spoilt for me by the reader who attempted numerous accents with varying degrees of success. I also cannot see why a German or Russian needs to speak with a strong German or Russian accent if he is speaking in his native tongue.
Tell us about yourself!
This was a book really worth listening to. Not only was this due to Follett's strong narrative skills but because it was read by John Lee: he read with calm objectivity which linked his outstanding management of the many voices and the accents ??? wonderful acting.
This is an interpretation of the major events of one hundred years ago ??? the causes and the conduct of the first world war, rise of the Bolsheviks, the Versailles treaty and unionism, amongst many compelling themes. Follett demonstrates the human tragedy, the waste and pointlessness of war, the foibles and careless decisions of many of the leaders, both military and industrial (leaders coming from the so called ruling classes), the fights for women's rights. He clearly shows where he feels the seeds for future wars were laid.
And all this is very human as he interlaces stories of the personal lives of interesting characters.
So, one hundred years later, what have we achieved from the hell of the battle of the Somme? It was not easy to watch the news and ask whether the modern decisions of giants, the desperate current revolutions are just mirror images of the limits to humanity that Follett presents.
Yes absolutely!! Fall of Giants is compulsive listening. I got so involved in the characters lives, loves and losses. A great insight to the different classes of the time and how war impacts on them. Love Ken Follett books - this is the third novel I've listened to.
I love this narrator! I so enjoy listening to him, he has wonderful tone and a beautiful accent and he reads at the right pace - not too slow, not too fast, and I was able to absorb the story fully. He can switch accents several times in one sentence - amazing, and brings the characters to life! I actually look for books that are read by John Lee now.
The story is one of fiction wrapped amongst fact. The ability to read a story immersed in a great plot but at the same time learning fact is delightful and entertaining
The reader was amazing his ability to speak with authentic accents Welsh, Russian, Cockney,American,Upper class English, he could switch from one to the other easily . It made the story really come to life. The plot is interesting and engaging . I spent many nights until the early hours listening when I should have been sleeping.
It was an interesting way of learning the history of WW1 from a human point
They were all essential
billy rock solid character
Great story looking forward to no 3 and John Lee does a sterling job of Narration 5 stars John !!
Ken Follet has packed this epic with accurate information on the 2nd World War, its prelude and aftermath. I am going to have to listen a second time as there is much I would like to put into perspective.
It is difficult to say there is another book one can compare this one to, but from an historical perspective, much of what is captured in the following, one can appreciate in "Fall of Giants" is set out in some detail in: The history of the South African forces in France by John Buchan, and Pyramids and Poppies: The 1st SA Infantry Brigade in Libya, France and Flanders by Peter Digby.
Walter von Ulrich stands out as the most credible character for me - compared to most of the other characters, he was unaffected in playing politics and manipulation others.
Of Aristocrats and Comrades
As a reader of World War 2 History, I think this was the most enjoyable and refreshing overview of the Great War I have ever come across - and historically accurate as well!
A great book and an exceptional story! The narrator does a great job, too. I couldn’t stop listening! A perfect combination of historical context and human character. Can’t wait to listen to its sequel “Winter of the World.”
Buena novela histórica con personajes llenos de virtudes y defectos, todos pueden pasar de queridos a mal queridos. Historia rápida que mezcla la historia con la ficción y te hace querer saber mas de la verdad pero también de las relaciones ficticias. Lev es un campeón!
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