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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    6,521
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    2,589
  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Too predicatable

Would you ever listen to anything by Ken Follett again?

Probably

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes

Could you see Winter of the World being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 01-02-13

Why bother?

Herman Wouk already did this book and did it better. "War and Remembrance" has all the aspects of history written from a personal perspective. It does a great job of tying people together into a fascinating whole. This book feels like a cheap imitation of that. All the interrelatedness of the characters is overkill and can be a pain to track without a character summary. From the Pearl Harbor scene on, I kept wondering why he even bothered to write it. Do yourself a favor. If you like historical fiction and you want the real deal, download "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" and just skip this one.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A Gripping Period Presented with A Decided Slant

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • Lakeville, MN, United States
  • 12-07-12

More soap opera than history

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara
  • Chevy Chase, MD, United States
  • 12-06-12

Good storytelling but predictable

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good, but a strong liberal bias.

Would you try another book from Ken Follett and/or John Lee?

Possibly Follett, definitely Lee.

Any additional comments?

I had guessed from listening to this book and Fall of Giants that Follett must be atheist and very liberal. Research confirmed both.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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No new ground

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable

Would you listen to Winter of the World again? Why?

Yes. I will listen to Fall of Giants and Winter of the World before the final book of the trilogy comes out.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Howard
  • Grove City, PA, United States
  • 11-10-12

Too many anachronisms. At least one serious error.

I enjoyed the first installment on this trilogy, Fall of Giants. I looked forward to the second. I will not listen to the next one. Whether Follett portrayed a number of his characters with contemporary social/moral sensibilities for the sake of pandering to his readers or because of his own ignorance is beyond me. Few young girls in the 1940's even knew what oral sex was, let alone surprise a man with it. Ask an octegenarian, if you can find one who will not think you are disgusting for bringing it up. And if you were homosexual during WWII, you surely kept it a secret. Even during the VietNam years--and I am young enough to know firsthand--nobody was "okay" with homosexuality, open or otherwise. But giving credit for the Marshall plan to George Marshall because his name was on it stunk to high heaven. The idea came mostly from President Truman. He put Marshall's name on it (with Marshall's permission) because he needed to use the man's popularity to get the thing passed. Follett should have known that.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mel
  • Burlington, NJ, United States
  • 11-05-12

Enjoyable, but the first in the series is better.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes. This book is a continuation and I was eager to get started, however, it did leave me a little wanting. The characters seemed less interesting and the plot was not as rich, but I did enjoy getting lost in the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful