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.
This is a strong, interesting, well written and superbly performed historic pot boiler which may on occasion play a little fast and loose with the facts but makes up for that with a compelling narrative drive. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good book. It’s a long and at times harrowing read which deals with the rise of Fascism and World War Two through to the start of the Cold War. What is a little irksome is the structure which relies on coincidences which draw the main actors to just the right place at the right time. It’s a device he used to great effect in Fall Of Giants but it’s wearing a tiny bit thin in this second episode. In his much under rated movie Zelig Woody Allen has his character show up in pretty much every major news event of the 20th century to great comic effect. The frequency with which his protagonists pop up at just the right place and time to witness firsthand the salient event of WWII does stretch credibility just a little here and there. Having said that, it’s still a terrific read.
I was a little troubled by a couple of historic inaccuracies which I noticed….for example one plot line features the Nazi T4 euthanasia program which actually happened in a Berlin suburb but Follett sets in a remote small town well outside Berlin. Follett dwells in gruesome detail on the mass rape carried out by the invading Red Army but almost completely ignores the entire Holocaust. Working through the events covered in this book it’s almost inevitable that the political bias of the author will show through from place to place. It’s pretty clear that he has a soft spot for the working class heroes of the British Labor movement with a healthy contempt for aristocracy of any kind. These books are also fairly racy, certainly not for the under 16 set. If you enjoyed Fall of Giants you will likely love this book. If you haven’t read FOG yet, start there and you will likely follow straight on to this second book with your eye on the release date of the third in the series.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
The wonder of this book is that most of us intimately understand the subject matter, and Follet does a wonderful job of creating the emotion and devastation associated with this tumultuous era in World History.
He seamlessly weaves the characters together in a believable and dignified way. The comparisons of cultures and the representative actors is achieved in a subtle and believable manner. I could not be more impressed with his point of view on what it would have been like to witness some of the 20th Century's most notable events.
I highly recommend this book, as it is exactly what an audio book should be: entertaining, representative of a unique point of view, and enjoyable!
40 of 42 people found this review helpful
Winter of the World is just as engrossing and just interesting as Fall of Giants. We meet characters we love, and a few we despise. Follett expertly puts his characters into all the major events of the 1930's and 1940's, and he does so without straining the readers/listeners credulity. Hitler's rise to power, the burning of the Reichstag, Pearl Harbor, Midway, the development of the atomic bomb, the struggle of Russia against Germany, it's all here. Follett never has been one to avoid tragedy and in Winter of the World people you don't think will come to harm are killed off. This is realistic and adds to the believability of the novel.
When a great story is narrated by someone as fantastic as John Lee it next to impossible to stop listening. There were many days where I was engrossed for 5 or 6 hours at a time. Get this gem and enjoy.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
This is a great book and great narration. However, the Audible version skips about halfway through. I contacted Audible and was told it will take two weeks or even longer to fix (a/o 10/10/12). Either wait or buy somewhere else - unless you don't mind that a section of the audiobook is missing.
60 of 65 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this book a lot its very typical of all of Ken Follett books he is an epic story teller. I think I enjoyed Fall of Giants more though. Having been 2 years since that book came out it would have been nice just to have a clearer understanding of the characters genealogy. However IF you have not read Fall of Giants this book is still one you can pick up and enjoy without having read the previous book. I don't think the book focused enough on the holocaust but I think that is a point not many Germans from my understanding knew what was going on at that time.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
in all three catagories!
More than a great story. I love a novel that educates.
Reader is perfect.
Lost a whole weekend because I couldn't turn it off...
30 of 33 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Just finished the book yesterday. I don't want to re-read the whole book. Please someone, which part was missing???
19 of 21 people found this review helpful
First of all this review is some what tainted by my enthusiasm for the first novel in the series. I felt in Fall of Giants that that author was able to weave together the separate plot lines, give a wonderful story and a broad history lesson. I fell Winter of the World fell short. Now this short coming is easily explained, the second world war is difficult to paint in such broad strokes, I felt that the holocaust was given very light coverage.
Furthermore as the genealogy expands from the first book the complexity of the plot lines became a bit muddled.
Finally, the first book in many instances gave us a front row seat, we were at dinner with the king, or in the office of the President etc etc, there was less of that in this book and I feel that it is the poorer for it.
Saying all that i still enjoyed the book.
If readers want to be fully immersed in the second world war in a similar style, Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance is your best bet
29 of 33 people found this review helpful
What would have made Winter of the World better?
It would have been so much better if the piece that is missing (about 40 pages of the actual book) were there
Any additional comments?
I called Audible about this problem on October 10th and then again on the 15th, as I had received no answer. On the 15th they promised me I would get an answer within one business day. Three business days later I am still in the dark. I did get a credit as a "we are sorry" note, though. However, I would really like to be able to finish the book with the missing part reinstated.
28 of 32 people found this review helpful
I got an e-mail from audible saying they had fixed it, but need to know which section got fixed, since I have already listened to it and just assumed that was how the story went.
27 of 31 people found this review helpful