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Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy Paperback – August 27, 2013
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“A consistently compelling portrait of a world in crisis.”—The Washington Post
“Masterfully sweeping.”—The Louisville Courier-Journal
“Gripping…powerful.”—The New York Times
“An entertaining historical soap opera.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Anyway, my review...
Ken Follett's new novel, "Winter of the World", is the second in the planned three volume set about the history of the 20th century. Beginning in 1933, Follett brings his huge cast of characters along from the years up to the end of the Great War. To talk about the plot of the new book is impossible. Way too many characters and too many plot points. BUT, Follett's such a good writer that he brings the reader up to date with ALL his characters. Follett gives most of his characters enough nuance that few seem like caricatures.
The interesting thing about Follett's second book is the breadth of the coverage of the 1930's and 40's (and into the `50's). Everything from the burning of the Reichstag to the T4 Euthanesia program under the Nazis, to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the battle of Midway to the development of the atomic bomb is covered. Now, in a regular novel, the reader would think, "oh yeah, how can one character or family of characters be present at all these historic events?" But Follett has developed so many characters that what happens is not unlikely. His characters seem to merge with each other and then separate much like the designs in a kaleidoscope.Read more ›
"Winter of the World" repeats the same issue but has additional flaws. It picks up about a decade after the previous book. All the major characters that survived the end of the first book are still in this one, but they have been relegated to secondary characters. We never get the story from their first-person POV, like we did in "Giants." Instead, the POV's are now all from their various children. Which would be fine, except I felt these previous major characters had all been reduced to two dimensional archetypes. Fitz is a cliche British lord who you would have thought never had a moment of indiscretion or doubt in his life. Ethel is the wise and matronly Labor politician who seems incapable of mistakes or indiscretion. Maud is basically a straw man for the War's impact on German women, especially those who were not disposed to follow the Fascists. Grigori, who had one of the most interesting stories in the previous book, is now devoid of any interest. He's a whole-hearted functionary of Stalin, nothing more or less. The only character with any interesting backstory development is Lev, though I didn't find it quite credible.Read more ›
His huge cast of characters is made up of plastic, credible humans, many of whom are capable of growing into the situations thrust upon them, and by situations that are sometimes almost too horrible for words - but are nonetheless borne out by history. Yes, these things actually happened!
Follett leads us through the burning of the Reichstag, the Spanish civil war, Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia and Poland, the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, Stalin's mistrust of his own espionage agents and the resulting disasters, the Battle of Britain, etc. and manages to make it all close and personal! Missing however (the reason I withheld the 5th star) are the heroic rescue effort at Dunkirk, the saturation bombings (fire bombings) of places like Guernica, Dresden and Hamburg and especially, the siege of Leningrad! I'm not sure how an 872 day siege with its tremendous loss of life and unimaginable heroism escaped the author's notice. Granted, none of his characters were there and putting them there might have been difficult. But, to leave it unmentioned?
Clearly, covering the history of that period is an enormous project, but the enormity is no excuse for skipping events that are key to the memories the various nations involved ... the carnage that was D-Day was also brushed over lightly.
Critique notwithstanding, the book was fast-paced, exciting, and really hard to put down! I'm looking forward to the 3rd volume, but first I intend to re-read this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An amazing series looking in depth at the 20th century and peopling it with families who would have lived through the events over the generations. Read morePublished 22 hours ago by knittygirl52
Ken follett's saga is riveting. Everything you learned in high school about the years covered in the trilogy plus a sprinkling of sugar and spice.Published 23 hours ago by gloria davenport
As usual Ken Follett weaves an intriguing story with a history lesson. I loved this book but I didn't love the price of book 3. $18.99 for a kindle book is outrageousPublished 1 day ago by Jan Ross
Love..Love Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Starting book3. Can't wait, but it will be sad when it's over.Published 1 day ago by noname
It's good, but just not as good as Follett's other work. The first book of the trilogy is better, but this one is well worth reading to see the next generation of characters.Published 2 days ago by Cheryl G.
Some repetition of past events. Too long overall; could have edit it down ~100 pagesPublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good read, read it straight thru, slow in spots, covered world between WWI and WWII.Published 4 days ago by Wonel1