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Winter (Bernard Samson 0)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,316 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Deighton's most ambitious and enthralling novel yet takes us into the tumult of the Winter family--and the conflict between deeply attached brothers Peter and Paul. Charming Paul is drawn early and forever into the Nazi orbit, while intellectual Peter is repelled by Nazism, dedicated to the principles of German democracy.
Hardcover, 571 pages
Published November 12th 1987 by Knopf
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(showing 1-30 of 2,026)
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Sep 07, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I've seen other reviews that say this book is about a family living through World War II and to say that really short changes this magnificent novel. It's the story of a family from 1899 to 1945, as the title says. It focuses on the lives of two brothers, the youngest is born on New Year's Day of 1900. Through this family we witness the rise of Germany as a world power, it's defeat in WWI, the recovery of the country and the rise to power of the Nazis afterward to the ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Randall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't like this then you don't like historical fiction. This book is a prequel to the extensive trio of trilogies Len Deighton wrote starting with Mexico Game, going through Hook, and then Faith. The latter trilogies are cold war spy thrillers that are complicated (is that spy a double or a triple agent?) while Winter is more classic historical fiction which provides the background for the characters in the cold war trilogies. Winter tracks the post-WWI German family, establishes the forc ...more
Hondo Murray
Nov 21, 2008 Hondo Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hondo by: An ex-girlfriend Stephanie Neill
One of the BEST books I've EVER read! I was impressed with how you're drawn into Germany's history, from the turn of the century thru WWI up until the end of WWII. He not only TELLS you about dates and situations but makes you feel like you're RIGHT THERE in the MIDDLE of it all...He knows how to bring history to life in a way that books and documentaries can't (trust me, I've read and seen a lot of them); by involving you in the lives of two brothers who are struggling to decide who they are. G ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Guilie rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the books that inspired me to write in the first place. It's an amazing story, so well told. The characters have stayed with me for fifteen years.
Sep 11, 2014 kagami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I'm shattered.
Why do I like it so much? Hmm, where to begin....

The historical scope. The sheer breadth of it is staggering. The book encompasses the time from the beginning of the 20th century and up until 1945, just after the end of World War II, so it spans over nearly half a century. It tells Germany's history of that period through the lives of one family, the Winters. We experience the early 1900s, buzzing with excitement over bold new inventio
Simon Mcleish
Feb 17, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 2004.

After the phenomenal success of the first trilogy of Bernard Samson novels, Deighton wrote Winter as a sort of prequel. "Sort of" because it doesn't actually involve many of the characters from the trilogy - being mainly about their parents and grand parents during the first half of the twentieth century - and has a very different focus - it is really about the rise of Hitler. This is Deighton's attempt to explain just why so many Germans came to
Nov 09, 2015 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
If you want a long saga that would do well on tv this is it. After 400 pages the charectors are still flat and without emotional depth. Deighton just isnt up to the level of LeCarre. Now with all that said, Deighton is good at bringing little known historical elements into his story. One gets a day to day picture of life in war torn Berlin, both WWI and WWII. Little things like street travel. herb tea, subway tunnels. For Deighton lovers there are charactors introduce here that will play out in ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning tour de force by Deighton, linking as a pre history of some of the characters of his earlier Game, Set, and Match. Incorporating factual history with his own fictional world I often refer to it when rereading the earlier series and the later continuations. His favourite subject of Airships take a starring role together with references to to the beginnings of the film industry in America, the film world being another favourite.
Bill Gawne
Jan 27, 2016 Bill Gawne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book because I wanted a novel that took an in-depth look at Germany during the Weimar Republic. It most certainly delivered. Unlike most readers of this book, I haven't read any of Len Deighton's other work, so I can't (yet) fit it into the overall story arc. But as a stand alone historical novel, it's excellent.

It is also really, really depressing. But how could a story about two brothers in Germany during the first four decades of the 20th century not be? Deighton shows us, in no un
Oct 11, 2010 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always have been intrigued at how the Holocaust could happen and how a people could be okay with it. This book answers it and is pretty well summed up in the quote about "...then they came for the trade unionists and since I wasn't a trade unionist I said nothing." But it goes beyond tells how families/societies made room for the Nazi's and Hitler's policies.
Dec 24, 2014 Fortunr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, history_modern
Magnificent. It highlights beautifully the moral complexity of the choices that Germans have to confront during this critical period of European history. Highly recommended to anybody interested in this tragic and fascinating period.
Jun 26, 2013 TK421 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family-epic
One of the best epic stories I have ever read: family drama, WWII, espionage, adventure, even a bit of romance. Four stars becasue some of the writing lags in places.

Marc Coton
Jan 23, 2013 Marc Coton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this last in the series (game, set,match, hook, line, sinker, faith, hope, charity, winter) and it really helps explain the characters. Makes me want to read them all again!
Gareth Evans
Dec 10, 2011 Gareth Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fine historical montage of early twentieth century Germany. Even finer when read in conjunction with the Sansom novels.
This is a novel that details the lives of two German brothers through both World War I and World War II. They end up taking very different paths, one ultimately working for the Nazi party and the other for the United States military intelligence.

I found the book to be intensely interesting, partly because it gave me some insight into the complicated and confusing state of German politics in the inter-war years. It became easier for me to understand the various motivations that led people to supp
Jun 05, 2010 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An actual paperback! Have had this for ages. Was re-shelving my books and found this. Deighton is a good writer and I'm fascinated by anything German, as I've studied the language. This did not disappoint, although it took me awhile to understand the reason for the ending.

The value of the book is that we get to see Germany from the inside in this fictional account of two brothers with an American mother and a seemingly cold German industrialist father. Wealthy, raised in Berlin, one goes the way
Feb 09, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God, what a sprawling story of a family unravelling. Technically it's a prequel to the Bernard Samson novels, but it's mostly tangental. The one Samson we get to know in this book is Bernard's father, and even then he's more of a secondary character. There's more connections to the stories set during the cold war, but you don't have to know them to enjoy the story. Deighton goes deep, throwing the sort of obscure details that add color to all the characters, even the historical ones. He manages ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank goodness I finished this book because now I can get on with my holiday preparations. It was the kind of story I didn't want to put down. The lives of two brothers, Peter and Paul, were played out against early 20th century German history. Their paths are chosen by their father Harald, who had very rigid ideas of his own, as befitted the times. The relationships against this historical backdrop are fascinating. And although the the book is some 600 pages, I do wonder about some of the perip ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** 1/2
Typically solid Deighton goodness. Interesting to follow a German family from pre-WWI to the catastrophic aftermath of der Zweiten Welten Krieg. The two main character are brothers who find themselves on opposite sides of the War. Also fascinating was to see how, for Germans, WWII built up because of things that happened in Germany immediately following the Armistice on 11/11/1918. It's easy see how the German people's historical culture and political philosophies fed the nightmare that b
Sarah Harkness
Oct 04, 2011 Sarah Harkness rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Len Deighton fan, , or student of 20th C european history
I read this because it seemed to be a natural progression from the Hook Line and Sinker Trilogy, which I am really enjoying. It is an excellent waltz through 50 years of German history, and the plotting is neatly done. I thought it ended far too abruptly, with still many questions unanswered - and at the speed I read, which many would say is too fast, it didn't strike me as great literature -- none of the characters are sympathetic or even very likeable. But it was gripping and fun, and the choi ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Vidar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We follow a German family through the first part of the 20th century, and follow two men's trajectories situated in the events of the time. The book present an intelligent treatment of how the ghastly catastrophe started and took hold of a civilized country. Leighton describes the development of the two mens character in a very convincing way with the rise and fall of Germany as an interesting back curtain. One of the brother's is intelligent and articulate and the other is not too bright academ ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 10, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been 25 years since I last read Len Deighton, and my mother lent me this copy because she was interested in checking the historical veracity of the events. This being so, that's where I'll start, by saying that Deighton clearly does his homework, and knows both wartime history and Germany very well indeed. Although the characters are Berliner, parts of the story are based around the Bodensee, which I know very well, and here again Deighton never puts a foot wrong. Except that he describes ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is supposedly a prequel to the Bernard Samson spy novels, but not necessarily in the usual sense ie it sets the scene that these novels work on but doesn't introduce the characters. Instead it concentrates on working on the background of Germany and England from the beginning of the 20th century through to just after the second world war and events that shape the times that Samson now works in. This is all brought to us through the eyes of two brothers born either side of the new century bo ...more
Jun 21, 2011 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is much the same story as Herman Wouck's 'War And Remembrance' except it is from the German point of view with American's and Jew's whereas War and Remembrance is from the American point of view with Germans and Jews. It was depressing. It was well written and held my interest for the most part but it was just too depressing thus the low mark.
Winter: A Berlin Family 1899-1945 is a very moving novel that is sometimes hard to read because you can't help but feel bad for the family. Len Deighton does a fantastic job of illustrating life in Berlin shortly before the turn of the century and till the end of World War Two. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history or family drama.
Clive Warner
Feb 13, 2008 Clive Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Deighton fan
An excellent book based on a Berlin family going through WW2. Well written and absorbing. Highly recommended. Authentic detail.
Sara Jo Schmidt
For those who are curious about the history and the culmination of the second world war, this is an excellent piece of historical fiction.
Ever wonder how it happened? Did an entire country just wake up one morning and decide to kill more than six million people? Nope. There were so many layers...layers that took almost 50 years to build up. Small and seemingly insignificant events created a monster. That's what this story will show you.

Highly recommend for those interested in history, warfare,
Nov 15, 2010 Daryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very loonnnggg book!
Simon Potts
Feb 06, 2013 Simon Potts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favs.
Graeme Stuart Waymark
May 13, 2015 Graeme Stuart Waymark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Graeme by: Gary Nicholls
I think of this as Len Deighton's first or 10th in his 'Bernard And Fiona Sampson, 10 novel series of three trilogies: Game, Set, Match; Hook, Line, Sinker; and Faith, Hope Charity.
The origins of the series include primarily the 19th Century 'Winter' family, Berlin and a sustained metaphor of characters role playing three Empires:
- the declining, class structured British;
- the faux emancipation of serfs empire of United Soviet Socialists, pretending to be republics; and
- the emerging nation
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boris winter 2 21 Apr 04, 2015 09:17AM  
  • The Last Innocent Hour
  • In the Arms of the Enemy
  • Murder on the Titanic
  • The Devil's Disciples: Hitler's Inner Circle
  • The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
  • A Small Town in Germany
  • Dark Voyage (Night Soldiers, #8)
  • Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4)
  • The Oppermanns
  • The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)
  • The Nazi Hunter
  • The Greek Key (Tweed & Co. #6)
  • The Fox in the Attic (The Human Predicament, #1)
  • The Secret Lovers (Paul Christopher #3)
  • A Gathering of Spies
  • Dear Enemy
Deighton was born in Marylebone, London, in 1929. His father was a chauffeur and mechanic, and his mother was a part-time cook.After leaving school, Deighton worked as a railway clerk before performing his National Service, which he spent as a photographer for the Royal Air Force's Special Investigation Branch. After discharge from the RAF, he studied at St Martin's School of Art in London in 1949 ...more
More about Len Deighton...

Other Books in the Series

Bernard Samson (9 books)
  • Berlin Game (Bernard Samson, #1)
  • Mexico Set (Bernard Samson, #2)
  • London Match (Bernard Samson, #3)
  • Spy Hook (Bernard Samson, #4)
  • Spy Line (Bernard Samson, #5)
  • Spy Sinker (Bernard Samson, #6)
  • Faith (Bernard Samson, #7)
  • Hope (Bernard Samson, #8)
  • Charity (Bernard Samson, #9)

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