I think I'm going to have to create a special list for Ken Follett books. I'm going to call it "Books I hate and love at the same time." On the one haI think I'm going to have to create a special list for Ken Follett books. I'm going to call it "Books I hate and love at the same time." On the one hand, he writes a darn entertaining novel. In spite of it's nearly 1,000 pages, the pages turn quickly and I was reluctant to put it down. On the other hand, Follett really burns me with his too modern characters and inaccurate depictions of history. When you start yelling "Are you kidding me?" and complain about the author to your family members (while still being unable to walk away from the book), you know you have a love/hate relationship.
***SPOILER ALERT*** What follows might constitute spoilers for the book, although they are small and don't give away any big surprises. However, if you want to read the book without knowing anything about it beforehand, by all means, stop here. If you want to hear my complaints about Follett, keep reading.
(view spoiler)[Winter of the World is Follett's sequel to Fall of Giants, an epic story that follows English, American and Russian families through the Great War in the first book, and now World War II in the second. Lady Maud has married a German at the end of Fall of Giants, so now we have her family's storyline taking place in Nazi Germany during World War II.
The heroes of Follett's book are all Socialists, who appear to hate democratic conservatives, Fascists and Communists equally. The author props up Roosevelt and alludes to his problems as being the fault of conservatives. In one early chapter Woody DeWar defends Roosevelt's decision not to support the anti-lynching bill by saying he needed Congressional support for the New Deal. All around this scene is dialogue like "damn Conservatives!" and trashing of the Republicans. A person not acquainted with history would assume that it was conservative members of Congress that were preventing Roosevelt from signing the bill, when in fact it was southern Democrats. The bill was introduced by a Republican and had broad conservative support.
Later, when the United States enters into World War II, two of the main American characters decide to join the military because they want to help in the war effort. But, neither of them want to fight. They both want desk jobs. This sounds like a modern left-leaning American to me. I've read far to many autobiographies and biographies from World War II veterans, and the one thing they have in common is they all want to fight. In fact, the ones that were assigned desk jobs complained bitterly and tried anything they could to be sent overseas.
And let's look at Lady Maud and her German family. Her daughter, Carla, helped to spy for the Russians and when the war ended and they found themselves in the Russian sector of Berlin, Carla was raped and their family was left to starve. In non-fiction books I have read, the Russians treated well those that refused to join the Nazi party. They were given jobs and food. I can't imagine that this family would not have immediately confessed their espionage activities to the Russians in the hopes of better treatment. Better yet, why didn't they go back to England? Follett uses the excuse that the Earl disowned his sister because she married a German, but he certainly wasn't her only family member, and Lady Maud is British. For sure, Maud and her family would have left Germany. (hide spoiler)]
I could go on and on, but I won't. I'm not sure if I'll read the third part of this trilogy, Edge of Eternity (which is due to hit the bookshelves on September 16th). I'll have to carefully read a few reviews first to see what direction Follett is taking this novel. It's likely to deal with more recent history, and that might make me even angrier if he continues to revise history like he has in his previous books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A non-fiction account of a fascinating survival story, Mitchell Zuckoff takes us back to 1945 World War II, to the occupied islands of New Guinea in tA non-fiction account of a fascinating survival story, Mitchell Zuckoff takes us back to 1945 World War II, to the occupied islands of New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. A plane carrying soldiers and WACS on a sightseeing trip to the center of the island crashed, killing all but three. The book is an account of their harrowing experience of trekking (injured) through the jungle, meeting natives that had never before encountered outsiders (possibly barbarous or cannibalistic), and the dangerous mission to rescue them in an area not accessible by aircraft.
It was indeed a terrific story, and Zuckoff is very thorough, giving us complete backgrounds of everyone involved and educating the reader about the culture of the Dani tribe. My only complaint is I thought the book was very padded. This was a really a short story made into a book, with a lot of extra information thrown in to bring the word count up. I mean, really, did I need to know that one of the Chicago reporters covering the story was originally from Fargo, North Dakota? I read this book on my kindle and finished it at only 64% (meaning 36% of the book was source notes)....more
I’m still trying to finish my 52 Books Around the USA Challenge for 2013. With only a handful of books left, I’m eager to get through them and move onI’m still trying to finish my 52 Books Around the USA Challenge for 2013. With only a handful of books left, I’m eager to get through them and move on to the 2014 challenge. And my Missouri pick, Truman, all 1117 pages of it, kept staring at me from the bookshelf. Okay. I admit I have been putting this off. It’s big. It’s intimidating. And was Harry S. Truman all that interesting of a President? The answer, I soon found out, was yes!
I challenged myself to read it next, and I wasn’t disappointed. It took me almost three weeks, but I should have known that David McCullough could not write a book that wouldn’t interest me. Did I mention it won the Pulitzer?
From the background of Truman’s family (which the genealogist in me adored), to his early political career, I enjoyed getting to know Harry S. Truman, personable and heroic bookworm. He had old family values – took care of his loved ones, got a good education and gave back to his country and community. And if that’s not interesting enough for you, throw in shady political backers, and now there’s a story!
His rise to the Vice Presidency was shocking, and then came the biggest stunner of all – the death of FDR leaving the helm of the United States in his hands. As a World War II buff, this was the part I couldn’t put down. The strategies of war, dealings with Churchill and Stalin - it doesn’t get any better than this. In fact I thought this would be the peak of the book for me. But there were some more areas that fascinated me.
As a President used to political support on both sides of the aisle during wartime, Truman seemed shocked and dismayed when his domestic agenda was rejected by both democrats and republicans alike. I was stunned that he assumed he would receive support of a massive spending bill when the US had just taken on billions in wartime debt. In fact, despite his likeability, his job performance on the home front following the war was dismal, according to polls. The man used government as a tool to force the public to behave the way he wanted them to. He used price controls, taxes, and intervention in labor disputes. I laughed when he said he wanted to draft the railroad workers if they continued to strike. Only it wasn’t funny because he was serious.
Lucky for us, his handling of foreign affairs was much better. He provided the assistance needed to help rebuild Europe following the war, and recognized the Soviet threat and worked to halt Communist aggression.
The politics of running for re-election was interesting, but I also enjoyed his post-Presidential life. McCullough is very thorough, and he knows what to include for an interesting and thoughtful biography. Very impressive!...more
As a little girl, Laurel witnessed her mother kill a man in cold blood. The event was quickly covered up, and from that day the child kept her mother'As a little girl, Laurel witnessed her mother kill a man in cold blood. The event was quickly covered up, and from that day the child kept her mother's secret. But Laurel, knew from that moment her mother Dorothy had a mysterious past. Switch to the present, where Dorothy lay dying in a hospital. She begins to mention names from her youth, from World War II London, a past that is unknown to her daughters. Laurel is reminded of that long ago day when she witnessed the murder and this time, she is determined to find out the truth.
Oh, how I enjoyed this book! It was quite the page turner, with a lot of mystery and a little history thrown in. Totally terrific! Many thanks to Atria Books for the advanced review copy. 3 1/2 stars....more
I have to say, I've been really impressed with author Helen Bryan. This is the second novel I've read written by this author, and it's another winner!I have to say, I've been really impressed with author Helen Bryan. This is the second novel I've read written by this author, and it's another winner!
War Brides tells the fictional story of five women who became friends during World War II, after they relocated to the English countryside. Bryan is a wonderful storyteller, and the various backgrounds of these women tell the story of the times and of a war that had a huge affect on everyone.
Evangeline is an southern belle who escapes to England by marrying a British Naval officer. Alice, after being jilted by the same officer, goes from spinsterhood to working for a Women's Service Organization. Elsie is removed from her starving London family to work as a maid for Lady Marchmont. Tanni is a recent Austrian immigrant who narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz with her parents. And lastly the novel includes Frances - a London socialite sent to Sussex to keep her out of trouble.
These women represent those that worked to win the war by working on the home front - raising children (often not their own), farming, ambulance work, and even spying. War Brides is an entertaining look at a side of war often overlooked....more
I thought I’d squeeze in some Christian fiction to get my mind (and heart) focused on the right place as we kick off the Advent season. Set on the U.SI thought I’d squeeze in some Christian fiction to get my mind (and heart) focused on the right place as we kick off the Advent season. Set on the U.S. homefront during World War II, While We’re Far Apart is a touching story of family separation. A father is serving overseas and kept apart from his two children. A son is trapped in Hungary studying at the Yeshiva, while his father desperately searches for information about him and fears for his safety. And both of these families grieve the loss of wives and mothers taken from them by means of a tragic automobile accident.
As the book progresses Austin addresses the issues of anger at God, forgiveness and trust that even in despair, God can bring goodness. Austin’s novels are easy to read, but always with a great story and an even greater message. A perfect book for the holidays....more
All month I’m resolved to read nothing but books set in England, and The House at Tyneford has proved to be an excellent selection! Imagine growing upAll month I’m resolved to read nothing but books set in England, and The House at Tyneford has proved to be an excellent selection! Imagine growing up next to a ghost village, where a large manor house stands abandoned and the people that inhabited the surrounding countryside have long since vanished. That is exactly the story behind author Natasha Solomons, and her decision to research and write a novel with that village as the backdrop.
The story begins in 1938, when 19 year old Elise Landau must leave Austria, as the Nazi-governed state becomes increasingly dangerous for the Jews that reside there. Though born to the finer things in life, she accepts a post as servant in a great English house – Tyneford. Through Elise’s story, we experience the vast changes Britain faces as Europe becomes embroiled in war, and the consequences that touch lives for years to come.
Solomons does a marvelous job presenting her research in an informative and captivating way, with the charm of the English countryside and the tension of World War II. Top that off with a romance and there’s one fine novel here. Loved it!...more