This third volume of Ken Follet's The Twentieth Century trilogy was terrific. I very thoroughly enjoyed it. The interwoven stories of five families, fThis third volume of Ken Follet's The Twentieth Century trilogy was terrific. I very thoroughly enjoyed it. The interwoven stories of five families, from America, Wales, England, Russia, and Germany, continues through the tumultuous 1960's up through the fall of Communism and the Soviet Union in the late 1980's and early 1990's.. One or more members of these five families is on the scene and integrally involved in all the major happenings throughout these years: the splitting of Berlin by The Berlin Wall, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, an Bobby Kennedy, the racial struggles of the blacks in the deep South, the struggles of the Soviets with their very conservative leaders of the 1960's and early 1980's, then the transition to Michael Gorbachev and the ultimate fall of the Soviet Communist system. I highly recommend this really good novel. It takes one through the happenings of these 3+ decades in such a personal way and makes those significant events very vivid, especially for those of us who lived through those years....more
Ken Follett is an incredibly wonderful author. He continues The Century Trilogy, which he began with The Fall of Giants, in this outstanding second voKen Follett is an incredibly wonderful author. He continues The Century Trilogy, which he began with The Fall of Giants, in this outstanding second volume. In Winter of the World he uses the well-known historical happenings of the tumultuous 1933 to 1949 timeframe as a backdrop in giving the reader an intimate, inside view of how those exceeding tragic events affected the lives of his five fictitious families. There are the American Dewars and Peshkovs, the English Fitzherberts and Leckwiths, along with the German von Ulriches, Francks, and Rothmanns, the Russian Peshkovs and Vorotsyntsevs, and finally the Welch Williams and Griffiths. For the most part these geographically and politically far-flung groups of people are very disjointed but at the same time they either initially are interrelated or become so over the course of the story, with or without the personal knowledge of various members of the families.
I found this book very hard to put down. I MOST ENTHUSIASTICALLY recommend it in the highest terms to those who appreciate excellent historical fiction.
I have just finished reading this absolutely incredible story. On a scale of 0ne to 5 stars, I rate it at least SIX STARS. I place it at the very topI have just finished reading this absolutely incredible story. On a scale of 0ne to 5 stars, I rate it at least SIX STARS. I place it at the very top by far of my ALL-TIME FAVORITES LIST. It is a truly amazing tale and all the more so because it is 100% NON-FICTION. I will be working on a complete review and post it in the next few days. The following is my more complete review:
During 1978 the American multinational information technology equipment and services company EDS (Electronic Data Systems), founded by and then headed H. Ross Perot, was working on a contract with the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran to put in place a new electronic social security system for his country. Increasing rumors of unrest within the country resulted in the EDS evacuation of almost all of its employees and their dependents who were there at the time. (The Shah himself was overthrown in February 1979 when the cleric Ayatollah Khomeini came into power.) A few EDS employees stayed in Iran in an effort to keep the business going, even though the payments to EDS had not been made for several months. In the midst of the rising political turmoil and following a demand for back payments due by the company, two of the remaining American EDS employees, Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord, were arrested and put in jail with their bail set at $12,750,000. They had committed no crime and were not actually charged with anything other than supposedly being material witnesses to issues related to an investigation. In effect, they had been taken hostage and the “bail” was actually a ransom.
Much of the secret of Ross Perot’s phenomenal success as a businessman was picking the right person for the job then getting out of his or her way and letting him or her do that job. His employees were fiercely loyal to him, and he repaid their loyalty with equally fierce dedication to seeing that they were taken care of. When he first heard about the imprisonment of Paul and Bill in Iran, he immediately began to take all steps he could to bring about their release. He had an excellent reputation and was well respected by those in government. This was especially the military because of his extreme efforts on behalf of the POWs during the Vietnam War. He called in every IOU he could think of and made contact with many very powerful individuals seeking help to get Paul and Bill freed from their Iranian prison and out of the country. These contacts included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Thomas Moorer, former White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, multiple then current individuals in the Department of State, and many others. Some of these efforts seemed to be about to yield positive results, but then they all seemed to fizzle out for one reason or another. As Perot was exploring the legitimate means of obtaining the release of Paul and Bill, he began to see that he might have to turn to a more unconventional approach, i.e., break them out of jail. For this he sought out retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, who was probably foremost “expert” in heading such an operation at that time. Simons was then best known for organizing and leading the Son Tay raid, an attempted rescue of American POWs from a North Vietnamese prison at Son Tay. That raid would have succeeded but for the fact that the POWs had been moved a few days before the raid took place.
Simons and seven very carefully chosen EDS executives, most with highly applicable former military and/or other needed experience, began intelligence gathering and applicable training in the Dallas area. They then went to Tehran to execute the plan. They made appropriate modifications and adjustments when initial intelligence proved faulty and/or when circumstances changed, e.g., Paul and Bill were moved to a much more secure prison. Shortly after this team left for Tehran, Ross Perot took the very highly dangerous step of going to Tehran himself to visit Paul and Bill in the prison to boost their morale.
I can’t go into much further detail in this review without the review becoming a spoiler. Suffice it to say that I found this book to be the telling of one of the MOST INCREDIBLE tales I have every read. This impression is amplified in the extreme because it is unbelievably NON-FICTION. I MOST DEFINITELY very highly recommend this book to all interested readers. It is truly fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ken Follet's Trilogy of the Twentieth Century begins with this exciting book. The world events are viewed through the eyes of five extremely diverse fKen Follet's Trilogy of the Twentieth Century begins with this exciting book. The world events are viewed through the eyes of five extremely diverse families scattered through multiple countries. It is most interesting to see how the lives of these families come together. I am very much looking forward to volume 2 of the trilogy. ...more