CS's Reviews > Winter of the World

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Nov 13, 2012

really liked it
Read in November, 2012

Ken Follett is a mediocre writer, but a stellar storyteller. His characters are cardboard, his dialogue wooden and on the nose, his prose pedestrian and perfunctory. As for his punctuation of dialogue: ugh. I said: "Please take away Follett's colon key, stat." (No, Ken, a colon is not interchangeable with a comma.)

But still - the pages demand to be turned.

WINTER OF THE WORLD picks up right after FALL OF THE GIANTS, with the sons and daughters of the latter novel's characters facing the Spanish Civil War, World War II and the start of the Cold War. Oddly enough, the Depression is pretty much glossed over and doesn't seem to affect anyone. While the book does focus on a German family, the rise of Hitler is depicted as a forceful takeover by a bullying, thuggish mob and the economic conditions that helped him rise are pretty much non-existent. The book also follows wealthy and/or privileged American, Russian and British families not much affected by the economy, and even the Welsh working class characters of FALL OF THE GIANT are solidly middle class (and Members of Parliament) in this book.

But aside from the curious lack of the Depression, the book hits all the highlights of mid-20th century history. Follett doesn't stray far from the popular, accepted narrative of World War II. Nazis and Russian secret police: bad. Americans & Brits: decent sorts. His German characters are all fervent anti-Nazis, of course, with one exception (but he's depicted as weak-willed and easily led.) The Russians are a bit more nuanced, despising Stalin's violent excesses but seeing them as necessary steps on the road to communist paradise. The Americans are oddly apolitical, even when serving in the US government; Follett mentions but doesn't examine too closely Roosevelt's land-lease program nor the big US companies who did business with Nazi Germany. The international political maneuvering was a highlight in FALL OF THE GIANTS; I was sad not to see more of it in this book.

So if anyone needs an entertaining Cliff Notes to European History 1933-1949, this might hit the spot. (Cliff Notes in terms that the history is briefly and concisely presented; it's certainly not Cliff Notes in length!)
63 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Winter of the World.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/03 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Cindy So right on! The problem with the characters is that you want to love them, put because you don't know more, you just fall on your face on the approach. He certainly is a good storyteller though. Glad to read your review. Lloyd is petty great though.

Djschuster Exactly!

Tamar Couldn't agree more

message 4: by Sean (new)

Sean It's a fun read.
I sort of feel like I'm watching an ABC miniseries from the 80s

message 5: by Judi (new)

Judi Who is proof-reading books these days???

Although Follett's 2nd book in the trilogy, "Winter of the World", relates history of the second world war, etc. his writing leaves something to be desired. There are sooooo many grammatical errors. There is no such term as 'beat up'; it is just beat. Has he ever heard of using a semi-colon to separate thoughts instead of a comma???

"If they could get out of the harbor they could scatter and present less easy targets". ie. correct - fewer easy targets. Less refers to quantity; fewer refers to number!

Being Canadian, I thought Canadians fought in World War 2. There is no mention of them at all! ?????

message 6: by CS (new) - rated it 4 stars

CS Judi wrote: "Who is proof-reading books these days???

Although Follett's 2nd book in the trilogy, "Winter of the World", relates history of the second world war, etc. his writing leaves something to be desir..."

You are completely right about the absence of the Canadians in WWII in this book, which is a huge oversight as the Canadians came to the assistance of the British long before the Yanks did. Now I'm outraged on Canada's behalf!

back to top