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The Century Trilogy #2

Winter of the World

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Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.

Carla von Ulrich, born of German and English parents, finds her life engulfed by the Nazi tide until she commits a deed of great courage and heartbreak. . . . American brothers Woody and Chuck Dewar, each with a secret, take separate paths to momentous events, one in Washington, the other in the bloody jungles of the Pacific. . . . English student Lloyd Williams discovers in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War that he must fight Communism just as hard as Fascism. . . . Daisy Peshkov, a driven American social climber, cares only for popularity and the fast set, until the war transforms her life, not just once but twice, while her cousin Volodya carves out a position in Soviet intelligence that will affect not only this war—but the war to come.

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century. From the drawing rooms of the rich to the blood and smoke of battle, their lives intertwine, propelling the reader into dramas of ever-increasing complexity.

940 pages, Hardcover

First published September 18, 2012

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About the author

Ken Follett

487 books51.1k followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995.

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of Ken’s most popular books.

In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on best-seller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007.

Ken’s new book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published in September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust and Patron of Home-Start Hertfordshire.

Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player. He lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with his wife Barbara, the former Labour Member of Parliament for Stevenage. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren and two Labradors.

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Profile Image for Max de Freitas.
241 reviews17 followers
September 14, 2012
I read the first of this trilogy – Fall of Giants. It was excellent. Winter of the World continues in the same superlative fashion. The narrative is quick and absorbing. Through the eyes of interesting characters, you get a front row seat in the most memorable historical events that were really not that long ago. The first book took me inside the world my grandparents experienced. This one transported me into the events that shaped my parents. The book provides in-depth perspectives and describes how people actually felt at the time. There is a handy map of the world on the inside covers. It shows all the cities where events transpire. Ken Follett is a master storyteller. His books are extremely interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. I eagerly await the third in this series.
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,618 followers
February 9, 2017

عام جديد يبدأ ولكني استهليت قراءته برواية تدور أحداثها منذ حوالي 75 عاما
واعتبرها إضافة مميزة لقراءاتي المعتادة من الروايات

من قال أن الروايات ليست بأهمية الكتب النصية لهو فعلا ضيق الأفق
فهنا امتزجت دراما ممتعة مع أحداث سياسية تاريخية هامة

وشخصيات متنوعة مثيرة مع شخصيات حقيقية غيرت التاريخ

عملا ملحميا بحق يمزج بدراما متميزة وتاريخ اوروبا وامريكا علي مدار قرن من الزمان يرصد المميزات كما يرصد العيوب
لا ادري فعلا إلي متي تظل "أغلب" رواياتنا المصرية والعربية السياسية سقيمة لا تقدم الأمور بحيادية او من اكثر من منظور فقط فساد وبشاعة وجنس؟
فهنا يقدم حياة كاملة وقيم الحب والصداقة والشجاعة والبطولة وحتي جنس ولكن ليس عهر، يقدم وجهة نظر ووجهة النظر الاخري .. يقدم الأمور التي ليس بها تأكيد كما هي فلا يبالغ مثلا في سرد مبالغات اليهود علي انها حقائق واقعة سليمة وانما يسرد المؤكد عليه تاريخيا في اطار درامي ممتاز
"اصدقاءك النازيون لا يفقهون شيئا عن التاريخ , المصريون القدماء بنوا الأهرامات وقت الألمان كانوا يعيشون في الكهوف. العرب حكموا العالم في العصور الوسطي-المسلمين كانوا يقومون بعمليات الجبر وقت الأمراء الألمان لم يكونوا يعرفوا كتابة اسماءهم...انه لا شئ متعلق بالعرق"
"Your Nazi friends don't know history,"Father Said. "The Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids when Germans were living in caves. Arabs ruled the world in the Middle Ages-the Muslims were doing algebra when German princes could not write their own names. It's nothing to do with race"

أنه كين فوليت..مؤلفي المفضل الجديد

سبع أسباب لتقرأ لكين فوليت ثلاثية القرن
Se7en Reasons Why to Read Ken Follett's The Century Trilogy

1- For Living the History Experience لتعيش التاريخ

ثلاثية القرن في كتابها الثاني هذا ستنقلك إلى فترة تاريخية هامة، شتوية كما وصفها المؤلف ، من 1933 إلي 1949 ستتعرف علي طابع الحياة في هذا الوقت وحياة الناس بها وكيف عاشوا أهم الأحداث التاريخية الرهيبة من خلال الرواية وبشكل سيجعلك لا تنسي هذه الأحداث وحتي تواريخها
فكل فصل بالكتاب عنوانه العام الذي تدور به الأحداث، ومن خلال كل فصل ستجد الشهر، بل واليوم والوقت المحدد للأحداث التاريخية التي غيرت وجه الحياة السياسية بالعالم

ولكن ليس هذا السبب الوحيد الذي سيجعلك تتذكر تلك الأحداث بتواريخها

2- With an Excellent Drama بدراما متميزة
بل لأن تلك الاحداث التاريخية منسوجة بحرفية بدراما مثيرة ومميزة ، ربما أعجبتني أكثر من الجزء الأول، فلا هي دراما بطيئة ، مملة او مليئة بتشبيهات تتصنع العمق أو فلسفة فارغة لا تتحملها الأحداث، ولا هي متسارعة تشعر كأنك تقرأ تقرير ملخص جاف عن حياة الشخصيات بشكل تقريري
الدراما نفسها كحياة طبيعية واقعية ،فلا وجود لأحداث جريمة غامضة او اكشن او غرائبية، هي حياة عادية ما يميزها هو اصطدامها باحداث تاريخية هامة بشكل غير مقحم وإنما ملائم جدا للشخصيات
لن تشعر بضغيان الجانب السياسي علي الدرامي، ولا العكس..ستجد توازن مقدم بشكل ممتع يجعلك تعيش الأحداث بشكل مثير
قد تتنبأ للوهلة الأولي بما قد تنتهي إليه أحداث درامية معينة لأحد الشخصيات ولكن ستتفاجأ بتطورات مثيرة للأحداث والشخصيات

3- Of Varaity of Characters بشخصيات متنوعة
الشخصيات بالرغم من أنه قد يصدمك كثرتها في فهرس الشخصيات بأول الكتاب ولكن بمجرد إنتهاء الفصول الأولى من الكتاب الأول ستجد ان ظهور الشخصيات والتعريف بها وعلاقتها العائلية تم تقديمها بسلاسة شديدة ، ليس عليك سوي تخيل ممثل او ممثلة مفضلة لك لكل شخصية حتي تكون الصورة مكتملة في ذهنك اثناء القراءة
ستجد بعد ذلك متابعة التشابك بين الشخصيات و العائلات مثيرا بحق وممتع في قراءته ، ما بين صعود وهبوط ، ما بين لقاء وفراق وما بين موت وحياة
مابين عائلة عامل بسيط بمنجم فحم، لعائلة إيريل انجليزي ثري صاحب المناجم، لعائلات دبوماسيين ورجال سياسة واخري من البسطاء المضطهدين

4- Of Different Nationalities بجنسيات مختلفة
وميزة اي رواية هي انها تذكرة رحلة لمكان جديد وبلد أخر، ولكن مع تلك الثلاثية العملاقة لأهم الأحداث التاريخية بالقرن العشرين كان يجب ان تكون الشخصيات من دول مختلفة مما يعني انك من خلال رحلتك بهذه الرواية ستتنقل بين إنجلترا، روسيا، أمريكا، ألمانيا وفرنسا بسلاسة وتشويق للتعرف علي ما حدث بتلك الدول وبقية العالم تحت ضغوط الصراعات والثورات والحروب، والسلام البارد المؤقت
هذه الجنسيات المختلفة ضمنت تقديم صورة محايدة عظيمة لكل الاحداث التاريخية فستجد وجهة نظر النازي والألماني المعادي للفاشية، الروسي الذي يعيش بروسيا والروسي الذي يعيش بأمريكا وغيرها الكثير من وجهات النظر المختلفة لتجد إنك بعكس الكتب النصية التاريخية أمام عمل أدبي يجعلك تتعايش التاريخ من أكثر من زاوية بلا أحكام مسبقة او تلميع لجانب علي حساب أخر
وهذا من اهم اسباب النجاح...النجاح العالمي

5- Including Real Historical Characters متضمنة شخصيات تاريخية حقيقية
ولأن رحلتك مع تلك الشخصيات ستتضمن دبلوماسيين واحداث تاريخية، لذا ستجد بعض الشخصيات الحقيقية تتقابل معها لتثري الدراما وتجعل معايشة الاحداث بشكل افضل، ظهور الشخصيات كما قال المؤلف محسوبا، محادثاتها وأفعالها تنبع من مواقف حقيقية وشواهد تاريخية سواء من الأخبار المرئية او المقروءة
سواء رؤساء دول كمشهد ستالين بعد بدء هجوم الألمان وتغلغلهم في شرق روسيا كان متميزا، أو وزراء أو حتي كما بهذا الجزء علماء ذرة كفصل تجنيد عالم الذرة الذي ساعد أمريكا بناء القنبلة النووية، ويللي فرانز كجاسوس لصالح الاتحاد السوفييتي

6- And Unforgettable Historical Scenes ومشاهد تاريخية لا تنسي
كل هذا يؤدي لضمان قراءة مشاهد تاريخية حقيقية لا تنسي. وكالجزء الأول بالثورة البولشفية بروسيا وجولة وردوور ويلسون بالقطار عبر امريكا، هنا يوجد مشاهد ضخمة كضرب اليابان لبيريل هاربور، قيادة النازيين لليهود المرضي بملابس نومهم إلي مصير غامض ، القنبلة النووية منذ مراحل تصنيعها الأولى وتجربتها في صحراء نيو ميكسيكو، وغيرها من المشاهد السياسية التاريخية التي لا تنسي تقدم هنا بشكل لن يجعلك تنساه
بالإضافة إلى معلومات حقيقية تقنية مختلفة عن فك الشفرات، تعقب الجواسيس، القنبلة الذرية
ولا تنس كالجزء السابق، فكثرة رجوعك لخريطة العالم بالكتاب ستنمي ذاكرتك الجغرافية بقوة

7- All that in One Book كل هذا بكتاب واحد
بكتاب واحد ستعيش كل هذا ، بفصول عنوانها هي التواريخ نفسها التي بها تلك الاحداث السياسية لتجعل تلك الدراما ، بل الحيوات المختلفة لتلك الشخصيات التي ستعيش معها وعائلاتهم في ذاكرتك لفترة طويلة لتجد أنك قد تتذكر أكثر من الافراد الذين عايشوا تلك الأحداث كل هذا ؛من لماذا اندلعت الحرب العالمية الأولي وما شراراتها ؟والنتائج المترتبة علي الثورة البولشفية علي روسيا، وكيف صارت ألمانيا بعد الحرب العالمية الأولي وتحولها من ملكية الي ديموقراطية؟
كيف صعد هتلر من رئيس إلي زعيم فاشي بكل هذه القوة وكيف ساعدته حركة الفاشية بأوروبا وقتها؟ سواء المد الفاشي لموسوليني بايطاليا والنازي لهتلر، بل وغض نظر الحكومة الأمريكية في البداية ، والحكومة المحافظة ببريطانيا؟
كيف تصدت بريطانيا للفاشية وفي اي عام كانت نقطة التحول؟ لماذا بدأت الإمبراطورية اليابانية في غزو أجزاء من شرق آسيا؟ ولماذا أرادت الهيمنة علي المحيط الهادي وما الذي أدى لان تضرب بيريل هاربور بأمريكا ؟ بل وكيف لم تنتبه أمريكا لتلك الضربة مسبقا بالرغم من إنها كانت تراقب كل الإشارات اللاسلكية اليابانية بشكل سري؟
كيف انطفأت عصبة الأمم من بعد الحرب العالمية العظمي، وكيف عادت بشكل ا��أمم المتحدة في الأربعينات؟ وكيف أقنعت أمريكا الإتحاد السوفييتي الأنضمام إلي الأمم المتحدة؟
كيف كان الجوستابو ، الشرطة السرية النازية، يتعقب إشارات راديو الجواسيس؟ وماهو مشروع اكتشون 14 الذي قام بحرق الكثير من المعاقين الألمان بالاخص اليهود منهم والبولشفيين؟ ومتي توقف وكيف؟
كيف تم تصنيع القنبلة الذرية ، وما رد فعل الإتحاد السوفييتي؟
كيف صعد حزب العمال ببريطانيا بالرغم من دعاية تشرشرل المضادة بعد الحرب؟ وكيف عانت ألمانيا حتي من بعد تحريرهم من الحكم النازي؟


لا أعتقد أنني إذا قرأت كل هذا بأحد الكتب النصية التاريخية فحسب أن قد أستطيع إسترجاع كل هذه الاحداث بالتفصيل الذي عايشته من خلال عائلة ايثيل ويليامز من ويلز التي كافحت منذ ان كانت خادمة لايريل انجليزي الي ان صارت عضو برلمان لحقوق العمال، وابنها لويد الذي اهتم بدراسة السياسة للعمل بالدبلوماسية وهو لا يعلم أنه في الحقيقة الابن الغير شرعي للايريل الإنجليزي فيتزربيرت

عائلة فون الريتش الألمانية ،ويليام ابن الدبلوماسي المنتمي للحزب الاشتراكي الديموقراطي الذي قضي عليه النازية وزوجته مود فيتزربيرت التي تزوجته وقت عداء ألمانيا مع إنجلترا برغم معارضة أخوها الأيرل ، وابنتهما كارلا الممرضة التي تشهد اهوال النازية وعنصريتها حتي تجاه المرأة

عائلة جريجوري بيتشكوف في روسيا وابنه فولديا المهتم ايضا بالعمل الدبلوماسي كأبيه والذي يلمس عيوب الشيوعيين عن قرب من غطرسة وتزمت عنيد

عائلة اخيه ليف بيشكوف الذي هاجر لأمريكا ولعب الحظ لعبته، مع استغلاله للفرص، ليكون احد أثرياء أمريكا، وابنته التي تعاني من نظرة المجتمع الامريكي لها بسبب سمعة ابيها ،فتذهب للعيش ببريطانيا لتعيش قصة حب معقدة واختيارات سياسية خاطئة بالبداية

عائلة جس ديوار الدبلوماسي في البيت الأبيض وأبنه وودز وقصة الحب البريئة التي يعيشها ورغبته في المشاركة السياسية، وابنه الاخر تشاك والذي يختار الحياة الحربية في البحرية الامريكية لتغيير الأحداث التاريخية حياتهم الي الابد بالاخص بعد بيرل هاربور

ولتغير اجواء الحرب العالمية الثانية حيوات كل تلك العائلات بشكل كبير...تجمع البعض وتفرق البعض ، تنهي حياة وتبدأ حيوات اخري
في تلك الثلاثية الممتعة
ثلاثية القرن

لا أعتقد اني يجب الا اقدم تنويه بعد كل تلك الإشادة
الرواية ضخمة جدا، وبالرغم من تعدد الشخصيات والأحداث الا انها تفصيلية جدا لذا وجب التنويه بخصوص نقطتين
اولا المشاهد الجنسية موجودة بشكل بسيط ضمن الاحداث ولكن تفصيلي في نفس الوقت...ربما لأسلوب كتابة المؤلف كين فوليت الواضح والراقي في العموم لم أشعر بفجاجة في تلك المشاهد او الاشمئزاز كما يحدث مع بعض المؤلفين الأخرين -بالطبع إلا في مشهد اغتصاب بشع كان الغرض من المشهد أساسا تصوير البشاعة وإثارة شعورك بالقرف بسبب ما أطلق عليه بعض جنود الجيش الاحمر الروسي تحرير ألمانيا من النازية- كما أن المؤلف في اغلب تلك المشاهد تأتي في إطار الزواج إلا فيما ندر، وفي تلك الحالة تكون دائماً العواقب سيئة
لكن يظل بعض التفاصيل هنا قد تثير حفيظة البعض لذا وجب التنويه

ثانيا مشاهد المعارك الحربية ،بعكس مشاهد مثيرة اخري تأتي مشاهد المعارك تفصيلية جدا بشكل قد يثير الملل أحياناً، عاما تلك المشاهد ليست كثيرة خاصا ان ما يخففها هو بعض التحولات الدرامية والمفاجآت سواء في حياة الشخصيات او المعارك الحقيقية نفسها، لذا لا أنصحك بالطبع بتخطي تلك الفصول وإنما قراءتها بشكل سريع لن يضر ولكن يجب ان تنتبه أن لكل فصل منهم حدث مهم سواء درامي أو تاريخي

تنويه أخير
الرواية ليست دراما فحسب ولا تاريخية سياسية فحسب بل هي مزيج بينهما دون طغيان جزء علي اخر
فستوفر لك متعة قراءة دراما مميزة وفي نفس الوقت كم ضخم من المعلومات فإن كنت تمقت احد الاختيارين فهذا ليس عيب الرواية
لكن إن بدأت بها فلا تحاول ان تباعد بين ايام قراءتها او قراءة اكثر من رواية بنفس الوقت ،فهذا قد يسبب ضياع خيوط الرواية الكثيرة من بين يديك

لا انكر ان من بعد قرائتي لرواية سقوط العمالقة ومعايشة اسباب اندلاع تلك الحرب المقيتة، جعلني فعلا متخوفا من قراءة الجزء الثاني لأني اعلم أن الشخصيات التي عايشت معها الحرب العالمية العظمي وويلاتها , والثورة البولشفية في روسيا ومظاهرات حقوق المرأة في التصويت ومظاهرات العمال بانجلترا وامريكا . تلك العائلات سيقع ابناءهم ضحية لحرب جديدة بالرغم من ان العالم لم يتوقع ان يحدث حرب اخري مثل تلك الحرب الشرسة
ولكن فعلا بمجرد البدء بها أسرتني مرة أخري ، سعدت جدا بعودتي لتلك العائلات التي عشت معها العام الماضي ولكن من خلال وجهة نظر ابناءهم هذه المرة بهذا الجزء ، في دراما مثيرة اخري واحداث سياسية تاريخية أعرفها لأول مرة بهذا الشكل عن الحرب العالمية الثانية واجواءها
ويكفيني فعلا قراءة واحدة للرواية لأشعر أني فعلا عايشت تلك الأجواء ولا انساها ابدا

And Finally
There's one more reason...One more reason that the most important of all
وهناك سبب أخير يجب أن تعرفه جيدا, سبب اخير لتقرأ تلك السلسلة غير السبع الماضيين

That History ALWAYS finds its way to Repeat itself..
أن التاريخ دائما يعيد نفسه

"لماذا دائما الأشخاص الذين يريدون دمار كل شئ جيد في بلادهم هم أسرع من يلوح بعلم البلد؟"

“Why was it, Lloyd wondered, that the people who wanted to destroy everything good about their country were the quickest to wave the national flag?”

درامية جميلة بديعة مصحوبة بشجن بسيط وعظات ايضا نتعلمها اخلاقية واجتماعية فضلا عن السياسية والتاريخية
لا أدري كيف شعرت بكل تلك النوستاليجا منذ الفصول الاولي حتي اخر فصل بالرغم من قضائي 20 يوما فقط بالرواية , حوالي 45 ساعة و25 فصلا
ولكنهم كانوا فعلا 15 عاما مع الابطال من 1933 الي 1949
ونصف قرن مع عائلاتهم منذ العام الماضي
لينهي المؤلف كل خيوط الشخصيات بشكل بديع ولكن مازال العالم يمضي ومازال البعض لم يتعلم من التاريخ شيئا

والي لقاء اخر مع احفاد تلك العائلات الكبري التي عشت معها

قد تكون بداية غريبة لعاشق روايات خيالية اكثر... ولكن القراءة في التاريخ بهذه الطريقة مهم , خاصا في عالم علي شفا صراعات اكبر
اتمني لكم قراءات مفيدة , ممتعة ومثيرة ايا كانت اختيارتكم من الكتب او الروايات المهم ان تكون اختيارات ممتعة واسلوب يجذبك لقراءته سواء كتاب نصي او رواية

كل عام وانتم بألف خير

محمد العربي
من 25 ديسمبر 2015
إلي 12 يناير 2016
Profile Image for Jay Connor.
272 reviews78 followers
November 2, 2012
My rating would have been 2 and one-half stars if Goodreads had given me the option. Plus I think the divergence of this review from the "average" of the reviews for the book is as much due to the cognitive dissonance of not "really enjoying" a book that you've slogged thru 960 pages to complete, than a passionate embrace of "Winter."

As much as I liked the first volume of Follett's 20th Century Trilogy -- Fall of Giants -- I was disappointed by this second installment. The back cover blurb: "These characters and many others find themselves inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century." If that sounds like the TV show, Law & Order's breathless "ripped from the headlines," you'll understand the decaying of literacy to pulp we have in this awkward middle child.

The first test of great historical fiction is: did it get the history right? Ken Follett, no surprise, has got the history down pat. I've read quite extensively about the period leading up to and including the Second World War and I think Follett got the pulse of the times and the events aligned to their proper significance, including the important occurrences on the margin e.g., the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project.

The second test, which truly separates the excellent historical fiction from the good is the use of characters and their reactions to and against the riptide of events. With all due respect to the above quoted blurb, it is this area where we are let down. This cast and their human weaknesses and strengths fail to fully inform and make rational the seemingly contradictory and incoherent implosions and dynamisms of the time. Follett continues with the next generation(s) of the interrelated families he introduced us to in "Fall..." -- American, German, Russian, English and Welsh. But here, the sweep of characters instead of being broad feels more incestious. They fail to reveal their world in a fashion better than nonfiction. For example, just considering the rise of the Nazi's, last year's "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson is much more revelatory. Which is harsh indictment of a piece of historical fiction.

This is the second of what Follett is calling his Century Trilogy. Both Follett and installment one are enough to keep me encouraged for the concluding volume, but I am a little leery especially given the working title: "Edge of Eternity." But I guess that is better than "Springtime for the Plutocrats."

Profile Image for Beata.
729 reviews1,115 followers
January 8, 2021
A little disappointed by this volume ... Too much romance, hard-to-believe coincidences and twists and turns. I suppose Part One of the trilogy would suffice ... Most characters act unnaturally or unbelieveably, and at times it feels like Mr Follet struggles to connect the loose ends.
I survived despite the book being rather long, mainly to John Lee, the narrator, who in my opinion found it challenging to keep the straight face.
This is a good book but definitely not a masterpiece and I will not bother with Part Three.
Profile Image for Cee.
378 reviews20 followers
November 14, 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!)
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews347 followers
September 5, 2018
The second in Follett’s Century Trilogy follows the main characters from Fall of Giants and their children as they navigate the major events of the 1930s and 1940s. Readers will see the rise of Nazi Germany, the epic battles of World War II, and the birth of the atomic era through the eyes of men and women from several countries.

Winter of the World is a grand accomplishment, and one of the most thoroughly enjoyable books I’ve read this year. I’m looking forward to the next installment. The novel isn’t always nuanced, and some events are glossed over in the name of moving the plot forward. However, it’s to Follett’s credit that this almost 1000-page book never seems to drag, and that he manages the large cast of characters so deftly.
Follett is at his best when there’s action and intrigue, and there’s plenty of that, especially in the scenes set before and during World War II. A dramatic account of the Battle of Midway serves as a memorable climax to the subplot encompassing the war in the Pacific, while a dramatic confrontation between Boy Fitzherbert and his half-brother Lloyd Williams is a memorable scene from the European front.
I loved this book and have given it five stars for both historical accuracy and its literary form and I highly recommend reading this book. I can't wait for the third work in this outstanding trilogy and marvel at the scope of the authors undertaking.
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 15 books10.1k followers
September 11, 2020
Just finished my second read through. I’m so happy to dive back into this trilogy full of amazing characters. This book makes me the most uncomfortable—it deals with the most lose and offers little relief to the reader. For every triumph you see another character pushed to the breaking point.
Profile Image for Bill.
99 reviews9 followers
July 15, 2013
Congratulations, Ken Follett! You've taken the most destructive conflict this world has ever seen and turned it into a wan and tawdry soap opera! Worse yet, you have cribbed unmercifully from Herman Wouk's Winds of War. I'm assuming Kenny is hoping that readers will be unaware that a 40-plus-year-old book already covered the same globe-trotting style and settings that is the backbone for both novels. If that was his aim, I can only envy the readers who haven't sampled Wouk's superior effort. Perhaps Kenny's attempt wouldn't seem like such a blatant rip-off. That would have to assume that the reader can overlook such glaring faults as a novel filled to the brim with White Hats and Black Hats, the only characters Follett seems able to create. If a character is good, they have to pick a hairstyle that fits their halo. If the character's bad, not even an Exorcist tag-team of young priest/old priest will have the power to drive the demon from them.
If the two-dimensional characters aren't enough to spoil the experience for the discerning reader, perhaps the overabundance of sexytime talk will. Follett wallows in sex with all the dignity of a dirty old man in a coin-operated booth at an adult book store. When one of the female White Hats is ruminating on her troubled marriage to one of the book's very naughty Black Hats, Follett feels the need to drive the point home by telling us that she has to grease up her vagina just to have intercourse with her husband. A writer with even a shred of imagination would have been able to get that point across without shoving the reader's hand into a tub of KY jelly.
I think I should state that I would not deem the aforementioned Winds of War as a literary classic. It is, at its best, a noble effort to encompass the global strife of World War II, while putting a face to some of the people caught up in the maelstrom. But allow me to compare one of the many, many scenes that both authors cover. In 1941, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt met with Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill in an historic event known as the Atlantic Conference. Even after some twenty years, I recall a poignant moment from Wouk's novel in which Roosevelt, one of the most powerful men in the world and a victim of polio, has to be assisted by his son as he hobbles toward this legendary meeting. What shall forever be burned into my mind on Follett's coverage of the same event is that he speeds through it in about three pages so we can rush back to Washington D.C. where some guy gets a hand job. That, more than anything, sums up this execrable book; a long, painful hand job from a dirty old man.
96 reviews596 followers
December 28, 2014
A journey through the horrors of World War 2 through the eyes of different people from England, the USA, Russia, and of course, Germany. This starts with the NSDAP taking over German politics in 1933 and ends in 1949 with the separation of Germany into West and East. Reading these 1000 pages was an emotional roller coaster.

After loving the Fall of Giants (centered around WWl) I had very high expectations. The historical content definitely didn't disappoint. Various POVs introduced British, American, Russian, and German perspectives from different genders, ages or social backgrounds. I loved following all these different story lines and even though there are a ton, I never felt like it was too much or that one got lost among the others. What I was a little disappointed by were the romantic stories. They felt a little forced especially towards the end. The term 'insta-love' came to my mind one or two times. But that never bothered me too much considering the big picture. And who am I to judge romance during a time when every day could be your last.

What I was missing was a jewish perspective among the various POVs. Throughout the story a couple of Jews from different social backgrounds are mentioned, but considering the horrors of WW2 I feel like a perspective was missing. I guess it has to be mentioned that this book focuses a lot on the political aspect of the war which creates a good balance to the actual inhuman tragedies, which by the way never are described in a way that turns you away from the story. Concentration camps for example are never experienced 1st hand through a witnessed, but through the eyes of a young girl from Berlin who slowly discovers what the Nazi regime really is about. I found this to be an easy way of experiencing those darkest chapters of the war. On the other hand, I'm not sure if those should be made easier to stomach. I'm of the opinion that we should be confronted with what really happened every now and again. Considering the huge readership/mainstream audience it might just be a good compromise. Not everybody would be able to handle that (this would make an interesting discussion)

This book didn't specifically focus on what happened in Germany which I loved. We learn what was going on in the USA, Russia, Spain and Britain. It's an amazing read if you feel like refreshing your knowledge about world history (fascism in Spain, communism in Eastern Europe, Pearl Harbour, the creation of the atomic bomb, Hiroshima and many, many more). I can't stress enough how important I think books like these are. We should never forget and learn from the past. I think this would be an emotional and suspenseful read for everyone, but especially as a German and as someone whose grandparents were born into a completely destroyed Germany I found myself deeply moved by my countries history. It isn't a book that shames Germans, but that depicts the horrors of the Nazi regime, as well as European Fascism and Eastern Communism in the 1st half of the 20th century.

One of the story lines that especially moved me and that will stay with me for a long time is when the young German girl from Berlin finds out about how the Nazis were killing handicapped people from all ages as well as the mentally ill. My grandmother was born in 1943 suffering from epilepsy as well as deformed hands (they never stopped her. She would later become a secretary and amazing woman ;)). My great grandparents had to hide her for the first years of her life because of the Nazi program titled T4. It was the only time the German people stood up to Hitler and the government had to stop the program after 70 000 people had already lost their lives. Of course, it kept going just more secretly.
I feel like sharing this personal experience here because I'm grateful this book sparked a conversation with my family and because it is SO SO SO important that we keep these stories alive. They can only make us better people. As you can probably tell, if you've gotten this far, this book deeply moved me, and made me more aware of the fact that those horrid and inhumane events of WW2 happened only 70 years ago. It's difficult to wrap my head around that fact sometimes. I can't wait to start the 3rd book in this series which will center around the German separation.

Don't be afraid of picking up this 1000 page book. You can't do these big events in history justice in less. It's worth the challenge. READ IT!
Profile Image for Glenn.
36 reviews6 followers
March 20, 2014
Well, I just finished this thing and I did like it, but not as much as the first installment.

The best part of this novel is the history, Follett is able to distill it into bite size little nuggets and integrate the info into readable dialogue. I learned a ton about China and her role in the remaking of the UN, new information on why Japan was so aggressive during the run up to Pearl Harbor, atomic bomb development in the US, and many other historical antecedents of the Cold War.

Follet just about skips over the Holocaust though, even though some of his central characters are in Germany. Sure, he acknowledges the sufferings of Jews and others, but as a plot point it's not even touched. People just go to camps, die or come back broken and disfigured.

Follet spends more time on the sex lives of his characters than he does on mass round ups and systematic extermination. To be fair, he does have some of his characters entangled in the Nazis euthanasia program for the mentally ill, but that's it.

I truly enjoyed how Follett brought me into the inner sanctums of government, whether it be the Russian, British or American incarnations. These parts were the gems for me, as they illustrated how the world was/is nothing but a chess board for the elite and moneyed to manipulate.

Also, just a pet peeve, but Follett repeated and paraphrased the same points over and over again. Not everything needs to be prefaced by what happened on the previous 5 pages. I was paying attention, just get on with it.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,199 reviews2,584 followers
May 16, 2018
*** 3 ***

Since I am on hiatus from writing reviews for the month, being a beach bum 😀, I just wanted to note that this was another typical for the author work of Historical Fiction. However, maybe it is me, maybe it is the fact that I grew up in the Eastern Block and have some knowledge of the history there, the author 's prejudices are even more obvious and no matter how unwillingly they might creep up, they hamstring him and put his writing in a box much too small for the scope he intends. I actually want to believe that he is trying to give a fair view of all the sides, but he can't help write through his own experiences of a Western born and raised individual, thus his writing will always slant that way. I guess it was just a bit too obvious here... Once again, if you have this in mind and don't take everything as the complete truth, it is a good overview of the World during WWII...
Profile Image for Katie.
308 reviews40 followers
February 18, 2013
I was a fan of Ken Follett's previous books (Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and, to an extent, Fall of Giants) but I really didn't enjoy this book. I felt like he "phoned it in" or rushed to get it out quickly, which was disappointing.

My main problems with the novel were: 1) unrealistic dialogue 2) extremely predictable plot points 3) characters you don't really care about (although I did have a warm spot for Daisy) and 4) lack of nuance/complexity in characters.

However, I did think Follett did a commendable job at somehow packaging the main events of 20 years into a compelling, readable fiction. Not only does he address the obvious historical events of World War II, but he also shed light on the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project, which was interesting and informative. I read criticism that he glosses over the Depression, the Stalinist purges of the '30s, and the Holocaust, and he certainly does, but I did like that he looks at the treatment of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany. You don't really come across that in many books about World War II-era Germany, and it was horrific and sickening and, I think, very important for us to never forget.

Another critique of this book on GoodReads said that Follett is not a good writer, but a master storyteller, and I agree. I thought his writing was atrocious in parts, eyeroll-worthy in others, and I frequently flipped through five or six pages at a time, not bothering to read them because it was so obvious what was going to happen it was boring, but at the same time...I DID keep reading, all 900+ pages, so that tells you something. You still want to find out what happens at the end, even if it's hard to summon up the energy to care about Greg Peshkov or even Woody Dewar, who I'm sure is a great guy and all, but is not terribly interesting nor three-dimensional. Maybe Follett's arena - the 20th century and families from Germany, England, Wales, America, and Russia - is just too broad and ambitious, yet I've read generational stories that span countries or years that have been done to great success (Aksyonov's Generations of Winter,John Jakes' North and South.

Also - the sex stuff IS a little much, and I'm by no means a prude when it comes to sex scenes in literature. But honestly, Follett writes about it way too much, to the point where I think that's why the characters come off as so flat and two-dimensional. And the sex scenes are ludicrously written. One of them contained something about how a character "squirted" all over this girl and the description was so disgusting and infantile I said "ew" out loud while reading. Look, I'm sure sex scenes are hard to write but Follett's just came across as something a barely pubescent boy would write.

Will I read the third book of the trilogy? Maybe. I won't rush out to buy it. I'd wait until it's out in paperback and get it at the library for a beach read.
Profile Image for Luffy.
867 reviews720 followers
March 30, 2022
Ken Follett seems to enjoy a longevity that would be the envy of Kafka or Nietzsche. If you weren't aware, I'm talking about his long life, not his hegemony. Follett is also without doubt a very successful author, who has hundreds of thousands of fans around the world. I'm not going to join that particular club.

Follett's book, Winter of the World, has clues littered over its face as to the secret of its success, just like a naughty kid has crumbs over his maws after pilfering the cookie jar. The first book, Fall of Giants, got one star from me. So maybe I should stop reading his books? But I have avoided the lure of his historical thrillers successfully. To this day therefore, I cannot tell you why I ceded to this WW2 book.

The deaths of the innocent is the fuel which drives the mechanism of this book. The stakes ought to be high, but this ambitious book about multi-generations and rendezvous with history seems stuffy as the stage of a high school. Follett tries to camouflage the deaths which (perhaps) seemed right and logical to him, with deaths that are not vindictive or strangely fateful. This book is very limited.

Every single woman that is interesting meets a tragedy in one form or other. While there are men who risk their lives daily in the war to end all wars - haha - the women are either boring hopefuls whose aim is to get their men, or monosyllabic geniuses who somehow untangle their tongues to narrate convenient past familial tragedies.

The men are dealt a farcical card, in a universe, that, when guided by Follett's pen, seems jocularly simplistic. The sole intriguing fact about this book are the couples and maybe happy marriages that survive their acid tests. The unions in this book are devoid of romance. Even the most focused of romances, which ought to feel like a mini slice of harlequinism (that word ought to exist) are as famous as the year your warm beer was made. Dusting off my review of Fall of Giants, it seems that the author has continued in creating characters that have a life that looks like the high school overachiever. All the characters, without fault, have the most exciting part of their lives when they are 21.

While some arcs have less melodrama than others, those that don't, just ruin the effect of danger that the book strives to have. The plot is logical when it is convenient, and its opposite when it is inconvenient. The lack of respect for the reader means that many who have given this book a positive score have ignored or been unaware of it. Congrats Kenny, you know the odds, if not your audience.

The worst things about this book is that it lets major bias from the author creep in. First of all, one character keeps the love child of a rapist. Her revenge is that she will raise her kid to be someone you know, who treats men and women equally respectfully. Banzai! Also, Truman thought he was the king of the world? The truest and most honest man to hold any kind of office in world history?

This book lacks the cruelty of Pillars of the Earth, for which I am personally thankful. But its senseless romance, its staged suspense, its deliberate putdown of women, its unawareness of what is clever and what is stupid, all undo the hard work of the research to which Follett has probably had access to. This is the work of a successful, prolific, inspiring, and experienced writer. It feels like the work of an AI who has been programmed to imitate the writing style of a combination of a 16th century Calvinist monk and Barbara Cartland. Follett, take up a hobby and enjoy your twilight years, there's a good lad.
Profile Image for Carl.
124 reviews13 followers
April 11, 2016
The 20th century is the most dramatic and violent period in the history of the human race. We killed more people in the 20th century than in any previous century, in the trenches of World War I, in the Soviet Union under Stalin, in Germany under the Nazis, Spain under Franco. There was World War II and the bombing of Dresden by the British and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a horrible century and yet it is also the century of liberty.

Very few countries were democratic before the First World War. In Britain in 1900, fewer than a quarter of the adult population had the vote. None of the women had the vote in any of these countries, so that’s 50 per cent of the people who weren’t allowed to take part in democracy. And the franchise was gradually extended to working class men, so democracy really only had a toehold in the world in 1900. Now we take it for granted, certainly in all the countries we think are “civilized.” And that’s a big contrast with what we did in terms of killing each other.

This is one of the most sweeping reviews of the evolution of class structure, politics, war, and development of the world during the 20th century that I've found outside of books documenting individual events. Follett's ability to use his characters to give you a first hand experience of the subtle and not so subtle effects of these events highlight the point that no event, decision, or action is ever black and white, and it's effects are never as simple as assumed before they are made.
Profile Image for NILTON TEIXEIRA.
825 reviews257 followers
December 29, 2021
5 stars for the entertainment level. This was a page turner for me.

This book has been sitting on my shelves since its release, but mostly because I wasn’t ready to face its size (313k words, 940 pages and the audiobook is 32 hours at normal speed).

As with “Fall of Giants”, which I read back in May of 2020, I don’t feel guilty for taking me this long.

This is another ambitious work of fiction by Ken Follett. Here he covers the years between 1933 and 1949.

I was hooked from the beginning and I did not want to put it down. It is that engrossing. Plus, I simply adore his writing.

I also had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook narrated by John Lee, who did a superb job, during my reading.

This book is full of unforgettable characters with their own gripping stories.

I don’t feel the need of pointing out all of the positive or negative things in this book.

Yes, it is not flawless but, as an entertainment, it is awesome!

If you decide to read this trilogy for the first time, I would suggest that you keep in mind that this is a work of fiction and not a series with the purpose to teach history (per example, Canada is barely mentioned)

As for myself, I read it as if I was watching a very long soap opera, as it has all the ingredients.

Some readers complained of its sexual content, but I did not see anything outrageous or that I have not read before.
My only complaint is that I don’t like when an author creates convenient coincidences to connect the characters, like he did in this book. It makes the world significantly smaller.

PS. This time I will not wait. I’m adding the 3rd book to my January 2022 list. I noticed that I have a few copies: 3 ebooks (Kobo, Kindle & iBook), one hardcover and one paperback.
Profile Image for Christine Hughes.
2 reviews3 followers
September 23, 2012
Ken Follett's second book in his Century trilogy ' Winter of the
World ' is turning in to an excellent dramatisation of Eric Hobsbawm's ' The Age of Extremes '.

It has all the ingredients of ' Fall of Giants ' easy to read, absorbing, intriguing and never far from actuality of the age. I would recommend this book to anyone who is not really into History but likes a cracking story.
Profile Image for Waheed Rabbani.
Author 19 books23 followers
January 4, 2014
Fall of Giants, Book One of Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy, had ended in January 1924 at the finish of World War I and the Russian Revolution, showing a nine-year-old boy shaking hands with his father. Book Two, Winter of the World, commences in February 1933, with eleven-year-old Carla in the kitchen of her Berlin home wondering what her parents, English born Maud, and German born Walter von Ulrich, were arguing about. Book One’s readers would also be unsure what the quarrel was for, as they would recall them to be an amorous couple, who had defied the establishment and married in London—when Walter was a German diplomat there—on the eve of the Great War. We soon learn that the row was about Walter’s objection to an uncomplimentary article on Adolf Hitler, written by Maud in a German magazine, where she worked. It was not that Walter was a Nazi, for he was a Social Democratic Party representative in the Reichstag, but he feared: “It would infuriate the Nazis … and … they’re dangerous when riled.” Before long Walter’s predictions come true. The “Brownshirts” soon start disrupting meetings of parties opposing Hitler, and attacking Jews and others in the streets. The novel thus begins evocatively, covering the rise of a new giant, the Third Reich, from the ashes of the previous one, which throws the world into a “winter.”

Just as in Book One of the trilogy, this novel continues with the story of the five interrelated families—English, Welsh, German, Russian, and American—who live through some of the major world-events from 1933 to 1949. This part features: the rise of Fascists and Nazis, WW II, the development and dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan and the start of the Cold War. The plot now includes not only some of the previous characters, but also their children. It seems Follett does not need as many characters, as noted in the previous book’s six pages. In this novel they are listed on five pages, which makes it a more intimate read. While the list is handily presented, at the beginning of the book, most readers—including those not having read Fall of Giants—will likely not feel the need to refer to it.

Although the narrative swings, from country to country and family to family, the characters, particularly those not having ‘come on stage’ for a while, are reintroduced by a skillful clue, enabling readers to identify them immediately. Particularly, their names: Chuck, Gus, Woody, Boy, Maud, Lloyd, Erik, Volodya, and so on, are well chosen and recognizable representatives of their country of origin. Although that period’s historical events are well known, from film and history texts, the narrative thread of these individuals, whom we care for and wish to learn more about, would encourage readers to keep turning the pages of this magnum opus. The result is not only an entertaining reading of their love stories and sexual experiences, but also an insight into the calamity, the horrors, the pain and sufferings of these people, who lived through those tumultuous times. Also, concurrently, we gain an insight into the monumental efforts made by the Allies to bring the Nazi menace to its knees. To accomplish this, Ken Follett has used the tools of an historical fiction novelist admirably. The casts’ locations, education, job functions, and personal characteristics are well chosen, which enable them to mix seamlessly with real historic characters at most of the important proceedings, such as political demonstrations, vandalisms, spying, strategy planning meetings, military campaigns, peace talks and so on. These give us the thrill of having shared the mental thoughts and lived through those events beside the characters. Not only that, but Follett’s eye for detail, such as, people turn on their radio sets and wait for them to warm up before the sound comes, puts us right in that epoch.

Nevertheless, in order to make all of the above happen, Follett has had to use the fictional story-tellers’ favorite device of ‘coincidence’ in this book, as much he did in the former. The actors happen to be, proverbially, at the right place at the right time, to meet the right person. Some readers might find this unnerving. For instance, in one scene a soldier, while serving clandestinely in France, rescues the pilot of a downed aircraft, who turns out to be his half-brother, on a sortie out of England! However, this reviewer would agree with the dialogue between the characters: “It’s a small world … Isn’t it?” For such quirks of fate do happen. [Actually, in a similar fluke, I once happened to meet my cousin—who lives in a city over 10,000 Kms away from mine—at the Dubai Airport, while changing flights, although we were both on separate trips!]

The Spanish Civil War is covered in some depth, and its major lesson is enunciated by a Welsh character, Lloyd, as: “ … we have to fight the Communists just as hard as the Fascists. They’re both evil.” As it turns out, the Communists helped to subdue the Nazis, and the Cold War with them was yet to come.

Quite naturally, Follett was not able to capture, in detail, all the theaters of the WW II, such as the Dunkirk evacuation, the battles in North Africa, Italy, Burma and elsewhere. But, the ones he has covered, are presented movingly and the action sequences are in sufficient detail to bring them visually before our eyes, but not so monotonously—as in some war movies—to make them tedious. The best coverage is of the War in the Pacific, particularly the Battle of Midway and the sinking of the USS Yorktown, told through the eyes of Chuck Dewar, a closeted-gay US naval officer. Follett’s introduction of diverse characters, and the portrayal of an interracial love affair brings additional vividness to the novel.

Possibly, because the topic, of the Nazi Concentration Camps for Jews and others, is well covered elsewhere, they only have a passing mentioned in this novel. However, Follett has included at some length the discovery and the eventual closing of the not too well known Aktion T4 “hospitals.” While this novel covers just one such institution, it is known that there were about six, where many thousands of German citizens deemed to be incurably sick, mentally incapacitated or physically handicapped were euthanized. They were, not coincidentally, also mostly of Jewish and mixed races. The novel describes the thrilling bravery of the German teenage girls, Carla and Frieda, to collect evidence that through the efforts of German clergy and public opinion, which finally persuaded the Fuhrer to close the program.

While there are many real and fictional politicians, spies and their clandestine activities abound in the novel. Here Follett, as a masterpiece thriller novelist, is on familiar territory. Since the story lines are those of the children of the characters in Book One, they are mostly teenagers or slightly older. Yet, they perform remarkable feats of international espionage, with ease, which turns the course of wars and fates of nations. Such as the young Volodya, who after conducting several successful undercover activities for the Russians in Berlin, is sent all the way to Albuquerque New Mexico, in 1945, when he is still only about thirty. His mission: to bring back the plans of the nuclear bomb.

The third part of this novel, called “The Cold Peace,” sets the stage for the final Book Three of the Century Trilogy. The characters, children of the ones in Book One, now have kids of their own, who will undoubtedly play a prominent role in the Cold War storylines to come. The final chapter’s ending, similar to the Book One’s, shows a child blowing out his birthday candles, indicative of the promise a new beginning. However, will they live in peace? We will have to wait for the Book Three to find out.

Ken Follett, in the recent promotional interviews for the Winter of the World, disclosed that he had the typescript of the novel read by a number of notable historians. They are also mentioned in the acknowledgements. It seems that their help, and Follett’s skilful research has made this novel, except for the fictional characters, historically correct. Finishing reading this 960-page novel is a much easier feat, than writing it. Hence readers should raise a glass, of Ken Follett’s favorite champagne, in a toast to his arduous undertaking for taking us on this memorable century long journey.

Reviewed from an advanced reading eGalley, complements of Dutton/Penguin

Waheed Rabbani is a historical fiction author, whose books are available on Amazon and elsewhere.
Profile Image for Nancy.
52 reviews
November 4, 2012
I was a First Reads winner! I feel so lucky that I won a copy of this book. I have a habit of opening a book and reading the first couple of sentences in the book. If it doesn't grab my attention I have a hard time reading on. I can't actually review this book yet because I am not quite done with "Fall Of Giants" yet, which I insist on finishing first. I am really enjoying that book so far. I love the setting and the characters are interesting. I very much want to see what becomes of them. I did also read "Pillars Of The Earth" and "World Without End" and They are both up there on my favorites list. I even got my sister copies and insisted she read them both. I did also watch the mini-series of "Pillars Of The Earth" and I really liked how that came out too. I will update my review when I do finish "Winter Of The World". Just in case anyone is wondering, yes I did open the book already and read the first sentence... actually I read the whole page and had to stop myself. I can't wait to read on. Thanks again Good Reads for such a great website , Ken Follett for your great stories, and Dutton who listed this book for the giveaway.
"Winter Of The World", Love the beginning! If my eyes would stay open I would have read all night. : )

I love the way Ken Follet weaves the story back and forth between the characters and places. That's what I liked in the Pillars Of The Earth too. I liked the book a lot, I am looking forward to the next book.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,015 reviews364 followers
January 21, 2020
Mais outro calhamaço do mestre do romance histórico que li há "bué", e que estou certa de ter gostado 👍
Profile Image for Anthems.
188 reviews89 followers
February 4, 2021

Aviso: voy a ponerle 5 estrellas pero no es un libro de 5 estrellas (para mí, por supuesto), solo que a mi la fórmula Follet me gusta demasiado. Es una debilidad personal, qué le voy a hacer. Incorregible. No obstante a fin de compensarlo voy a centrarme en los puntos flacos de "El Invierno del mundo".

El libro está concebido para adornar todas las librerías y estanterías domésticas que os podáis imaginar: típico regalo de Navidad con el que no te equivocas, aunque al final el beneficiario no se lo suela leer. Tiene un lomo y una encuadernación espléndida que embellece y prestigia cualquier hogar; todos sabemos que a la gente le encanta que le regalen libros porque presupone cierta predisposición cultural.

En líneas generales es una obra palomitera y rosa, con excesivos amoríos, atiborrada de referencias sexuales. Todo eso facilita su venta masiva pero disminuye su calidad, al fin y al cabo hablamos de ficción histórica y no de novela romántica. Es la consabida novela donde priman más los personajes que el contexto histórico. Ojo, que los protagonistas están perfectamente construidos: vivos y creíbles, traspasan el papel y forman parte de ti.

Eso sí, son asquerosamente tópicos, estandarizados hasta la náusea: la pija renegada que acaba siendo humilde; el homosexual condenado al ostracismo; el seductor que acaba bajando al barro; el ambicioso desmedido pero con responsabilidades paternales; el egocéntrico desmedido; el de la crisis existencial y el que a todos nos va a caer estupendamente. Son perfiles manidos, pero que gustan, y el autor galés nos los introduce todos. La innovación es nula.

El autor recrea muy pocas escenas bélicas y se limita a ir nombrándolas, por lo que pasan a un segundo plano. Al final Follet se centra en los acontecimientos más morbosos y popularmente conocidos: política de no intervención en la Guerra Civil española, programa eugenésico nazi, NKVD y Gestapo, la carrera nuclear, bombardeos a población civil y movimientos geopolíticos varios. Por tanto escasa novedad tanto en temática histórica como en caracterización. Antes de empezar ya sabes qué personaje va a vivir cada uno de los horrores de la guerra. Muy previsible.

En definitiva: ínfima carga histórica, y la poca que hay un tanto sesgada e influida por la ideología socialdemócrata del autor. Todo esta sepultado por cantidades industriales de azúcar. El invento se salva porque Follet sabe muy bien jugar a esto y es difícil no leerte el libro en cuatro días escondiéndote por tu casa y evitando tu entorno (ahora es más fácil, y aconsejable, por el COVID) con la finalidad de sacar minutos para la lectura.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
December 30, 2015
I DID IT hell yeah
So, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one but I still did love it. These books are so fascinating because they manage to cover so much information in only 900 pages. This one gave such an interesting perspective on World War II and the homefront. I love how you get to see all of the facets of the war, not just the battles. The characters were lovable as it follows the children of the characters from the first book so I felt like I already knew them. My one issue is that I think I had hyped it up a bit too much for myself. World War II is one of my favourite historic topics to study and read about so I had very high expectations for this and they were just let down a smidgen. I was hoping one of the perspectives would be from someone in a concentration camp but instead there was only an outside view of the concentration camps. I just wish they had been more of a prevalent topic in the story if that makes sense. But, other than that I really loved it! Ken Follett really is an expert storyteller as he is able to create such captivating narratives and create a realistic portrait of the world in the crisis of World War II. I can't wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
October 16, 2012
An interesting long....................long.................... read but not up to the standard of Pillars or Fall of Giants.
Profile Image for Erin.
137 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2012
Think you could never empathize with a communist, a socialist, the elitist, anarchist, or aristocrat? Think again, because Follett takes you front and center into the lives of such people in his second book of the Century Trilogy with a passion and clarity that delivers the story of their struggles and triumphs to a place beyond our manufactured understanding and created historical boxes.

I love a great familial pan-Atlantic historical epic, and KF is incredibly precise in describing the minutiae which transforms how the reader would otherwise have thought about the various settings. I love to be humbled by this kind of knowledge.

Strong female characters are a trademark, and I find it more satisfying that his plainer folk see most of the action and heroics. There is a slight tendency to make out characters possessing a greater share of beauty and riches to be antagonistic, but it certainly varies and blends well enough. His sex is bluntly male at times, but seems to lack a coarseness found in many of his counterparts, and I enjoy his intimate contributions. If you’re confused by politics, hold on-because there’s plenty. If intrigued, just read into the lives of those seeking to make a difference in the world as they understand it. His stories come together with an uncanny realism, but let his critics not forget this is fiction, which is fantasy, after all, and will never read the same as biography.

I didn’t trust him to handle battle scenes during WWI in a way that wouldn’t cause me to lose interest, yet somehow, I was captivated instead of repelled. Once again, with Winter, I actually dreaded the certainty of enduring endless WWII soldier deaths. Had I forgotten the London Blitz or the bombing of Berlin and the civilians who lived, died, and fought for their lives? Our characters are in the midst of these, transporting us to the most basic emotions of compassion.

Winter of the World is very much a continuation of Fall of Giants, and I’m not happy with having to wait for the third installment. I would admit to liking Giants somewhat more, but I’m not sure why. That would take more study than this post allows. Of course, I’m nervous about the Cold War. And the 60’s? God help us. I choose to remain faithful that KF will have me seeing the light.
Profile Image for Karl Jorgenson.
534 reviews26 followers
August 14, 2021
Classic Follett. An ensemble cast, but nearly doubled in size since the last book, as it’s been twenty years and another generation has reached maturity. This book covers the period from the rise of the Nazis to the beginning of the cold war, following the personal stories of British (Welsh), German, and American characters. There would be five or six pretty good novels in this enormous tome, each focused on one or two of the characters, but Follett’s style is to blend them all together. This works well because each of the character’s lives makes a gripping story, and because Follett is brilliant at connecting them, so the American half-brother meets the Russian half-brother as they work against the Nazis, etc. Though in this book Follett goes a few steps too far, throwing in some connections that are so astronomically unlikely as to be laughable. What are the odds that a random Allied plane shot down next to your secret mission in France would be piloted by someone you have a complex relationship with? It still works with a little suspension of disbelief, and this is what fiction is always about: distilling life down to human connections that matter.
Follett’s portrayal of war is vivid, and balanced with lots and lots of hot sex, which is also vivid (and graphic.) His use of history is accurate (as far as I can tell) right down to the make of the trucks sent to the USSR and the horsepower of a 1937 Mercedes. Curiously, his characters (speaking on the author’s behalf) are very apologetic for the Imperial Japanese Militarists. Oh, the Japanese are just trying to protect their commercial future, the characters argue. (By invading China, and making war on America.) Has Follett not heard of Nanking? Regardless of the opinions held by Japanese peasants, the Japanese army, at every level, was as bad as the worst Nazis.
Profile Image for Susana.
480 reviews142 followers
November 11, 2019
(review in English below)

Gostei bastante mais deste volume do que do primeiro.

Senti-me envolvida nas vidas das diferentes personagens e até preocupada com o que lhes iria acontecer, que foi essencialmente o que me faltou no livro anterior.

As descrições das batalhas e doutros acontecimentos relacionados com a guerra também me pareceram mais dinâmicas e emotivas, talvez por haver muito mais informação e documentos, incluindo imagens, da Segunda Guerra Mundial em comparação com a Primeira.

Vou começar o terceiro volume mais animada do que estava ao começar este, a ver se o autor consegue manter o nível.

I enjoyed this book much better than the first one.

I felt involved in the lives of the different characters and I was even worried about what would happen to them, which was essentially what I missed in the previous book.

The descriptions of the battles and other events regarding the war also felt more dynamic and emotive, maybe because there is much more information and documents, including images, from World War II than from WWI.

I'm heading to the third volume in a better mood than the one I was in when I started this one, let's see if the author is able to keep this level.
10 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2012
I finished it because I felt I had to. Hoping perhaps an unexpected plot twist, or something, might convince me that wading through 960 pages would be worth it. Sadly, the last page turned left me as empty as the previous many. Each page turned revealed the expected, formulaic and dull running commentary of 5 families and their involvement in the history of the time. Characters such as Maud, so interesting in the first book, so glossed over in this – Ethel Leckwith so strong in the first book so ignored as a character here. Boy Fitzherbert should have been a character with a lot more to say about everything, except he's written as cliched fool. It seems Follett was so keen to race through History he forgot about what made the first in the trilogy enjoyable - his characters, their personalities and how they interact with each other.
I will probably buy the third in this series just to see what happens. I just hope is better than this book - it's so disappointing in so many ways. A big shame because most of Follett's work I have enjoyed immensely.
Profile Image for Matt Schiariti.
Author 10 books151 followers
November 15, 2012
There are reasons why Ken Follett is one of my favorites, if not THE favorites and Winter of the World is another shining example of why.

WOW picks up ten years after the end of Fall of Giants. While it does have the original cast from the previous installment, it's more about the second generation: their children. It spans the time from the rise of Hitler and his Nazi regime, through the Spanish Revolution, WWII, Pearl Harbor, the advent of the nuclear bomb, the subsequent bombing of Japan and ends in the 50s.

While its well researched and equally well told, it wouldn't be anything more than a history book if it weren't for a diverse and nicely constructed cast. Winter of the World has that in spades. While putting his characters through all kinds of world changing and hellish scenarios, Follett never diverges away from interpersonal drama, relationships and subplots. What he puts his characters through runs the gamut from the uplifting to the downright terrifying. Loves are won and lost, families are born, battles are fought, atrocities are lived through and overcome. Each and every character is well fleshed out and reacts logically. Using a combination of personal motives and moral codes, Follett's characters react to the real world and historical events he's made them a part of in a believable and logical way. They react to what's going on around them and make their decisions based on their beliefs and the state of the world around them. Nobody puts fictional characters into true events like Ken Follett. *As an aside, my favorite characters and story lines center around Lloyd, Carla, Woody and Daisy.*

It's an amazing accomplishment that, for the second time, he's interspersed the real and the fictional into such a broad sweeping and well written work. I don't know how he does it but he does.

I've read many of the previous reviews and see the low average rating. As it turns out, many of the one and two star reviews are from people complaining about the price...even BEFORE the book was released. Rating a book solely based on the price before ever even reading it is, in my humble opinion, silly, uninformative and unfair to the author. If it's too costly, go to a library. If if wasn't to your liking AFTER having read it, then base the review on that. Complaining about price is a waste of everybody's time.

But I digress.

Winter Of The World is a fine example of why I love Ken Follett's books and, more importantly, why I love to read. You just can't help but get swept up in the characters and the time periods he writes about. Fantastic.
Profile Image for Marco Tamborrino.
Author 6 books167 followers
October 26, 2012
“Why was it, Lloyd wondered, that the people who wanted to destroy everything good about their country were the quickest to wave the national flag?”

Non ho letto il libro in inglese, ma non avendo sottolineato le citazioni, per evitare di cercarle ho preso quella che mi serviva in inglese.

Dunque, non c'è molto da dire. È un buon romanzo, senza infamia e senza lode, un buon romanzo che ha il vantaggio di lasciarsi leggere quasi troppo facilmente, tanto che se uno è privo di grandi impegni, può leggerselo in 3-4 giorni.

Parliamoci chiaro: il progetto della trilogia Century è ambizioso e lodevole. Quindi bravo Ken Follett. Un progetto del genere, però, non richiede solo una grande documentazione storica, politica e scientifica, ma anche tanta pazienza e tanto lavoro di rifinitura. Lavoro che, nel caso di questo secondo capitolo, non è stato assolutamente svolto. Il primo m'è sembrato più completo, più studiato. Se parli della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, non puoi lasciar perdere eventi fondamentali solo perché in 1000 pagine non ti ci stanno o perché non hai voglia di parlarne. Ne scrivi 1500, di pagine, oppure stringi il carattere, ché tanto quello che usi è decisamente grande. Magari, invece di metterci due anni, ce ne mettevi 5 - e lo so che l'attesa è orribile per noi lettori -, e ci presentavi un lavoro fatto come cazzo si deve. Le ultime 200 pagine, tralasciando le ultimissime 10, sono davvero brutte. Di una svogliatezza sconcertante. Non rovinano di certo le decine di belle pagine che le precedono, ma stonano terribilmente.

Mi parli della Guerra Civile di Spagna e poi nemmeno una pagina sull'Italia fascista o su Mussolini? E la notte dei cristalli?

Apprezzabilissimo il tentativo di paragone tra le brutture del nazismo e del comunismo, e a questo propostito è importantissima la figura di Erik, da fervente nazista a fervente comunista. Drammatica la presa di Berlino da parte dei sovietici. Sbagliato additare tutti i tedeschi come nazisti.

Bellissimo il personaggio di Daisy, di una dinamicità incredibile. Il suo percorso di maturazione è splendido e rappresenta un grande insegnamento.
Profile Image for Semjon.
638 reviews326 followers
February 18, 2023
DNF. Ich fand diesen seifenopernartigen Stil völlig unpassend für eine Geschichte die in Zeiten des Dritten Reiches spielt. Aber dieser Punkt alleine hätte mich noch nicht zum Abbruch des Buchs bewogen, denn der Aufbau ist ja typisch für die historischen Romane Folletts. Ich habe stets das Gefühl, dass er seine Handlungsstränge auf einer MindMap entwirft und zusammenlaufen lässt. Da fehlt mir jegliche literarische Finesse bei so einem vollkonstruierten Buch. Die Figuren sind völlig eindimensional ohne jegliche Ambivalenzen. Die Guten sind enorm gut und die Bösen echt böse.

Aber am allermeisten störte mich der Umstand, dass gefühlt jeder zweite Satz auf einer Recherche basiert. Ken Follett gibt sich da sehr viel Mühe, seine zusammengetragenen Informationen auch ja im Plot zu platzieren. Dann entstehen Lexikon-Sätze wie:

„Bei der HJ zu sein war sogar noch besser, als Spiele der Hertha zu besuchen. Berlins beliebtester Fußballmannschaft.“
„Die SPD war eine Arbeiterpartei.“
„Der Reichspräsident war das Staatsoberhaupt, wie Carla wußte. Er wurde vom Volk gewählt, stand aber über der Tagespolitik. Der Mann, der in der Politik das Sagen hatte, war der Reichskanzler.“
Eine Engländerin fragt eine Deutsche (1933): „Was ist hier in Deutschland eigentlich los?“ „Mitte der Zwanzigerjahre war die Welt noch in Ordnung. Wir hatten eine demokratische Regierung und unsere Wirtschaft florierte. Dann kam aber der Börsencrash von 1929.“

Das sind Sätze wie aus einem „Was ist Was“-Sachbuch für Kinder. Hält der Autor seine Leserschaft für derart ungebildet? Die restlichen 900 Seiten ersparte ich mir.
Profile Image for Rosie.
321 reviews37 followers
April 24, 2019
Estou completamente envolvida na história e empolgada com o que ainda aí virá.

O horror da guerra.


Pensar que tantas pessoas terão sofrido as consequências da 1ª guerra, directa ou indirectamente, e poucos anos volvidos são novamente colhidos pela 2ª ... é mau demais. Depois de renascer das cinzas, voltar a viver tudo de novo com a agravante de uma situação muito mais perversa, ruim, opressiva, com requintes de malvadez, é de loucos.

Escritos sobre a Guerra e a Morte por Sigmund Freud
"... Derruba, com cega cólera, tudo o que lhe aparece pela frente, como se depois dela já não houvesse de existir nenhum futuro e nehuma paz entre os homens. Desfaz todos os laços da solidariedade entre os povos combatentes e ameaça deixar atrás de si uma exasperação que, durante longo tempo, impossibilitará o reatamento de tais laços."
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