2021 & 2022 Reading Challenge discussion

Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)
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ARCHIVE 2014 > Winter of the World by Ken Follett

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message 1: by ZaraS (new) - added it

ZaraS  *book reviewer | 2365 comments This thread is to discuss Ken Follett's book, Winter of the World.

***Please remember to mark spoilers.***

Adam, Lynn, Lilac

message 2: by Lynn (last edited Aug 02, 2014 04:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments Hope to start reading on Saturday. Looking forward to the discussion.

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments Great, I'll plan on starting Saturday as well. I thought it might be challenging for me remember which kids belong to which family, so I found this cast of characters to help. I used one of these for the last book too & it was very helpful, especially at the beginning.


Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments You're not kidding Adam! I needed your link for the first sentence of the first chapter....and that was just after I read the Cast of Characters. Lots of new people!

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments Chapter 1 -- I think this is the first time I really understood the political strategies the Nazis used to get elected officials to vote themselves out of power. I always thought they just seized control of Germany from the Parliament with the Brownshirts. I was surprised that they were so strategic and semi-legal. Maybe it was Hitler's 2.5 hour speech that just wore them down. Even though I've read several novels and memoirs concerning WWII in the past year, reading about the atrocities (section vii) hasn't gotten easier.

message 6: by Adam (last edited Aug 03, 2014 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments Chapter 1:
So far, my knowledge of WWII is limited mostly to movies & documentaries I've seen so I don't know much about how Hitler & the Nazis were so feared early on. I'm assuming things got violent & brutal from the beginning. It seems in the book that Maud & Walter already knew something really bad was already happening or about to happen, and the incident at the magazine office really confirms their fears. I really like the sense of foreboding already taking place in the first chapter, but I cringe at what they have to look forward to,not to mention how this is probably going to divide up their family as their son Erik already seems to be sympathizing with the Nazis.

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments I don't think working people generally feared them early on.....too busy surviving. As for voting for Nazi party candidates, I expect a lot of people just wanted relief from unemployment, inflation, food shortages, and the brutal terms of the Versailles Treaty. They weren't experienced voters. I expect that more sophisticated people might have thought Hitler ridiculous, but who knows. Germany went from monarchy to democracy to fascism in less than 15 years, so the cautious person who just wants to wait and see, was blown away I'm sure.

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments I'm about halfway through now. Maybe it's just the dread of Nazis, but I'm not enjoying this book as much as the first.

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments *Chapter 1 Spoiler*

It is a really sad book, and I only just got to the part where Jörg was mauled by dogs. I'm almost wishing I could go back in time to fight those Nazis myself. But since I can't, I'm trying to take satisfaction in the few good punches that Lloyd got in to some of the brown shirts.

message 10: by Lynn (last edited Aug 05, 2014 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments Lloyd is pretty wonderful isn't he?

message 11: by Lynn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments I'm closing in on the end of the book. I'm struck by the cruelty in some of the characters in this book as compared to Fall of Giants. Follett offers a balanced treatment, since every country's sadism is shown. All the countries' leaders are ruthless in their efforts to win the war. I don't think a WWI Christmas Truce in no-mans-land would have ever been possible in this war. I wonder if the author is trying to convey a message about people in general as the century progresses?

message 12: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments There seems to be more pure evil in this war compared to the respect some people still had for their enemies in WWI. I'm only about a quarter way though. I can tell there's going to be a good story pretty soon between Lloyd & his half brother Boy. And I had no idea there were groups in other countries like Britain who were also pushing for fascism at this same time. Crazy!

Someone had also told me that the Christmas Truce was greatly exaggerated. They had heard it on Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story." After the initial truce, both sides had used the truce to trick the other side into coming into no man's land & slaughtering them. I'm finding conflicting stories on the internet for both sides, but it sounds more plausible that it wasn't as peaceful as some make it seem.

message 13: by Lynn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments I've read about the British Fascists in other books. The Remains of the Day and A Lesson in Secrets had Oswald Mosley in them. I also read an alternate history novels by Jo Walton (Farthing) that imagined Britain allied with Germany through appeasement. I know there is another book called Fatherland about Nazi Britain. Maybe it could have gone either way....anyway writers love to speculate. I think the war and Europe could have turned out very differently if Hitler hadn't been so crazy.

I'm sad to hear that the WWI Christmas Truce has been exaggerated/romanticized.

message 14: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments I'm over halfway through right now. Once the war started I've been hanging on every word of each character's story. I'm frustrated with how the Russian leaders have no regard for human life, and simply throw their soldiers at the enemy with no ammunition or hope of survival, shooting those that ran back. At least there was a little payback with the one commander tried to leave Moscow, but met with the mob instead.

I think you can feel more of the pain of war from this book than in the 1st, because in this one there are actually main characters who die. There has been tragedy upon tragedy, but also people's true colors come out in the war, and they find out who they really are.

For example Erik, witnessing the murder of Russian civilians in the pit, realizing that his father was right all along. I don't know what I would have done in his position. How could you fake allegiance after seeing such a thing to avoid being shot yourself?

I'm in the middle of the Pearl Harbor bombing right now. Very tragic. Although the book doesn't mention this, I have heard about how the US knew the attack was coming and allowed it to happen so that they could enter the war without going against public opinion. I'd like to read more about that to see how much truth there is to that claim.

This seems like so much more of a world war than WWI. I hope that we've progressed enough to never have such a war again.

message 15: by Lynn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments Adam wrote: "I'm over halfway through right now. Once the war started I've been hanging on every word of each character's story. I'm frustrated with how the Russian leaders have no regard for human life, and ..."

The Spanish Civil War was a surprise for me. I know that Hemingway wrote about it, but I might have faked my way through that book. I don't think any teacher ever explained how close Europe came to being completely fascist.

I love how Follett makes us feel empathy for characters on all sides....not all characters obviously, but all ideologies.

message 16: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments For some reason I always thought the atomic bomb was dropped shortly before the German surrender, not after. Boy was I wrong. I haven't gotten to the part of the bomb dropping yet, but I'm about to, and I wonder what the reasoning is going to be behind it.

And I'm shocked that they first tested it in downtown Chicago! What were they thinking?!?

message 17: by Lynn (last edited Aug 15, 2014 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn (lmelliott) | 686 comments I loved History in school. I was inspired by a great teacher who was able to spark my interest and made me want to learn more. In school, I did learn a lot about the dark side to our history (the rumors that FDR knew the attack was coming to Hawaii in 1941, the ruthless way the Allies bombed German civilian areas--same as the London Blitz, the devastation in Japan), but there were some shockers in this book nonetheless.

I was horrified about the bomb development in Chicago....I can understand how it happened since they were academics testing theory in wartime.....but it was callous as hell. (view spoiler) Is the idea of government protecting it's people a relatively new concept, or have they just gotten more careful since people sue them more now? Are they more careful now? Doubt it somehow if they think it unlikely they'll be caught.

I'm sure I had to learn who bore the brunt of the casualties in Europe, but maybe because of the Cold War or who wrote the textbook, the Russian sacrifices were glossed over. Nobody suffered losses like they did....no wonder they wanted a buffer zone between them and Western Europe!

Donna Possible spoiler: I just finished this book. I may gave missed this - but what side of the Berlin Wall did Carla, Maud, Werner, et al end up on? Thank you so much in advance for your help!

message 19: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Rodgers | 153 comments I don't think the wall was built yet in this book. But that's going to be one of the major themes in the next book.

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