Friday, November 2, 2012

Page 56: Winter of the World

Winter of the World by Ken Follett is the second  book in his new Century Trilogy.  The first was Fall of Giants that followed several families in various countries from the pre-World War I era to the aftermath of the war.  Follett continues his genius of incorporating a large number of characters in an epic narrative that brings history down to the human level.  His characters include upper class  British, Welsh coal miners, German diplomats, Russian revolutionaries, American politicians and numerous other characters that populate both novels.

Winter of the World continues the narrative of the characters introduced in Fall of Giants including the next generation.  Follett writes about the rise of the Nazis in Germany and how it affected those that opposed Hitler as well as those who welcomed the violence, anti-semitism, and paganism with open arms.  The heady success of Hitler and his gang as portrayed in this book should  make any normal reader angry and disgusted with the Nazis and their excesses.  The brutality toward their fellow Germans and the banality of the evil embodied by Hitler and the Nazis is revealed through the experiences of the characters in this novel.

In addition to the Germans, events from the American, British, and Russian viewpoints are presented as well. Ken Follett has painted a broad and detailed landscape of this era.  The characters are real, they bring the era to life, and make history more real on the human level than most textbooks or academic papers could ever manage to accomplish.  So much happens in this second book, as did in the first, that you must pay attention as the plot speeds along from the 1930's to World War II and then into the post-war era.  This is more than just a novel, it is a learning experience.

Here is  a review from Amazon:

"Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, the first novel in his extraordinary new historical epic, The Century Trilogy, was an international sensation, acclaimed as “sweeping and fascinating, a book that will consume you for days or weeks” (USA Today) and “grippingly told and readable to the end” (The New York Times Book Review). “If the next two volumes are as lively and entertaining as Fall of Giants,” said The Washington Post, “they should be well worth waiting for.”

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.As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With passion and the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again."

If you have never read a novel by Ken Follett you are in for a great reading experience with the first two books of the Century Trilogy.

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