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4.4 out of 5 stars83
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on 23 July 2007
One of the best books I have read. Prior to this I read his Bernard Sampson spy trilogies, this book references characters that are present in those books and fills in some interesting details. Overall a great book I found hard to put down!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 April 2015
I don't normally review back list books, but British author Len Deighton's novel "Winter" didn't catch my eye or interest til recently. The book was originally published in 1987, though it is set to be re-released in June, 2015. "Winter" is the epic novel of a Berlin family, beginning in 1899 and ending in 1945. The two main characters - around which the plot circles - are Peter and Paul Winter, brothers who seemingly take very different paths in life. But the brothers end the book together and their journeys are actually very similar.

Len Deighton's book can be compared to Herman Wouk's two epic novels - "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" - in that all three books try to cover a certain period of history and use many characters to do so. Wouk's novels are set in WW2, while Deighton's cover both world wars. Deighton views the period primarily from the German angle, though he does have a few British and American characters.

Peter and Paul Winter are the sons of a German industrialist father and an American mother. Harry Winter, the father, is a rather self-righteous rascal, who plays the stern father in Berlin while maintaining a mistress in Vienna. The girlfriend is sort of common-knowledge in the family though Harry's wife chooses to look the other way. Harry Winter raises his sons to love their country and to fight for it in the Great War. The boys' lives separate after their war years with Paul joining the burgeoning Nazi Party and Peter staying out of national politics. But politics are what the next 20 years is all about and as the Nazis gain power, Paul, trained as a lawyer, becomes one of those silent, faceless men whose knowledge of the law help make the illegal actions of the party and Third Reich...legal.

The Winter brothers are the main characters, but there are many others whose lives and actions touch the Winters'. Most of the characters are well-drawn and there are few caricatures in the bunch. If you're looking for a long, well-written novel about the first half of the 20th century, pick up "Winter". It's very good.
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on 13 December 2013
Cover 3.0 not the one in the Amazon picture. I am reading this because of a strong recommendation from a friend. Already I am finding it a pretty solid read with good ingredients as the characters are being built. I read on ...

24 12 13 My reading is progressing well having reached 1927 . Interesting context and ingredients. David Hughes the reviewer with his back page comment is spot on ... "The result is a glorious piece of literary engineering." In a similar way to Robert Harris's book on Pompeii one knows the end but not the details of the journey. I read on having raised the rating to four stars ....

31 12 13 Finished. I hesitate to say I enjoyed reading this book given the gruesome and often chilling background. Reflecting on the book I realise I certainly find reading books such as Winter as a reader of history interesting and absorbing. The canvas on which the book is painted is almost too large covering nearly 50 years, two wars and the rise and fall of Hitler and the Third Reich. The updating and progression of the story with snapshots by year worked very well for me. Although I have a preference to read about war in non fiction books, in many places Winter read as if it were a non fiction book. There are many characters and they are nearly all well enough developed to stay in mind as they keep going and then reappearing during the book. I would have given the book five stars, but for some disappointment over the ending. Usually in these situations I can write an alternative ending but for Winter I am at a loss to do so. I may well read again as I think I may have missed many connections in the story. Alexander of Allrighters' and Ywnwab!
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on 4 April 2013
I chose this book before visiting Berlin so that I could pick up the background history in an entertaining fashion. Len Deighton didn't disappoint, brilliantly drawing major historical events into his story and making the reader want to find out more. Who would have thought a Zeppelin could be so interesting? The characters were sympathetically portrayed and it was possible to empathise with almost all of them. There was a strong sense of what happens if you are born in the wrong place at the wrong time and of how circumstances out of your personal control shape your destiny. The ending remained a mystery almost to the last page. If you like family sagas, have an interest in WW1/WW2 history and/or Berlin, you'll love this!
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on 7 October 2015
Mr Deighton started off with the "Game, Set & Match trilogy) which concerns events in the Cold War era. Each book develops the characters and we learn more and more about them: their history, family and backgrounds. There is a second trilogy (Hook, Line & Sinker) follows by a third (Faith, Hope & Charity). Winter is best read as the fourth in the series. By then, we are getting to know Bernard and Werner and 'tante Lisl. This book quite brilliantly takes us through the history of the Winter family from 1900-1945 and we learn much more about characters who will appear in later years. Winter starts in Vienna at the turn of the new 20th century. A time of hope and expectation but with dark clouds never far away. The two principals whom we follow are Peter and his younger brother, Pauli. We get to discover how they make friends with a "rough" boy in north Germany and how his character develops and intertwines in the coming years. We see WW1 from a German perspective and find out what life was like when it ended. It starts to explain how post war Germany could fall under the influence of the Fuhrer and his evil henchmen, like Himmler. Through the troubled 330's to 1939 and the inevitable war. I won't spoil the book by specifying who did what and when and where but I just couldn't stop reading this story; it really is that compelling. Mr Deighton gives us lessons in Berlin German speak and lessons in history. For instance: the reparations demanded by a victorious Germany upon France at the end of the Franco-Prussian war 1870-1871 were far more severe than those imposed in the Versailles' Treaty in 1918. That Jews were not sent to camps if they worked as grave diggers in the Jewish cemetery in Berlin. There is much more fact entwined with the fiction of the principal story. If you are new to this series, read Winter as book 4; it will answer your initial questions on books 1-3 and put characters and events in perspective in the later two trilogies. It may surprise you to see that you root for some characters and wish only bad things on others. A top class book that is very highly recommended, especially if you like this genre. I can pretty much guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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on 28 September 2013
Historically based on fact and very plausible. Provides a good basis for the subsequent books, Game,Set and Match. It follows the history of Germany from the turn of the Certury to the immediate post WW2 period.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2016
Winter can be enjoyed as part of the Sampson series, or just as a standalone novel for anyone interested in a well crafted story set against a compelling historical background. As you'd expect from an author steeped in military and political history, Deighton's knowledge of German history between 1899 -1945 is second to none, but doesn't overwhelm the narrative and character led appeal of the book. When 'Winter' first appeared, I remember historian Norman Stone being impressed with the sheer rightness of Deighton's use of history, and re-reading this again now I can appreciate even more how well he tells of the rise of the Nazis and the development of the SS state.

Impressively,for such a dark and well used period of history, Deighton makes the motives and actions of his characters all too believable. There is no attempt to judge them, nor use hindsight to over-think some of the events, which adds to the sense of being caught up in the mood of the times. The fall of Berlin in 1945 is done particularly well. A highpoint of Deighton's writing, the Sampson series over-stayed its welcome in the latter volumes, but Winter shows how good Deighton is when he doesn't try to be over- clever, a criticism that can be levelled at much of his output.
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on 8 December 2015
A superb work of fiction written by a great writer at the top of his form. The main character is an unlikely hero, a member of the Gestapo and the Nazi party, but Len Deighton imbues him with bravery, humanity and at times charm as he survives first the trenches in the first world war and then the rising tide of madness as Hitlers Germany at first rises from the ashes and then finally comes crashing down again.
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on 21 March 2013
I've read lots of Len Deighton's books, most of them several times.

This is OK but doesn't quite achieve what I think he was hoping for. It's a sweeping family saga with some well drawn and interesting characters. It's all set against the backcloth of the rise of the third Reich and, for me, that's where the problems emerge. The real history nearly always feels a bit 'clunky' and force fitted into the scenes. Characters seem at times to give potted history lessons during conversations. It reminds me of the supposed line in a Hollywood historical script, 'To horse my liege, the Hundred Years War is about to begin.'

As ever with Deighton, the detail feels authentic and it is a compelling read. Not his best book about the War. I'd give that accolade to 'Bomber', which I'd recommend ahead of this.
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on 28 August 2013
Had been looking for this book for ages so was delighted to get for such a good price. While I have no sympathy for Nazis whatsoever, this book did give some insight as to how people could have been drawn into the regime and blinded by what was really happening. A very good read.
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