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4.4 out of 5 stars83
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2005
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. It traces the history of a German family in Berlin from the turn of the century (1900) to the very early post war years. It takes in both WW1 and WW2. In my opinion what makes this book so good is the way that it helps to illustrate what it was that made so many German people support the two wars.
If you have an interest in the history and causes of WW2 then this book would be an excellent addition to your collection. It is well researched and also very well written, which is why I give it 5 stars.
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on 29 March 2001
I read this book in the German translation 'Treu und Glauben'. It is a fascinating story. It is fiction, yet it is full of historic facts. As a person who has lived part of his life during the period in question, I was truly overwhelmed.
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on 18 August 2006
In his biggest and most ambitious book so far, Len Deighton draws a vivid picture of life in Nazi Germany and uses an upper middle-class family to provide a remarkable inside view of the Hitler regime, and of the muddle and madness that led up to it.

As church bells triumphantly ring in the new century, Veronica Winter -- an American by birth, upbringing, and instinct -- bears her German husband a second son. This boy Paul and his brother Peter are the central characters in a complex and tragic family drama, which begins with an enchanted childhood and ends in the courtrooms of Nuremberg.

Veronica Winter watches her sons suffer all the horrors of the First World War, and the bitter and bizarre street fighting between old comrades in `peacetime Berlin', but she holds her German family together through Berlin's Golden Twenties, when its brittle, talented, permissive society shocked the world, and inflation made German money worthless. Communists and Nazis battled in the dangerous dark streets, and more and more men turned to Hitler as the only hope for a nation plagued by unendurable violence and depravity.
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on 2 October 2007
Based on the trials and tribulations of the Winter family, this novel covers the years 1900 through 1945. It also serves as a loose back drop to the Bernard Sampson series. Anyone who enjoys Deighton's sparse, clean prose, his adherence to historical details, and international intrigue will find this an enjoyable book.

The novel chronicles the lives of two Berlin brothers -Pauli and Peter Winter. The book also details the city of Berlin, and how it changed from the Biedermier Era through the decadent twenties, and eventually its destruction in 1945. Peter and Paul Winter, thier family and friends represent the conflicting social strands of Germany, which produced both Bach and Himmler. To add to the plotline, the Winter brothers mother hails from a wealthy American family, whose democratic-capitalistic ideals clash with the fin-de-siecle Berlin. This clash, while mild early on, becomes central as the plot thickens. Deighton throws in all the usual dramatic devices to keep the story moving. The reader is confronted with adultery, murder, chauvanism, racism, greed, and decadance, as well as loyalty, chilvary, and love.

Deighton, has an obvious love for Berlin and European history; he stays true to the social, political, and cultural battles which doomed Berlin to half century of conflcit. This conflict is well told through the Winter family. For those who've read the Sampson novels, they will also see cameo appearances of many minor characters who crop up during the life of Bernard Sampson. This novel will not disappoint.
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on 7 November 2001
This is probably Deighton's very finest novels. telling the story of a berlin family through the troubled times of the 20th century and the introduction of Facism into europe. Compelling to read and exciting throughout. Anyone who still wonderes why the german people turned to the nazis in there millions will find the answer in these pages.
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on 30 July 2009
Winter is not on the scale of Tolstoy's War and Peace, but the formula is clearly there. Families, individuals, heroes, heroines all interacting with a turbulent historic environment.

The historic details are particularly fascinating, the attention to detail was compelling especially life on board a Zeppellin, I wanted to know more about this most fascinating aircraft. The trench warfare was also described in extremely gory detail that you could you almost smell the cordite, urine, faeces and decaying bodies. Also was amazed by the description of Nazi Germany's invasion of Austria, a General of the Panzer expressed his exasperation at having to invade the country with "tin boxes" with inferior engines rather than with tanks. The fuel for the said invasion had to be literally stolen, if necessary at gunpoint, from filling stations en route.

The Winter Family is the focus; the focus homes in on Pauli, who works as a lawyer for the Nazi Party. He is battle hardened, embittered and even twisted to the degree that he makes secretive displays of his humanity, a sort of Schindler (of Schindler's List fame). He takes some really big risks and makes some huge compromises to salvage any aspect, of his family that is under threat. At the same time, he looks for ways and means of letting the Nazi Party off the hook in terms of it contravening the post-Versailles constitution.

If you like War and Peace, Twentieth Century History, you would certainly like this. A great introduction to the work of Len Deighton.
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on 4 September 2000
Len Deighton always was above your average thriller writer and books such as Bomber showed him to be much more than a writer of throw away spy stories. Winter is German family history covering the first half of the 20th century and shows how the turbulent times including two World Wars affect a properous family of industrialists. The latter part of the book, post WWII, introduces some characters who appear in other Deighton novels. If you enjoyed the Game Set & Match trilogy you will find this interesting.
You can't help feeling than Deighton is paying homage to Thomas Mann's Budenbrooks and, whilst he is not Mann, Winter is a fine novel indeed and will be read long after his spy stories which, like those of other writers, have been overtaken by the collapse of the Soviet and other Eastern European regimes.
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on 31 August 2011
A masterpiece from Deighton covering the life and times of a family deeply involved in the nuts and bolts of the third reich. A genuine unputdownable book that simply ended far too quickly. Perhaps I expected too much after such a detailed and credible build up through the pre hitlerite years. Perhaps there was a word limit imposed on the author? - heaven forbid. Despite being disappointed in the finished article, I still recommend this book.
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on 29 March 1999
'Winter' is a novel in its own right, a family saga and an allegory of German history through the first half of the 20th century. It is also the lynch pin of the 'Samson' trilogy of trilogies (i.e. 9 related books), where you delight in picking out characters from the 'surrounding' stories. It is, in my opinion, a tour de force for Deighton who has already broken the mould of spy stories with his anonymous, ordinary hero of 'The Ipcress File' in the 60s.
The use of such credible characters and their reaction to the First World War combine to show the inevitable fall into the Second - and beyond, into the Cold War and the Samson tales.
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on 2 March 2014
Even if you may better appreciate `Winter' by having already read some of the excellent Bernard Samson novels, this book succeeds in its own right as quite a splendid family saga; becoming an outstanding prequel to the Samson books.
It reveals the organic nature of a Germany that mutated from the high imperial ideals of 1899 to the tragic nadir of 1945. Essentially, it covers the lives of two brothers, Peter & Pauli Winter - who are born into a privileged Anglo-Teutonic family - the father being an autocratic German industrialist and the mother an idealistic American. Between them the two boys come to symbolise successively the noble, blameless, flawed and immoral lives of all who centre on this turbulent stage of human, political and military flux. Their devotion to each other remains constant despite the chaos of events and circumstance. Len Deighton colours these changing scenes and epochs with the keen eye of a diarist. You almost feel as though you were there; through an epic storyline that begins with the imperial aspirations of the Kaiser and Count Zeppelin's airships to the despair of Hitler's bunker and a ruined Third Reich. His characters are well-researched, superbly-drawn and shaded to life so very realistically. It was probably asking a lot to cover as much historical territory in one book - indeed I feel that two books might have rewarded both author and reader, especially for character development and enrichment, but this does not detract from the book's overwhelming satisfaction - as I have found it to be a novel that can be read and read again. The rather clever, but subtle two-brother storyline permits an exploration of the human heart and soul against the backdrop of changing moral standards, scientific development, political flux and the vast moral dilemma of a patriotism and nationalistic zeal that seems always to be vying with the love of family, country and perceived honour. The understated genius of this novel is that it helps to make sense of the apparent human contradiction that ordinary people living ordinary lives could never participate meaningfully within seemingly relentless and grotesquely inhuman events. Len Deighton here shows that this is just not so. Read, enjoy, and then possibly reflect a while upon an extremely commendable novel.
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