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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear insight I nto,WW2
This book in typical Follett style brings the characters and the events to life. The horrors of life under the Nazis are described through the lives of people like Carla, Maud, Ada and others, including young men carried away by the excitement of arrest and torture of innocent. I times when they were not mature enough to realise whatthey were encouraging. Other stories...
Published 15 months ago by Granny Gwen

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Janet and John meets Ken
Adolf makes war! Adolf is a bad man! American sees Adolf. American chases Adolf - hoorah!

Fifty years ago, a series of reading books for young children featuring the characters Janet and John were popular in the UK. Featuring short, basic sentences they now look very anachronistic and simplistic. In fact, they looked like that pretty much the moment they came...
Published 21 months ago by NicksOpinion


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear insight I nto,WW2, 21 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
This book in typical Follett style brings the characters and the events to life. The horrors of life under the Nazis are described through the lives of people like Carla, Maud, Ada and others, including young men carried away by the excitement of arrest and torture of innocent. I times when they were not mature enough to realise whatthey were encouraging. Other stories are vividly told; the loves,the laughter, the fears, anxieties are told with deep feeling and make an impact on the reader such Remains long after the last page is turned.

Some descriptions of military campaigns could be beyond readers such as myself but what makes the compelling reading because at least one character who we have met and liked or even loved is there on the front line and suffering as a PERSON with a name, a background and a plan for a future - sometimes denied him because the battle or the campaign took his life. I loved both books 1 and 2 of this trilogy and can't wait to read book 3 which I know will also absorb me from start to finish. Ken Follett writes so diversely his novels will suit a range of readers but I enjoy them all, whatever the genre.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining And Informative!, 18 Oct. 2012
By 
bobbewig (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
Winter Of The World is the second mammoth-size work of historical fiction in Ken Follett's The Century Trilogy that kept me very engrossed. Winter Of The World follows the lives of five main characters, each the child of the five families featured in Fall Of Giants, as they move through events beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of WWII, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.

Follett's characters are developed well enough and his narrative abilities are strong enough to enable me to feel that that I was right along side each of the main characters as they move through the major events in their lives. I recommend Winter Of The World to those who enjoy historical fiction and think they would enjoy traveling with Follett's characters as they move through the years that were filled with social, political and emotional turmoil.

Is Winter Of The World a perfect book? Of course not; it has its share of limitations. For example, Follett's dialogue, at times, does not ring true and the historical situations in which he involves his characters often appear to be too coincidental and expected. These limitations, however, are mostly outweighed by the excellent job Follett does in pacing his book and in creating a "you are there" atmosphere for the reader.

I'm pretty sure you'll find Winter Of The World to be a very entertaining, well-researched and memorable book. But be aware that your enjoyment won't come cheap -- the retail price of Winter Of The World is $36 in hardcover and $19.99 electronically. I think, however, you'll find that it is worth the money and your time investment.
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206 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Ken Follett, 13 Sept. 2012
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Ken Follett's new novel, "Winter of the World", is the second in the planned three volume set about the history of the 20th century. Beginning in 1933, Follett brings his huge cast of characters along from the years up to the end of the Great War. To talk about the plot of the new book is impossible. Way too many characters and too many plot points. BUT, Follett's such a good writer that he brings the reader up to date with ALL his characters. Follett gives most of his characters enough nuance that few seem like caricatures.

The interesting thing about Follett's second book is the breadth of the coverage of the 1930's and 40's (and into the `50's). Everything from the burning of the Reichstag to the T4 Euthanesia program under the Nazis, to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the battle of Midway to the development of the atomic bomb is covered. Now, in a regular novel, the reader would think, "oh yeah, how can one character or family of characters be present at all these historic events?" But Follett has developed so many characters that what happens is not unlikely. His characters seem to merge with each other and then separate much like the designs in a kaleidoscope. The American heiress from the Russian-emigree father goes to England in the mid-1930's and marries the son(s) of members the British/Welsh nobility. The German characters interact with both the British and the Russians. All these families had been introduced in Follett's first book and all interacted in Follett's second.

Something else interesting I noticed from Follett's first book and his second is the fact that none of the major characters in the first book died. They had to survive to make the second book possible. Now in the second book, several of the main characters do die, which, given the war setting, is a bit more believable.

Also, and this is important. Follett doesn't do a lot of reintroducing characters, their relationships, and plot points from the first book to the second. I guess he just assumes most readers have read the first book and so know the characters of the second. As a result, there's little awkwardness to his writing and the second book flows pretty naturally.

A question a new reader might ask is if he should read the first book,"Fall of the Giants" before "Winter of the World"? This second book could be a stand-alone novel. Follett sets an ambitious course with his proposed three volume set. So far, with the first and second books, he's done quite well.

I don't normally write such short reviews but there's no way to talk about the plot except to say Follett is a master. And if you don't like the book, you can always use it as a door stop. It is a large volume, containing a great story. Enjoy.
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86 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Gets Better., 14 Sept. 2012
I don't know what it is about Ken Follett, but his books just get better and better. Fall of Giants the prequel to Winter of The World was simply fantastic with, as usual, something happening on every page.
How he does it, I don't quite know, but even when he writes about casual goings on, it still reads like a "what's going to happen" type of read.
Winter of The World is another biggie at 818 pages but the story is so complex and enthralling that you're going to wish it would go past so many pages.
This is the continuing story of five different families (from the Fall of Giants) going through the middle of the twentieth century, 1933 to 1949 which of course would include mainly the Second World War. It's a page turner with Follett's usual mastery story telling. All the plots in the book are written so well together and in such a way that we are educated as well as entertained. And, as with all Ken Follett's books, there are no boring pages anywhere! Not one!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Janet and John meets Ken, 28 May 2013
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This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
Adolf makes war! Adolf is a bad man! American sees Adolf. American chases Adolf - hoorah!

Fifty years ago, a series of reading books for young children featuring the characters Janet and John were popular in the UK. Featuring short, basic sentences they now look very anachronistic and simplistic. In fact, they looked like that pretty much the moment they came off the printing presses. But they were widely read and presumably made someone a lot of money. I'm afraid that Ken Follett's "Winter of the World" is very much in the same mould.

"Winter of the World" is the second instalment of Follett's Century trilogy, a selective lightweight history of the twentieth century. You may have heard the claim that each of us is only six contacts away from every other human being on the planet, as in: I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows a Russian billionaire or Kalahari bushman or whoever. Follett's variant is that five vaguely inter-related families (from Germany, England, Wales, Russia and the United States) are not just witnesses to the key events of the last century but participate in them and in many cases make them happen. This part of the trilogy covers the 1930's and 1940's, meaning the rise of Fascism, World War 2 and its immediate aftermath. So... Hitler gaining power, Battle of Cable Street, Pearl Harbour, siege of Moscow, first atomic bomb,etc... take your pick, one of the group of five was there.

In terms of literature, this falls into the "quantity not quality" category. The impression is that it was written with a TV mini-series not just in mind, but specifically for it. One for an undemanding American audience, broken down into 5 minute segments so as not to confuse people or interfere with the adverts. Everything American in it is wonderful, everything English, German or Russian is denigrated ("Gee Ken, you've written it just the way we like it here in Hollywood!"). Everything Welsh is wonderful, too (the main hero is Welsh, as is Follett himself of course). Follett's politics come through more strongly than in previous works - this is very much of an uncritical ode to the Labour government of 1945. It also has a modern feel to it, with homosexual, multi-racial and unmarried couples. However, the attitudes to them are very much those of the present day rather than those of 70-odd years ago, in much the same way as period BBC television dramas tend to feature characters from the present who've simply been transported back in time.

I've been a great fan of Follett and have spread the word by giving copies of his books to friends and relatives. But I fear he has lost the plot with this instalment and have grave fears for the final one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent read at first but...., 20 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
The century trilogy is a brilliant idea, and the first book `Fall of Giants' is a good read, the second (Winter of the World) is also pretty good but when it comes to the third, (Edge of Eternity) it is wearing very thin, with a pretty formulaic approach to the story. Dealing with world events through the experiences of ordinary people is one thing but by the time you get to the third volume one gets the impression of reading the artificially constructed lives of minor but active players in the big geopolitical events of the second half of the 20th century. Descriptions of the sexual interactions between characters becomes quite frankly boring halfway through volume 2, and by the time you get to volume 3 their only value is to enable `speed-reading', i.e. skipping through them to get to the next interesting bit! (one Amazon reviewer complained that the whole trilogy was `smut'). The whole trilogy was a decent `holiday read' but not a patch on the author's `Pillars of the Earth' /'World Without End' mediaeval stories. Whilst it follows a similar formula unfortunately some events (particularly in the third volume) are sufficiently in living memory of potential readers for it not to work as convincingly. Good exposition of the struggle against all kinds of oppression in the first half of the 20th Century, and after WW2 on both sides of the iron curtain, but the credibility of the whole thing collapsed in volume 3 due to the complete absence of any reference to Thatcher's Britain (ironic, given the first volume's dependence on the exposition of the conflicts between mineowners and miners in the years before and after WW1) and the collapse of the narrative into a clumsy 'West Wing' storyline which is quite pedestrian and even facile in its presentation of the black American Civil Rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis, and the events in Europe leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Decent `holiday' reading, and I will check out his other works, but I am sorry cannot be enthusiastic about this trilogy either as a literary work or as an interpretation of history. Decent holiday read, but disappointing form Ken Follet!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, 24 Feb. 2014
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
In ‘Winter of the World’, Ken Follett continues his triology of novels following several families throughout the major events of the twentieth century. The story picks up in 1933 and opens strongly with a depiction of the rise of Nazism in Germany. Once again, the principal characters are the younger generation of the families, mostly aged around 18-20 at the start of the novel. These are the children of the protagonists in the first book, who also feature in their own right. You should definitely read the preceding novel (‘Fall of Giants’) before starting this one.

As always with Follett, you get a solid, entertaining story that is easy to read and holds the attention. It’s true that the prose has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer but I prefer that to an overly literary, pretentious style. There is nothing particularly beautiful or charming about his writing and he has an annoying habit of pointing out the blooming obvious, whilst his plot relies heavily on coincidence and sees his characters at the centre of every major political event of the times. But it’s fun all the same.

As in the first novel, there’s a strong – perhaps over-strong – left wing bias and an almost laughable tendency for the characters to be at the front line of significant political events. The rich characters are generally ‘baddies’ whilst the working class are staunchly heroic. The characters are generally likeable enough, despite many being remarkably similar to those in the prequel, and indeed in Follett’s other novels.

It’s a good primer on the history of the Second World War, and as with the first novel I think this would be a great read for teenagers learning about that period, as a much more entertaining way of finding out about some of this. The abuses of power in both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are chillingly well depicted and Follett doesn’t pull punches in his descriptions of the horror of war. You have to admire the scope of the novel as well – not many authors would attempt to give such a global portrayal of a conflict within one (admittedly long) book. At times you can go a hundred pages or more between reading about a particular set of characters, but Follett has the ability to keep the reader interested in whatever he puts on the page, so the transitions are painless.

It’s easy to pick holes in the book, especially when looking back in retrospect, and it’s not particularly memorable or moving. But I enjoyed reading it and looked forward to the next few chapters in the evening, so for me, that’s a success. Readers who strongly prefer literary novels might not enjoy it, but if you enjoy a good yarn and can happily suspend your disbelief for a while, then give it a go. It’s good holiday reading – provided you take the e-book version given the suitcase busting length!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, 17 Aug. 2013
I don't usually read fiction but this book was a gift and so I felt obliged to read it, I wish that I hadn't bothered. There used to be a comedy programme years ago called 'Chance in a Million' about a man whose life was ruled by the most unlikely coincidences imaginable. This book was like the programme. There were numerous incredible coincidences and so many narrow escapes that I sometimes laughed out loud. The main characters always get out of the most dangerous situations and it is often fairly easy to work out how they are going to do it.
E.g. two characters (who knows who now!) getting rid of the body of a nasty German officer in war torn Germany and happening upon a road accident - just drop him near the 'pile up' - Wow that was easy.
It is also a very complex plot involving too many characters and, if you leave off reading for a few days it becomes hard to recall who is who and which country you are now in.
The sex is described in quite unnecessary detail except when it comes to the stock gays whose 'doings' remain (thankfully) a mystery though it does not seem very PC to omit these when such detail is given to the hetero-sex. There is a cliche character who is the boss of the two gays and treats them very badly, calling them all sorts of unpleasant names and (GUESS WHAT!) he turns out to be a closet gay (noooo!!!), how original.
My recommendation - Don't bother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Irritating follettisms, 24 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
I have read a lot of reviews about Ken Follett's excessive input of his research (I've researched this so it's going in the book; don't care if it's dull) and his pedestrian storytelling style. However he displayed, in both the books so far, two things which irritated me but were obviously intended to please lazy American readers held fast in their own culture. The first was his overexplaining of simple British terms which don't require it. The two examples that come to mind are "...the glass balls that children call marbles..." and "...the butcher's fat called dripping...".
The second persistent irritant was the use of American language (not just within dialogue) in a British author's book: sidewalk, Fall, union jack flag, suspenders, math, gasoline, pickaxe (at least he put a final e on that one), soccer, diaper, tuxedo, tub, drapes, gearshift, undershirt, airplane, elevator, morgue, trunk, stoop, liquor, cane, blocks, stood in line, flashlight. I may have missed some others. When did you ever read an American author who pandered this much to other cultures?. Done for commercial reasons no doubt and possibly influenced by his publisher. However it is never good to irritate your customers, whatever business you are in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So much potential, 16 Feb. 2014
I really really wanted to love this book but i just couldn't. The story itself is great and I quite like the characters, two dimensional though they may be. My main problem is still the writing style, which i must admit i find quite annoying at times (every thought a character has doesn't have to be simplified. Credit your readers with at least a little bit of intelligence Ken!). I found the chapter on Spain quite annoying also as having grown up knowing quite a few members of the International Brigade, I know they weren't anywhere near as under the thumb of Stalin as the book suggests i.e. random executions of British IB members by an evil Russian officer ( I think there was only ever 1 British member executed, and even thats in doubt). Having said all that, i kept going with the book as i really did find the plot and characters interesting enough to stop me putting it down however, having a great interest in that time period may have influenced me. All in all, if your looking for something to challenge you or make you think, find something else but if your going on a long trip or down to the beach and need to pass the time, probably worth a go.
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