Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy

by Ken Follett

Hardcover, 2012



This novel continues the stories of five interrelated families who struggle with social, political, and economic turmoil in the mid-twentieth century, during which they witness the rise of Nazi Germany, the Spanish Civil War, and the horrors of World War II. It picks up right where the first book left off, and continues 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.… (more)


(1059 ratings; 4)

Media reviews

Nacht van het kwaad kent veel van de succeselementen die de vorige boeken van Follett kenmerkten: actie, romantiek, geweld (vrijwel altijd kort maar hevig), dreiging, sterke vrouwen, ingenieuze intriges, personages die de oorlog en alle verschrikkingen invoelbaar maken, wereldschokkende
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gebeurtenissen gekoppeld aan het verdriet of geluk van kleine mensen en een degelijke historische basis. En ook nu hebben ze een overweldigend effect. Ken Follett neemt de lezer mee van grote landhuizen naar het Witte Huis, de slagvelden in Europa en de Stille Oceaan om ons, via zijn fictieve en historische personages, de ultieme geschiedenisles te geven die de middelbare school ons heeft onthouden. Het is knap hoe Follett de ongelooflijk complexe gebeurtenissen heeft weten te comprimeren tot een volstrekt begrijpelijk geheel. Dat alles in eenvoudige taal, met intelligente, spannende verhaallijnen en verrassende plotwendingen. Infotainment op zijn best. Gelukkig wacht ons nog een laatste boek. Hierin worden de periode na WO II en de Koude Oorlog beschreven. Verplichte literatuur voor de liefhebber!
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4 more
"He fills his pages with fascinating characters and then uses the great events of this time to make an exciting plot."
"The result, as in “Fall of Giants,” is an honorable piece of popular entertainment and a consistently compelling portrait of a world in crisis."
"It makes the biggest tectonic shifts of its era — the struggle between Communism and Fascism, the irreversible march of science toward nuclear weapons, the laying of groundwork for the coming cold war — feel momentous indeed."
Ken Follett continúa la apasionante historia de las cinco familias europeas que nos cautivaron con La caída de los gigantes. En esta ocasión, son los hijos de los protagonistas de la entrega anterior los que, a través de sus luchas personales, políticas y militares, nos muestran la historia de
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unos años que cambiaron el mundo para siempre. De la mano de los Williams, los Fitzherbert, los Peshkov, los Von Ulrich y los Dewar, emprendemos un apasionante viaje a través de los acontecimientos que marcaron sus vidas y las de un mundo que se desmorona, desde el ascenso del Partido Nazi al poder en 1933, auténtico preludio de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, hasta el inicio de la Guerra Fría en 1949.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member repb
I hope he gets paid by the word. An interesting history lesson for one thing; and I'll give him credit for persistence. Overall I enjoyed the book and stuck with it through the end. However, as with all Follett's stories, I find snippets of trash scattered here and there ... almost as if he inserts
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them for shock value. I find them completely unnecessary and unwelcome.
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LibraryThing member MichaelHodges
Review: Winter of the World by Ken Follett……………..24 May 2013

This book is the second of a Trilogy of the 20th century. At 940 pages this book is a weighty tomb that primarily covers the exciting Second World War period.

As a wannabe history buff, and having read many Follett books that I
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always enjoyed and admired I unfortunately quickly tired on this one. The preceding book based around the First World War called “Fall of Giants” I had greatly enjoyed, see my review of same. Moreover Follett is a great story maker as can be verified if one reads any of his 20 or so spy thrillers. The historical research of the time lapse has always sated my interest. Follett generally employs a New York research group that I believe adds a great dimension to so many of Follett’s great books.

However this particular book I thought was somewhat light on history and long on character embellishments. In short this book in my view was more of a “soap-opera”, long on soap and short on opera! In other words this book was too involved in the sexual antics of the fictional characters at the expense of more extensive historical setting details.

The history that did appear in the book’s timeline was excellent but left one wanting so much more. This book, in common to the first book in the sequence, involved over approximately 100 characters. The years covered span 1933 to 1950. The timeline is readily followed as each chapter represents a given year and with certain years appropriately sub-divided into sequential parts, such as 1944 and other busy war years.

Towards the final chapters more history than soap is covered and so towards the close of this book I started again to enjoy the history. For instance the UK General Election of July 1945 begins to have some historical detail of great interest. I particularly appreciated the party membership break-outs which included one seat won by the Communist party in the London district of Stepney! However we Brits are also interested in the swing vote tallies (percentage change between elections).
The final chapters set up the scenario for the final trilogy volume covering the main life-line feature of anyone currently over age 50, namely the Cold War. The start of the atomic era is included with a great overview concerning the politics of that era and the ensuing Cold War that was the most significant outcome of the Second World War
OK, maybe I have warmed-up to this soap and might therefore read Follett’s final sequel after all!
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
This sequel to Fall of Giants begins with Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and runs through the increasingly grim pre-war years, the Second World War itself and the early years of the Cold War, ending in 1949 with the ending of the Berlin airlift and the first Soviet atomic bomb test. This obviously
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gives colossal scope for dramatic incident and a lot of the key events take place in summary form after the event as mini-historical essays before picking up one of the plot strands. This is not too overdone for the most part, though I thought the section recounting the events of the war in the Pacific was a bit too long. It is always good to pick up the lives of the characters in Fall and those of the next generation, and we have the same mixed cast here, with the author's sympathies being pretty clear. Some of the characters are perhaps a bit one dimensional and I thought those best handled were the German ones, with the agonising choices and dilemmas they had to face under the Nazis. Much of the same horror for the Soviet characters was also covered, though the purges of 1936-38 didn't really feature. Follett is not afraid to kill off likeable characters whom we have come to know and respect and there are a number of such cases here, such as Walter von Ulrich and Chuck Dewar. All in all, a very good read indeed, if not quite up to the standards of Fall of Giants and the inevitably relentless grimness and horror did get demoralising to read through at times. 4.5/5
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LibraryThing member melparish
I really enjoyed the first book and was looking forward to this one, but somehow it did not quite live up to expectations. I found it hard to have any empathy for any of the characters even though many of them were the same characters from the first book. Events that should have been tense and
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emotional seemed to be portrayed in a matter of fact way. I did finish the book but sadly can't say that I'm excited about the idea of the next one.
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LibraryThing member RobGodfrey
I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy more, but it is a good read and a page-turner.

With so many characters so widely scattered across the globe it's a tough ask to make each scenario as interesting as the next and I don't think he quite pulls it off (he got away with it perhaps in the first
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book because of the novelty of it).

I'm not looking forward so much to the third as I was for the second - but I may end of reading it anyhow.
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LibraryThing member simplicity99
This is the one and only book I have ever pre-ordered. One of my all time favorite novels was Pillars of the Earth, which I read many years before Oprah, and I felt lost that I had to wait a year for the 2nd part of this trilogy. Alas, I was disappointed. The coincidence of all these characters
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from the 1st book finding and connecting with the next generation in this book was a tad bit too far fetched for me. I also felt, at one point in the book, that every political and social position had to be hung on a flag, justified or had it's token character displayed for review and consideration. It made the story feel forced to me in some spots. There was so much history from so many corners of the world being forced into the story that it was impossible to do it without compromising either history or character development. I will read book 3 but probably won't pre-order and I don't feel as anxious for it as I did this one.
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LibraryThing member mojomomma
I didn't like this one quite as well as the first volume. Having one of our two dozen characters at every major event in the 1930's and 1940's started to get a little tedious--Pearl Harbor, check; Los Alamos, check; Berlin, check; London during the Blitz, check, Moscow, check. Really?!? If you can
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suspend disbelief its a pretty entertaining read.
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LibraryThing member speedy74
Winter of the World, the second of three books by Follett retelling the events of the western world in the 20th century, picks up where Fall of Giants leaves the world after the Great War. By creating characters of American, Welsh, British, German, and Russian descent the author is able to weave
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such noteworthy historical events as: the rise of Hilter, the scare tactics of the fascists, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the dropping of the A-bomb, the spy rings of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Cold War. Even though it was 940 pages, I found the novel to be a page turner.

As with any work of this nature, there were times when I felt Follett left out major historical events such as the experiences of the working class during the Great Depression that followed WW I, and the experiences of the Jews during the Holocaust, but one must pick and choose with a work of this great a time span. Follett's emphasis seems to be the political implications of the choices made during this time period.

Also, while Follett is a great story teller, there were times when I felt the dialogue among the characters seemed forced and places where I wanted the story line to delve into greater detail. Once again, this is probably the nature of a historical fiction novel of this breadth.

Overall, a book I would recommend to history lovers and one which makes me think I will be reading the third book as soon as it is out!
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LibraryThing member ChelleBearss
I am such a big fan of this series which always seems to surprise me because I don't have a political bone in my body. I loved the first book which was a fictional telling of five families from different countries and castes during the time during and after WWI. Book two in the trilogy follows the
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next generation of those families during WWII.

Unfortunately my knowledge of both these times in history is quite poor so I wouldn't be able to pick out the difference between the actual historical facts and the fiction that Follett weaves together, but he does it in a way that, to me, flows more like fiction than fact.

I probably would have given this novel a higher star rating but I felt it was way too long. 940 pages probably could have been skimmed down by at least a hundred, although it didn't feel like it dragged too much. Overall a very decent and enjoyable read, but a time commitment!
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LibraryThing member KarenHerndon
Liked this even better than the first in the series. Just wish the third book was already out :(
LibraryThing member witchyrichy
Follett is able to weave the lives of his characters into the fabric of history in way that is compelling. Here he does not gloss over the violence and sadism that marked the second World War. I did think there was a somewhat surprising omission in that none of the characters ended up in a prisoner
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of war or concentration camp. He also did not spare his characters from the violence. But we also see the next generation emerging.
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LibraryThing member chndlrs
Follet traces the lives of multiple families before, during, and after WWII. A little heavy on the history of policy for my taste, but very well done and informative.
LibraryThing member shazjhb
Good book. Nice to have the people back in our lives. I wonder how much is actual fact and how much fiction.
LibraryThing member melissarochelle
First, Follett does a great job of making a fat book fly by. However, for a book that makes up something called "The Century Trilogy", I'm a little disappointed that the first two books only covered the first half of the century. Will the next book only make it to the fall of the Berlin Wall and
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then we're done?

Second, Follett does a wonderful job reminding us that war is horrific. He really doesn't hold back. If you're at all appalled by the fact that humans can be truly AWFUL to each other, then just don't read this book. I mean, this book serves as one big reminder that humans have this incredible capacity to just forget that others are also HUMAN. And we can be absolutely TERRIBLE to each other based on the most simplistic differences.

Third, Follett truly is an incredible author. He takes something as complicated as international relations and makes it into a story worth reading. Of course, I'm not a historian so I don't know how accurate he is, but as a reader I kept turning the pages. Can't wait to see what the next generation of Peshkovs, von Ulrichs, Dewars, Williams, and Fitzherberts live through.
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LibraryThing member Cathyvil
A thrilling sequel to Fall of Giants. Full of raw emotion that made it hard to read in places but impossible to put down. Follett is an incredible storyteller and the only complaint I have, as with all his books that I've read, is the slight duplication in details that he feels to remind the reader
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of (Carla working in the Jewish hospital which is dangerous and illegal, the colors created by the bombs; orange, green and purple). If it wasn't for this I would have given the book 5 stars easily but it's enough to annoy me that he thinks the reader isn't intelligent enough to remember these details. Overall a wonderful book even with this criticism.
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LibraryThing member mdhallauer
This book meets all expectations set by Ken Follett in his previous works. It was great to touch base with old friends from Fall of Giants and good to get to know new ones. As expected, character development and plot were excellently executed. This book really humanizes the era surrounding WWII.
LibraryThing member Luisali
The first bad reading of the year.
A formulaic and dull book with a (not very well) hidden political agenda: the identification between Nazis and Commies. The characters are shallow, the female ones are poorly "developed", if this term can be applied to descriptions based on the size of the bosom.
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The relationships between male and female characters are "soap opera style", few sweet talks and (oral) sex.
The coincidences are unbelievable: the characters manage to be part of every turning point of the history with two substantial differences: KristalNacht and the battle of Stalingrad. If the latter is ignored (I suppose) for sake of brevity and maybe to avoid to sympathize with the Reds, the first one is a very strange omission because of the German Jew characters. Follet overlooks the Holocaust (there is only a mention of Auschwitz in the last pages and the Jew doctor dies because of the T4 Aktion), is a narrative choice or a political one?
The spying part is ridicule: people are running around with the top-secret documents and everyone is more than willing to share his secrets.
The Italian edition boasts about four translators to keep the Follett's unique style: for what I see, Google translator should be more than apt to translate a so poorly written book.
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LibraryThing member auntieknickers
I listened to this book, rather than reading it in paper, because it was the least expensive way for me to get it immediately after finishing Fall of Giants. I'm a sucker for these sweeping saga types of book and my only regret is that now I have to wait for the next in the trilogy to be published.
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The reader did an excellent job with the many accents needed for this tale which follows members of five families (Welsh, English, German, Russian and American) with various connections to each other through the twentieth century and all its wars and upheavals. Since a much longer series I've been reading (Cynthis Harrod-Eagles's Morland Dynasty series) has reached a similar stage in history, it was interesting to compare the two. I'd say it's safe to say Ken Follett votes Labour and quite possible Cynthia Harrod-Eagles votes Tory. Their descriptions of the General Strike which took place in England in 1926 were quite different! In Winter of the World I especially was impressed by Follett's tracing of the changes in German society from the Weimar Republic to the Nazi takeover. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member Gatorhater
A very moving fictional historical story starting at the beginning of Adolf Hitler's rise to power going through the World War II. The characters seem to overwhelm you, emotionally and spiritually as the journey takes you through the war, giving you an insight of what the people of Europe had to
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deal with during this error. Can't wait till the last novel of this trilogy.
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LibraryThing member zmagic69
This book picks up right where Fall of Giants left off. A very good book except the author I think tried to tackle a period of time that while short (in number of years) was such a complicated period in world history that many events and in some cases entire years were shortchanged. I would have
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gladly read 300 more pages if that would have allowed for more detail and better plotting.
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LibraryThing member CynA
I really enjoyed the first installment in Follet's Century Trilogy and was swept into the lives of the different characters and their perspective on world events, I thought Winter fell short. The Second World War is is one of my favorite time periods for historical fiction. While Follet did a good
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job of exploring the history it seemed like he wrapped things up too quickly for some of the characters and there were too many instances of coincidence working in their favor.
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LibraryThing member starkravingmad
Excellent historical fiction set in pre-WWII Europe and forward through the early Cold War. Well defined characters with good linkages to Part I of the trilogy. As typical of Follett, well written with appropriate levels of depth and descriptions, with the occasional over-the-top torture or
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violence scene (in this case rape) . Looking forward to Part III of the Trilogy.
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LibraryThing member TigerLMS
Winter of the World is the sequel to Follett's sweeping novel Fall of Giants. The first chronicled several families during the early 20th century, including the Great War (World War I). Follett picks up the threads of those tales and starts this novel in the early 1930s, just a few years after the
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conclusion of Fall of Giants. Here we see the sons and daughters of the primary characters in the earlier novel as the main characters, with some of the now slightly older generation appearing here and there. The Leckwiths, Fitzherberts, and Peshkovs are all back and playing their roles in changing the world. It is the younger set that find themselves in harms way, or conveniently in specific situations that allow the author to tell the broader tale of the times, from Stalin's non-aggression pact with Hitler to Roosevelt's meeting on a warship with Churchill to create the United Nations. Gus Dewar appears again, now a United States Senator, and he and his son Woody are in Hawaii to visit Chuck, a navy intelligence officer, when the Pearl Harbor attacks happen. Like Fall of Giants, students of history can see events unfolding long before they occur in the novel.

Like Follett's other epic stories (including Pillars of the Earth and World Without End), this enormous book is easy to sink into and enjoy. While the convenient character placement sometimes seems a little heavy-handed just as a method to tell a larger tale of history, the individual storylines and the relationships between the characters help bring a good perspective to the larger sweep of history. I don't know that I can be patient for the third volume. If you haven't read the first in this trilogy, do that first. It's not a must, as this could easily stand on its own. It just makes a lot more sense to have the backstory from Fall of Giants available to you before you read Winter of the World.
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LibraryThing member MargaretdeBuhr
Always love his books - what wonderful stories.
LibraryThing member lucy3107
I really enjoyed this - so much so that I read it - all 940 pages of it - in two sittings. This book focuses on the offspring of the characters we met in Fall of Giants and their lives and actions in the 1930s and 40s, focusing on World War II, of course. As in the first book, all of the main
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characters avoid death, though their friends and loved ones around them are not so lucky. I'm not sure the character development was as strong in this book as in the first, but I feel like the plot moved faster - it's hard to say since it's been two years since reading the first book.
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Dutton (2012), Edition: First Edition, 960 pages

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