Kane & Abel

by Jeffrey Archer

Book, 1980



Call number




New York : Simon and Schuster, c1980.


William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless Polish immigrant, are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. Two ambitious men are locked in a relentless struggle to build an empire, fueled by their all-consuming hatred. Over sixty years and three generations, through war, marriage, fortune, and disaster, Kane and Abel battle for the success and triumph that only one man can have.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jenners26
Story Overview

Two men—William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski—are born on the same day in 1906. However, their births could not be more different. Abel is a penniless orphan who is adopted by a poor Polish woodcutter's family after his mother is found dying by the road. Kane is born into a life
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of privilege—the only son of a powerful Boston banking millionaire.

The book chronicles the parallel lives of the two men. Abel endures hardship, tragedy and oppression but manages to immigrate to America and build a successful hotel chain. Kane takes full advantage of his birthright and receives the finest education money can buy and becomes the leader of one of America's oldest and most powerful banks—yet suffers a series of tragedies of his own that make him wary of trusting people.

Although their lives run parallel as they establish their careers, there are moments when their lives intersect. Eventually, they confront each other in a business situation that ends up affecting both their lives forever and leading to a game of one-upsmanship that affects not only their individual businesses but the U.S. financial community. As the conflict unfolds between them for the bulk of their adult lives, both are stunned to find that the biggest price ends up being paid by those they love the most.

My Thoughts

I'm going to say this upfront: I didn't like this book. I forced myself to finish reading it—hoping it might get better. It didn't. Once I was 200 pages in, I felt I needed to just go ahead and slog on through.

I had high hopes going in because I'd seen a few bloggers raving about Jeffrey Archer and his books—especially Kane & Abel. But whatever they might have seen in this book eluded me because it left me cold.

My first problem is with the writing style. I found the writing to be very choppy. The entire book is written in a kind of rat-a-tat-tat style that I found off-putting. The majority of the narration and dialogue simply exists to move the story along; there isn't a lot of introspection, character development or extraneous description. I kept thinking: "This book seems so masculine. So abrupt and cold." I don't know if this is typical of Jeffrey Archer, but I don't plan on finding out. Characters are introduced and then dispatched with cold abandon. Perhaps this is meant to mirror the characters themselves—both of whom are somewhat unlikable and ruthless—but I feel it doesn't allow the reader to get a toehold into the story.

My next problem was with the amazing coincidences that keep bringing these two together. I guess I should have expected that from the very beginning when Archer chose to have them born on the same day. However, it began to annoy the heck out of me when they kept having run-ins that were really unbelievable. I mean, in all of the insanity of World War II, the fact that Abel (who mostly stays behind battle lines managing the food prep) ventures into "combat" exactly one time and manages to heroically save one person and it ends up being Kane was just too much for me.

Another coincidence that drove me up the wall was when these men—who end up being the bitterest enemies bent on mutual destruction for almost the entire book—both have one person they love more than anyone in the world—their children. I'll give you one guess who ends up falling in love. Yes....their children. Doesn't that just beat all? I mean it isn't like they live in a small town or anything where the choices are limited. No, they "find" each other in the podunk town of New York City. Oh, did I spoil the book for you? Well, you should have seen it coming a mile off—I know I did and I'm terrible at that kind of stuff.

But perhaps the biggest reason I didn't like the book was that I didn't like Kane or Abel. I just didn't give a darn what happened to either one of them. Both are obsessed with money and power and have few "real" human relationships. So once you factor in unlikable characters, add in a writing style that didn't grab me, and multiply by plot turns that seem unbelievably contrived, I ended up giving this book two stars (and that is being generous).

My Final Recommendation

I don't recommend this book at all. I didn't enjoy it in the least. So, I guess I've defying Otto Preminger, who has a blurb on the back of my book that reads: "I defy anyone not to enjoy this book, which is one of the best novels I have ever read." Well, Mr. Preminger: I didn't enjoy it. What are you going to do about it?

But I have to tell you, I seem to be alone in my assessment of this book from what I can tell. There are tons of 5 star reviews on Amazon, and the book jacket itself is just loaded with glowing praise. So, even though it wasn't my type of book, it might still have merit for you.
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LibraryThing member bibliobbe
This is an entertaining book, but the holes in the plot are large enough to drive a truck through. Two men, born on the same day in 1906, one into poverty in Poland, the other into a wealthy American banking family, both become rich and powerful. Polish Abel Rosnovski builds up a hotel empire,
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while William Lowell Kane is chairman of his family’s bank. Naturally, a fierce enmity develops between the two men, based on a number of misunderstandings that are too, too obvious to the reader. If Jeffrey Archer didn’t have such an odious reputation I might have enjoyed this book a bit more, but I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it to anyone.
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LibraryThing member vanamala
I am not sure how many hindi / english filmmakers have been inspired by this novel. Typical bollywoodish kind of theme but written with such flair. It has suspense, romance, emotions almost everything. A very good and fast read.
LibraryThing member suetan
It is quite a while since I read this book, but I can still remember the basic storyline and would recommend this book to anyone who likes this type of story. Both male characters are born at the same time (from different backgrounds and living conditions) and follows their lives and their
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LibraryThing member bookworm78
Quite possibly one of my most favorite books ever read. The conflict within the story simply takes a hold of you and doesn't let go. Very well written....you literally feel like you are experiencing the story right along with the characters.
LibraryThing member jayne_charles
Not one of Archer's best, for me. Liked the start - some great scene setting, quite hard-hitting stuff. What put me off was the 'reason' behind the feud. It just felt too contrived, somehow, and difficult to swallow. All downhill from there.
LibraryThing member mojomomma
A penniless Polish peasant and a rich Boston Brahmin are born on the same day in 1906. Despite their very different beginnings their lives intertwine and they become bitter rivals. But then, the next generation really screws up the vendetta.
LibraryThing member oscisme
Jeffery Archer's "Kane and Abel" gripped me with its exciting plot from beginning to end.

Two men born on the same day on opposite sides of the world. William Lowell Kane is the President of Lester, Kane, and Company, a merge of two family banks. Abel Rosnovski is the owner of the Baron Group,
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transformed from the run-down Richmond Group originally owned by Davis Leroy.

Abel was originally Wladek, being a witness of the terrible WWI. He ran away, and left for the US, where he got his name changed to Abel.

William's father was a rich banker. As his father was returning to the US while their family was on vacation, he died on the sunken Titanic. His mother married Henry Osborne, and as she was giving birth, she died. William kicked Osborne out.

Abel is now working for the Plaza Hotel, where he is met by Davis Leroy, the owner of the Richmond group. He asks Abel to join the Chicago Richmond. At Chicago, he re-encounters Zaphia, his wife-to-be, whom he met on the boat coming to the US. He notices that the manager is the reason for the Chicago Richmond losing money. He asks Leroy to fire him, even though he is a close friend. He agrees, and Abel is the new manager for the Chicago Richmond.

William is now working in Kane and Cabot, the family bank. He is helping people who are struggling financially pay off debts. Then comes the Great Depression. That's when he meets Abel.

Abel is angry. He believes that Kane and Cabot "killed" Davis Leroy. Leroy suicided because he was too deep in debts. He left everything to do with the hotels with Abel. Abel is now in debt. Fortunately, an anonymous backer helped Abel get back on his feet. But now, Abel wants revenge against William. He bought stock from a company to do with the now merged Lester, Kane and Company, dumped it back in the market (which made others sell as well), and bought it again. Now William wants revenge.

The story continues along the lines of this.

The main theme of this book is revenge, and how you can keep going until you achieve it. Abel plotted for years on the downfall of Kane. As he is slowly reaching revenge, William tries to get his revenge. It reminds me of the 7 Habits, in a lose-lose situation. It's a downward spiral, and won't stop. Although one of them did lose, it could have gotten a lot worse.

I recommend this book because it's interesting, but it's for a more mature audience.
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LibraryThing member kaipakartik
Didn't enjoy this book. Predictable. The writing is not something extraordinary either. It just feels overlong.
LibraryThing member Bennyjon
One of the best story teller of all time- Jeffrey Archer. Kane and Abel is a great story that all story lovers should read. This book happened to be the first english book I read completely. This book gave me the inspiration and passion to read english books.
LibraryThing member lindawwilson
Almost 3 stars, but not quite. It was really an unexciting tale overall with things always coming out "OK" eliminating development of suspense. However, it was good enough to finish and generated enough interest to wonder "what will happen next."
LibraryThing member carmahaston
One of my all time favoriate books!
LibraryThing member JillKB
This book was hard to put down once I got into it -- a very compelling story of two men, born on the same day into very different circumstances. The obsession of these men, who are so alike in so many ways, each to destroy the other, was very sad. In addition, "Kane and Abel" is a good work of
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historical fiction, that covers major events of the 20th century very effectively.

I suppose the main thing about the book that bothered me was how male it was -- although a few women characters played important roles, there was such an emphasis on the male perspective and the importance of a male heir that it sometimes offended me.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
It was clear from the start that this wasn't great literature by any means--but for the first part of around 200 pages I found it gripping. One of those sagas where you enjoy a panorama of history and watching two powerful characters clashing. The story follows two men born on the same day in 1906.
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William Kane Lowell, a Boston Brahmin and Abel Rosnovski, the illegitimate son of a Polish baron. We follow their parallel but contrasting from boyhood. Both prove themselves at first both extraordinary and sympathetic. We watch self-contained William shrewdly build on his fortune, making his own money buying and selling matchbox cars to his classmates, building a stockmarket portfolio while still a schoolboy, and struggling against his feckless stepfather. Meanwhile Abel comes into his inheritance, learning he's his father's son even as he loses everything to the Russians in the wake of World War I and emigrating to the United States with only a few dollars coming off the boat.

My problems with the books began when their lives began to intersect. Too many coincidences moved the plot, too many misunderstandings and pettiness factored into their enmity and the resolution was too cliched.
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LibraryThing member artikaur
The storyline was interesting, especially the twist at the end. However, the book seemed to drag on at points. Overall, a decent read.
LibraryThing member JenniN
Good read. Interesting first book of a series.
LibraryThing member nakmeister
Two men, born on opposite sides of the world in completely contrasting conditions, on the same day. One the son of a multi-millionaire banker in America, the other a boy found next to his dead mother by a poor trapper, and raised for the first few years in a small, squalid cottage in rural Poland.
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It is the first decade of the twentieth century, and the two boys’ upbringings are very different, but eventually their fates intertwine, as hated enemies...

This is a really great book, a cut above most thrillers, just for the unique approach to the story. Perhaps I enjoyed it more than many would, because instead of concentrating on military and political events, it is about the economic prospects of the two men as they try to build a fortune, my sort of thing. Nevertheless it is very cleverly written, and has a great twist at the end that I didn’t expect at all. Well worth reading.
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LibraryThing member libraryhermit
I love books in the "separated at birth" mode. One little boy is born in Poland and one little boy is born in Boston, and you know they are going to meet each other.
I love the "two characters with a massive history walk past each other in the street with nothing but a poignant tipping of the hat,
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but no words to express the tortuous history of decades that they have both endured."
This book has both. If there was a genre for this, I would love to know what it is called.
I picked up this book by chance, knowing nothing of the author. I am glad I read it.
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LibraryThing member sandra.pinkerton83
excellent 20th century historical fiction.
LibraryThing member Tony2704
Absolutely brilliant, why did it take me so long to realise Archers work is so good ?
LibraryThing member crashmyparty
Everytime I read something by Jeffrey Archer I like his storytelling more and more, he has a brilliant way of weaving a story. Now I am undecided as to whether I enjoy his novels or his short stories more
LibraryThing member christinejoseph
2 men widely different backgrounds, Bost millionaire, Polish immigrant struggle.

Born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of the world, both men are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. These two men -- ambitious, powerful, ruthless -- are locked in a
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relentless struggle to build an empire, fuelled by their all-consuming hatred. Over 60 years and three generations, through war, marriage, fortune, and disaster, Kane and Abel battle for the success and triumph that only one man can have.
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LibraryThing member abhidd1687
once in a while one gets across a book which is a gem.. dis is one..d story unfolds at such a breakneck pace that i was afraid to keep it down for the sole fear that d story will continue even while i was not reading..
LibraryThing member amme_mr
Angus and Robertson Top 100 (2006 - 2008) Book #88.
Kane and Abel was an interesting book. Possibly a little depressing at times, but still an enjoyable book to read. It would be a book that I recommend, but possibly down the list from other books.
LibraryThing member pennsylady
audio discs

"William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless polish immigrant-born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of

Original publication date



067125121X / 9780671251215

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