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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
"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