Edge of Eternity

by Ken Follett

Hardcover, 2016

Call number





Penguin Books (2016), Edition: Reprint, 1136 pages


East German teacher Rebecca Hoffmann discovers she's been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for the rest of their lives. George Jakes, the child of a mixed-race couple, bypasses a corporate law career to join Robert F. Kennedy's Justice Department, and finds himself in the middle not only of the seminal events of the civil rights battle, but a much more personal battle of his own. Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a senator, jumps at the chance to do some official and unofficial espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is a much more dangerous place than he'd imagined. Dimka Dvorkin, a young aide to Nikita Khrushchev, becomes a prime agent both for good and for ill as the United States and the Soviet Union race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister, Tanya, carves out a role that will take her from Moscow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw and into history.… (more)

Media reviews

En este último tomo de la trilogía «The Century», los protagonistas principales son los nietos de las cinco familias que conocimos por primera vez en La caída de los gigantes. Ken Follett narra las luchas, tragedias y alegrías de sus vidas personales entrelazadas con los acontecimientos principales ocurridos durante estos años. La novela arranca en 1961 y, a través de los dramas personales de los protagonistas, nos ofrece un recorrido histórico de estos años en Europa y Estados Unidos. A través de los protagonistas de El umbral de la eternidad viviremos el asesinato de John F. Kennedy y de suhermano Bobby, el levantamiento del muro de Berlín, el encarcelamiento de los disidentes soviéticos en los gulags de Siberia, la guerra de Vietnam, el escándalo de Watergate, la invasión de la bahía de Cochinos en Cuba, la invasión de Checoslovaquia por los rusos y mucho más.

User reviews

LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
The story picks up in 1961, and is followed by decades of turmoil in America and elsewhere. Many of the characters in the initial two volumes return to this finale. The Dewars, the Francks, the Peshkovs and the Williams all somehow manage to cross paths again. They are united in their fields of endeavor, the government, politics, journalism, and entertainment. Regardless of the distances between their countries, America, Germany, Britain and Russia, their lives co-mingle effortlessly, an accomplishment which requires great patience on the part of the reader since it stretches credibility.

The narrative is rife with the familiar names of historic personages: Martin Luther King, the Kennedys, Kruschev, Gorbachev, McCarthy, Reagan, Obama and a host of others. Familiar historic events are featured and name-dropped, like the Freedom Ride, the Civil Rights Movement, the free love, promiscuity and open drug use at a concert in Woodstock, flower children making love not war, the anti-war movement that explodes as the Viet Nam war spreads and continues, the Iran Contra scandal, the Cuban Bay of Pigs debacle and the Berlin Crisis. These are but a few of the traumatic events described in the last decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Assassinations abound, Germany reunites, the Cold War ends and begins again, and a man of color is elected President to name a few more important moments in history.

The author’s political point of view rears its head throughout the book. His left leaning bias is obvious to the point of being intrusive and annoying. Everyone lies, all of the characters are driven by thoughts and/or acts of sex, all the women become pregnant, without or without the sanctity of marriage, with or without the knowledge of their partners, all republicans are responsible for the evil in the world and the liberals are responsible for what is good, even when they are engaged in wrongful behavior, never mind the KKK or the corrupt Democrat led government in Chicago. All the blacks are disgusted with the lack of equality and the only ones with noble goals are socialists and civil rights workers.

It feels like the same old, same old theme that runs through all of this author’s recent books. The language is unnecessarily foul, the sex is unnecessarily explicit and out of place, too many women are loose, too many men are disloyal, too many successful people are corrupt and government is overpowering. America is weak, men are shallow, women appear to be stronger but somehow most fall short when dealing with men of power. In short, the world seems like an ugly place according to Follett with little hope for real change. He tells a story that is not always credible in order to include all of the important historic moments, and his view and interpretation of the history sometimes seemed highly questionable and slanted toward his political preference.

The narrative follows each family and their experiences parallel each other so closely that each scene is predictable. The author would have us believe that they are all engaged in some form of infidelity, amoral and/or unethical behavior regardless of how high up the ladder they climb, or perhaps in spite of it. It seems as if none are without a stain on their reputation. The dialogue is often hackneyed and repetitive. Each family has someone in the same age range with a job that bring them in contact with each other, even though they live in different parts of the world. This simply creates too many contrived coincidences to make this more than a beach read, but with just about 1400 pages, it is probably even too long for that!

I feel sure that many Follett fans will eagerly read and adore this book, but I was very disappointed.
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LibraryThing member bevok
Packing in 1000 pages (the longest of the already hefty Century Trilogy) Ken Follett has certainly provided value for money in the final book of this sequence. The book carries on the saga from the advent of the Berlin Wall through to its fall, with a more recent epilogue moment.
Follett has written these books to be enjoyed on their own terms as well as being part of a sequence. In some ways reading Edge of Eternity on its own might be a more satisfying experience. My main criticism of the book is the sense of repetition of some of the plot devices and situations from the prior novels. Another teenage girl discovers to her horror that she is pregnant (ruining her dreams), a lead character discovers hurtful infidelity - OK these are staples of popular fiction but here on the third book they just felt a bit too familiar.
That said Follett still writes a solid readable book. The recount of dramatic events is great and gives a much more powerful perspective than reading a straight history book. From the frustration and sense of imprisonment in East Berlin to the fear of nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the corruption of the Nixon years, the accomplished novelist has the ability to make vivid the feelings and human drama.
The characters were interesting, although perhaps there were too many. I just didn't feel quite the same level of engagement as with the earlier books. Interestingly there are actually less characters in this book than Fall of Giants (75 including peripheral roles as opposed to 84) although there are significantly more real historical figures. I think some of the figures in the earlier books like Ethel, Fitz, Billy and Grigori were better drawn and evoked with dialogue and incident. Perhaps also the struggles here seem a bit less dramatic - Dave Williams trying to get ahead as a pop singer doesn't really compare to Billy's life down the mines and at war, although that is a slightly extreme comparison.
Overall though, I would still recommend this book. You'll be drawn into the story, the events and experience frustration and triumph (and probably a tear on the last page or two). It certainly was a tumultuous century, and well evoked in epic fiction by Ken Follett.
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LibraryThing member musichick52
There is more fact than fiction in this concluding volume of Mr. Follett's trilogy, an historical account of the major political events of the 20th century. I have lived through the three decades that frame this installment and it was a terrific and terrifying experience to relive those years through the author's eyes. He has us trudging across the planet from Russia to Cuba, England, the U. S., East and West Germany, Vietnam, Hungary, Poland, the Middle East. The characters he has created accompany the major political figures of this era from their day to day trivia to the brink of nuclear war. The book is huge, over 1100 pages, the scope is grandious and the upon finishing this read, I felt like I had completed the reading of a PhD dissertation. His thank you list of history experts is impressive. My one minor complaint is the use of a sentence or two of recapitualtion when returning to a story line. I did not need the reminder of what happened a couple of chapters ago. You have 25 more years to cover to bring us up to today. I highly recomment this read and my thanks to the author and Penguin's First to Read program for a complimentary copy of this amazing opus.… (more)
LibraryThing member iadam
I received an advance copy of this book for early review. This is the third book in the Century Trilogy and spans the years of 1961 through 1989 with an epilogue in November 2008. The story encompasses the Cold War era and the turmoil during these years in the United States, Germany, and Russia and follows the same families from the two previous books of the trilogy. The first two books made me more aware of the history of the eras. This book brought back memories and images that are very familiar to me as I began college in the fall of 1963 and lived through this era. I feel that it was portrayed very honestly. I do wonder what some present day individuals may think about how honestly and harshly Ken Follett portrayed some of the individuals and historic events even though that is the way it happened. At the end of the book I was left wondering how things worked out for Tanya and Vasili and Walli and Karolin. This is a great book and I enjoyed reading it.… (more)
LibraryThing member knittingmomof3
It has taken me awhile to put to words my thoughts of Edge of Eternity, Ken Follett’s final book in The Century Trilogy. My first impression while reading the book was how disappointed I was, then let down and shocked at how much was left out or glossed over, and in place of what could be fascinating characters were just the children and grand children of the previous books characters, but unlike their predecessors, contained little to no substance. I was rather put off by the excessive use of descriptive sexual relations, if I wanted that sort of information, I would have selected a different genre and with Follett’s work, my standards are much higher. Ultimately I am giving the book 4 stars because Follett’s writing is exceptional, yet falls short of his previous two books in this otherwise extraordinary trilogy. It is possible that readers who have not read his previous works will find Edge of Eternity brilliant, however, I did not, and the fact he covers decades so rich in history, far too much was either glossed over or utterly ignored. I cannot believe I waited so long to be this let down. To cite specific examples would be to add nothing but spoilers, each reader will take from the book a slightly different feeling or impression and I do so wish this book could stand up with his previous two, but it fell far short. I still would recommend the trilogy; the first two books are definite must-reads. If anyone chooses to listen to this book via audio, mind if little ones are around. I do believe Edge of Eternity will make for a very lively book discussion choice.… (more)
LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
The trilogy that began with Fall of Giants, now moves into the Cold War and the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960s. Once again we follow the fortunes of five families spread across Europe and America, some free and some oppressed, but whose lives have become intertwined through international events, wars and political crises. In 1961, decisions are being made in the corridors of power which will bring the world to the brink of oblivion. Follett puts the humanity into history and this ambitious and emotion-packed trilogy has captured the cataclysmic 20th century through the eyes of a diverse and colorful collection of people.
As he did in the prior two books of this massive trilogy, Follett has used meticulous and exhaustive research weaving fact and fiction and encompassing everything from the American civil rights movement and the Cuban missile crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the birth of rock and roll. We have witnessed both ordinary and extraordinary people as they fight to stay alive and win their rightful place in society, endure life’s triumphs and tragedies, negotiate change on an unprecedented scale and struggle to comprehend what the future may hold for them.
Edge of Eternity, the final chapter of their story, provides a satisfying and ultimately moving finale. While not my favorite book of the series, I am really going to miss these characters that I've come to admire. I found it to be a superb listening experience, wonderfully narrated by John Lee.

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LibraryThing member crazeedi73
This book was blatantly political and possesses a one sided inaccurate view of 20th century politics. It left behind the good family story lines of the previous two books. Not really worth the time I took to read it.
LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
This third book of the Century Trilogy was especially meaningful to me because it covers the era that many of us lived through, the early days of the civil rights movement, the assassination of our leaders.

I loved the history parts of this book. I am deeply ashamed for the behavior of some of my contemporaries, and am greatly disturbed to know that some of these thugs are still alive with never having to pay for their violence and hatred.

Some of the historical events in the book were just reminders of what I already knew, but I also was given insight into events I didn't know about, and learned of events that never hit my radar.

As far as the fictional part – I really hate that the author seems to think the answer to a drag in the plot is to throw in an unplanned/unexpected/unwanted pregnancy. He does this a LOT. I also felt that his writing of women's feelings were glaringly written from a man's viewpoint. And I could have done without some of the explicit sex. Reading about someone else's sex acts just doesn't do it for me.

The narrator, John Lee, does a very good job with most of the various voices and accents, even though he does pronounce some words differently than I learned. Maybe he is right and I'm wrong. Or maybe it is a British thing.

Despite its shortcomings, I really enjoyed all three books of this trilogy. If I didn't, I wouldn't have spent over 36 hours listening to this one, close to 100 hours for the trilogy.

I listened to the unabridged Audible version of these books.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
My favorite book in the trilogy, probably because this one is such an interesting mixed-bag of world events and captures late 20th century events that I have memories of watching on TV or reading about in the newspaper. I like how Follett’s characters get close to the events to provide a credible, fictionalized first person point of view. The author has a knack for writing suspenseful stories and skillfully provides the reader with a history lesson that isn’t a dry, fact filled snoozer. Not quite as hip, snappy and rock and rollish as Billy Joel’s song, We Didn’t Start the Fire, but still a highly entertaining read for me. Yes, Follett does capture the rock and roll era through his fictional British band, Plum Nelly. Hard to do a sweeping 20th century novel with out capturing the music scene, but the focus is also on the politics and impact of the Cold War. Given the myriad of events that occurred between 1960 through to the late 1980’s (the time period captured here), it is not surprising that Follett had to pick and choose which events to focus on and which ones to gloss over. Yes, even at over 1,000 pages, he still couldn't cram in EVERYTHING. Even so, he managed to bring some interesting perspectives. For example, while President Kennedy is in the story, he takes a bit of a back seat to his brother, Senator Bobby Kennedy. Follett barely touches on either JFK or Martin Luther King's assassinations - probably makes sense given the number of books already published on those topics. For the Vietnam War, Follett takes another unique approach by drafting a British born, U.S. landed immigrant into the US Army, presenting an “outsider on the inside” perspective of the war. Yes, one has to accept the fact that Follett’s characters always seem to be ‘opportunely’ placed to witness or be involved with various events, but hey, this is fiction, even if it is anchored by historical events. When Follett decides to “go big,” he does so with without restraint.

Overall a wonderful conclusion to a truly epic saga and one I can highly recommend if you like your historical fiction reads to be entertaining and engaging.
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LibraryThing member TerriBooks
The final book of the Century Trilogy, and I think it might be my favorite of the three. Bracketed by the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall on the international side, and the Freedom Riders and Obama's election in the U.S., the wide cast of characters built up in the previous two novels, and their growing families, continue to be improbably present for a large number of historic events. Maybe because it takes place in a time I can personally remember, I found it endlessly involving. I was in tears at the scene when the Berlin Wall was opened up. A fitting end to the series.… (more)
LibraryThing member john257hopper
This is the final volume of the author's trilogy dealing with the lives and interactions with great events of a number of families in the US, the USSR, Germany and Britain (though scenes set in this country are few and far between and easily the least dramatic episodes in the narrative). The first half of the book is full of dramatic and tense events and passages: the struggle in the US for civil rights for African Americans against the forces of brutal authoritarianism and society's prejudices; the Cuban missile crisis where the world came closer than before or since to nuclear armageddon; and daring escapes over the Berlin wall, facing the merciless ruthlessness of the border guards who shot escapees on sight. The second half of the book, or at least the passages after about the early to mid 1970s, lacked the impact of the early parts for me, though the final chapters on the dramatic events of 1989 in Eastern Europe were gripping. There is also a strong thread of music making throughout the narrative. As it covered the period 1961 to 1989, the novel might almost have been called "Wall to Wall" - Edge of Eternity seems a rather vacuous title. A great read, and I think this Century trilogy is Follett's best work, surpassing Pillars of the Earth.… (more)
LibraryThing member 4fish
Looking at the average ratings, I can see I'm in the minority here, but I just didn't enjoy this one as much as the first two books in the trilogy. Too much focus on the minutiae of Cold War politics at the expense of character development, in my opinion.
LibraryThing member MBDudley
I enjoyed the series until the final 300 pages, when Follett took the lazy path of "all democrats are good and all republicans are evil." It dampened my enthusiasm for the series dramatically.
LibraryThing member zmagic69
Nt as good as the first two, but still a fantastic book to read. I felt too much time was spent in the 60's and way too much praise for the Kennedy's, the usual hate for Nixon, nothing regarding Jimmy Carter the buffoon. I get that it was fiction but still. The ending of the book was a little to predictable as well, by that I mean the epilogue was not needed if all it was going to focus on was one family.… (more)
LibraryThing member sblerner
Ken Follett is always very readable, but this one felt more like a political history lesson than character driven novel. In other words, the characters seemed to exist as voices to tell the history. The romances were not all that believable and the characters felt a bit flat.
That said, it IS fascinating history, and while it fell off a lot in the middle, by the last 20% I felt somewhat more invested in the story. He knows how to keep the pages turning, and I'm still a fan. Not my favorite Follett, but how many times can you write "Pillars of the Earth?"… (more)
LibraryThing member MBDudley
I enjoyed the series until the final 300 pages, when Follett took the lazy path of "all democrats are good and all republicans are evil." It dampened my enthusiasm for the series dramatically.
LibraryThing member MBDudley
I enjoyed the series until the final 300 pages, when Follett took the lazy path of "all democrats are good and all republicans are evil." It dampened my enthusiasm for the series dramatically.
LibraryThing member LaurelH
So very disappointing. I wish I had borrowed this from the library instead of spending hard earned money. The perspective is distorted, the characters flat and often phoney, lacking depth and realism. The obsession with sex is distasteful and boring. It is hard to believe that the same person wrote this book as wrote Pillars of the Earth. I found the writer's attitude to the era disconcerting and the details inaccurate, right down to distractions such as using a phrase like "yadda, yadda, yadda", with such strong associations with a tv programme that didn't evn begin until just before the wall came down. How did that one get by so many editors and proof readers? In placing his characters in positions so close to the leading figures of the day the author attempts to inject reality but in the end it all lacks credibility. There is an aura of hatred and contempt that makes this book anything but enjoyable. The era this book spans covers much of my life. I can tell you there was much more of positive spirit and optimism in our time than is reflected here. I found it odd that reviewers panned the book but continued to give it more stars than I felt were warranted. Don't waste your time.… (more)
LibraryThing member stephengal
I'm sorry but I feel that Follett is really a very bad writer. This was like reading a thousand page long People magazine.
LibraryThing member shazjhb
I enjoyed the series although it is hard to remember some of the back stories. Interesting that very little is said about Margaret Thacker and England in the 80's but it is hard to put everything into one book.
LibraryThing member crazeedi73
This book was blatantly political and possesses a one sided inaccurate view of 20th century politics. It left behind the good family story lines of the previous two books. Not really worth the time I took to read it.
LibraryThing member cindyb29
The final book in the Century trilogy, this book covers the Williams, Franck, Peshkov and Dewar families during the 1960s. Unfortunately I had trouble remembering the stories of the original family members since I read the first two books about a year ago. If I had it to do over, I'd wait until all the books were published before reading them. I did enjoy it because I lived through the 60s and remember so many of the things that happened. Some of the storylines seemed a bit unbelievable, but overall a good book. And a pretty quick read too, even at over 1000 pages.… (more)
LibraryThing member Tybeemiller
His failure to control his heavy handed political views detracts from this story.
LibraryThing member hmskip
Blah! Blah! Blah! Ran out of time on my library book with a couple of chapters left and decided I didn't care enough to wait for my turn to come around again to read the rest. Never finished.

I love Ken Follett, but his newer books, especially the trilogies, have become too formulaic.
LibraryThing member bdtrump
A bit disappointed with this one. 'Edge of Eternity' lacks the charm of 'Fall of Giants' and 'Winter of the World', from character likability to plot development. Old characters become quickly obsolete, and the new cast is whiny, self-loathing, yet at the same time utterly narcissistic.

Follett is a genius of historical fiction, but I get the distinct feeling that he tried to do too much here. Some scenes are marvelously done - I haven't yet read a better take on the worldwide reaction to the Kennedy assassination - yet the 1970s-1989 are brushed over as if little happened relative to the 1960s. Follett is generally also a master of apolitical writing where no political persuasion or issue is viewed as 100% just or evil, yet 'Edge of Eternity' definitely read as politically slanted in many ways. Where the first and second books gave everyone a fair shake, I got the distinct feeling that the characters were written in a way to push for a particular agenda.

The biggest disappointment is that I simply didn't care about the characters. Other than Dimka (and maybe Cam Dewar, later on), they are all inherently hypocritical and self-serving, and have the rare ability to make even just political causes seem childish, easy, or utterly uncomplicated. 'Fall of Giants' and 'Winter of the World' were masterpieces because they were the exact opposite: a window into history that showed just how difficult, complex, and uncertain things were in a time of destruction, fear, and hope. 'Edge of Eternity' offers little other than a sense of cynicism against any government and its respective politicians.

The book did capture an incredible breadth of history, for which I give Follett credit. His writing style is easy and engaging to read, regardless of the book's length.

Ultimately, The Century Trilogy will be well regarded for the outstanding successes of the first two books, where this one carries the torch over the finish line at a light jog. Could have been richer, more meaningful, and with stronger characters, but still entertaining nonetheless.
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