Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

The second part of Follett's Century Trilogy, Winter of the World, continues the saga begun in Fall of Giants. It didn't take nearly as long to read this book as the last. The novel begins in 1933 as Germany is struggling with the rise to power of Hitler, fascism, and economical distress. England is dealing with much the same issues and the United States is trying hard to avoid another international conflict.

It would be impossible to summarize this book of over 950 pages. Follett again centers his novel on the families of Fall of Giants with the children of the significant characters becoming the protagonists. They are there at the center of the action, but also give voice to the philosophic ideas of the time leading up to World War II and when they are living out parts of that tortuous time in the history of the world. Paramount among those are Daisy Peshkov who marries into British political royalty, but who loves another, Woody and Chuck Dewer, sons of a powerful American senator, Carla Von Ulrich, a young German girl who dares to challenge Hitler's policies, and Russian spy Volodya Peshkov. It is around their stories and the historical events that the novel turns. 

Although the book continues through to the end of the war, there are a few seminal scenes that will stay with the reader long after the book is finished.  One will never forget when the Carla finds evidence of Hitler's killing of the infirm and mentally challenged children. It is painful to read and the reader is as outraged as she is. Would any of us have had the courage to do what she did. The bombing of Pearl Harbor is described in such detail that you can hear and feel the bombs falling and see the planes above. It is tragic for not only for our nation, but also for those characters who were in close proximity. And then there is the crushing London blitz, the plan to invade France and the landing on Normandy Beaches. The Battle of Midway is portrayed as a real turning point in the war and where the code breakers managed to outwit the Japanese. We can detest Stalin as much today as many of his contemporaries did. Follett's roots as an espionage and writer of spy fiction shine through as he focuses on Russians gathering intelligence on the development and production of nuclear bomb.

The book is a compelling read and this reader is anxious to have a block of time to be able to read the next installment in the trilogy, The Edge of Eternity.

1 comment:

Barbara Kuhns said...

I am just finishing the first book and look forward to continuing the historical journey. Barbara