|Rated G||Rated R|
|To-go||Sit and Savor|
Winter of the World, the second book in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, is a good entry point for people interested in WWII history fiction books, as the story is told from many points of view, something missing in a lot of WWII lit today.
Winter of the World picks up on the heels of The Fall of Giants, with the rise of Hitler to power and a new generation of youth coming into their own. Follett follows the storylines of the children of his original protagonists and the struggles that they face as they find their places in a world that continues to fall into conflict.
The strength of the novel is similar to the first. The reader benefits from many different points of view: German, English, Welsh, Russian and American. Follett also sheds light on the Spanish War and the brewing motivations for the Berlin Wall, events frequently overlooked in American history classes.
That said, the book revolves around war, and Follett does not shy away from the terror and horrors of battle and occupation. Several scenes are haunting and heartbreaking. While this makes pages of this book difficult to get through, it also humanizes stats and facts from the war. It shows what violence, chaos, cruelty, and poverty look like. The reader understands motivations, hate, and exhaustion. It’s a good read for anyone who is in a hurry to romanticize war.
As the strengths of this book are similar to its predecessor, so are its weaknesses. Once again, there are a fair amount of coincidences in this book that are eyebrow-raising, but they serve to move the plot along so they are easily forgiven. There is also a fair amount of repetition in this book, which some may like if it takes them a while to finish the book.
Finally, the prose of this book is pretty simple. This series of books should be studied for how Follett masters the art of long-form storytelling, but not necessarily the art of moving sentence structure.
Would I Recommend It?
Yes…and no (sound familiar?) It’s violent and heartbreaking. There are also some ‘adult’ scenes, so this book should not be used as a history teaching tool for kiddos. However, I enjoyed learning about some nuances from the war, and different perspectives on different events. The series is a good first step to understand what the h*** happened last century, and how we got to where we are today.
Read our review of Ken Follett’s first book in this trilogy: The Fall of Giants.