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Friday, 13 September 2013

Ken Follett - Winter of the World

reviewed by Brian Lowen on recorded show for 19th Sept 2013
This book is a real saga – not to be attempted unless you are prepared to concentrate, as the story involves several families, set in various countries – Russia, Germany, Spain, USA, England and Wales – all variously intertwined.

This is the second book in the trilogy – the Century, and it does help to read the first book first as the families continue in this book with their descendants.

The story is set in the period 1933 to 1949, leading up to , and including , the second world war and is historically very interesting, ie the politics involved in the Spanish civil war and Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. He actually did a lot of good for the country in a brutal way before his lust for greater power overwhelmed him. It is easy to understand how some politicians in other countries admired him. But Moseley’s fascists in Britain never managed to succeed as the Nazis did.

The story is too involved to précis, but you can keep flipping back to the beginning of the book to check the cast list given there, although this is not so easy if reading the book on a kindle.

I found the historical side of the story very interesting. Our families get involved in the London blitz – caused in some part by the British – it is alleged they started it by bombing cities, but this

was probably Hitler’s revenge for the RAF bombing Berlin because he had declared that NO British bombers would ever be able to reach Berlin. One of the other families get involved in the Nazi practice of killing off all disabled children and adults to save money looking after them – Jewish children receiving priority of course.

Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would invade Russia until he had defeated Britain, despite intelligence reports to the contrary, so when Germany did invade they were wholly unprepared and the German army swept through Russia as far as the outskirts of Moscow, before the Russian winter saved them again.

Other events featured in the story include Pearl Harbour and the last days of the war in Berlin. The politics after the war finished and the Berlin airlift, the Marshall plan and how Russia got its own nuclear bomb

A thoroughly good, absorbing read and I look forward to the last book of the triology.

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