review written by Brian Lowen & read live on bookshow 4th Dec 2014
This is the last in his trilogy entitled The Century and covers the period 1961 to 1989.
It is a real saga, a large book comprising over 1000 pages. Although it is a long story the interest does not flag. There are a great many different people in the book, some fictitious, but some real people – mostly prominent people at that time. The large number of characters do get a bit confusing for the reader, but after reading a few paragraphs of the chapter your memory picks up again from where you left off. The characters are all well described and formed in your mind as the story progresses.
The story centres around families living in America, England, Russia and East Germany and it is how their lives evolve through the years that forms the basis of the book. The story features several memorable events:
In East Germany, set up after the end of the Second World War and controlled by Russian communism, we live through the setting up of the wall between east and west, which started off as a barbed wire fence which then progressed to a double high concrete wall and how it affected people living either side of the wall.
In America the story deals with the separation of blacks and whites, particular in the south, and the violent racism that existed at that time and the campaign of Martin Luther King to bring equality between the two races. We are also involved in the Cuban crisis and hear the story from both sides, by an aide to First Secretary Khrushchev and an aide to President Kennedy, which is very interesting. We also hear of Kennedy’s assassination and also that of Martin Luther King. We also hear about the Watergate scandal which led to the downfall of the Nixon campaign. Now I know what it was all about as I had been a bit vague on that subject.
In Czechoslovakia we hear about the rise and fall of Dubcek and in Poland the rise of Lech Walesa and the formation of the trade union Solidarity.
These may seem a list of boring historical events, but KF has the knack of weaving an interesting story around these happenings that holds your attention and your interest.