‘Winter of the World’ is the second book in Ken Follett’s 20th Century trilogy. Book 1 – ‘Fall of Giants’ presented WWI through the eyes of a number of families in different countries and from different backgrounds. This book covers the time before and during WWII through the next generation of those same families.
Walter and Maude von Ulrich are Social Democrats in Berlin in 1933, doing whatever they can to stop Hitler and the Nazi party from gaining absolute power. Their daughter, Carla, is also a Social Democrat while their son, Eric, always a follower, is an enthusiastic Nazi. We watch as Nazism takes hold of Germany and attacks begin against communists, Jews, homosexuals, immigrants and the disabled.
In the UK, the ‘blackshirts’ (the fascist party) led by Mosley are also on the rise. Moderates, having seen what happened in Germany do what they can to oppose them. Among the moderates are Ethel Leckwith and her son Lloyd Williams (who is also the son of Earl Fitzherbert). Having failed to halt the Nazis in Germany, Fascism is repelled in the UK. Lloyd and many others go on to fight against the fascists in Spain.
Before war breaks out, Volodya Peshkov is based at the Russian embassy in Berlin. He recruits a number of spies who continue to send information throughout the war, undermining some German attacks against Russia.
The book continues through to 1948, telling the fortunes of the Von Ulrich family in Germany, the Leckwith/Williams/Fitzherbert families in the UK, the Peshkov and Dewer families in the USA and the Peshkov family in Russia.
This excellent novel brings much of WWII to life by following the lives of the main characters, and also bringing many real historical characters into the story. Real events, such as the Manhatten project and the creation of the United Nations are also included.
The size of the book was a bit off-putting when I first started, but for over 800 pages it took me a surprisingly short time to read. Ken Follett has the ability to pull me into a story and make it interesting to read. I’m not sure what will be included in the third book of the trilogy, but I’m eagerly awaiting its publication.
Book Published 2012