Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review: 'Winter of the World' by Ken Follett

"You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance." -- Psalm 90:8 (NKJV)

The plotting for this book is beyond my wildest imagination. With a relatively few characters, Mr. Follett manages to give us close-ups of almost every one of the major events in the United States, England, Wales, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Spain during the 1930s through World War II. There are also bits and pieces of other nations touched upon.

I found myself pretty comfortable with that approach, except towards the end where I felt he went over the top in terms of the coincidences the plot brings together. It left me feeling that he had lost perspective on his story.

I thought that the treatment of Germany was especially well done. He did a fine job of giving a sense of what it was like to be opposed to the Nazis. Some of the lesser known evils of that regime are also exposed.

One of the book's strengths comes in the way that Mr. Follett showed the harmful consequences of each nation's governmental and economic systems. It's a more balanced look at the nations involved than can normally be found in a novel.

The book's main weakness is that the events dominate the story a bit too much. Most people wanted a good family saga from Mr. Follett more than they wanted a detailed history lesson. I was a history major so there wasn't anything new here for me. I marveled at how much effort went into including all these details, but I suspect that they might seem excessive to those with less interest.

Be glad those days are behind us!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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