Geschreven bij Winter of the World
I have read several Ken Follett novels and enjoyed them all, including the first in this series, Fall of Giants. I learned a lot about World War I from that first book. Having always been interested in the 2nd World War era, I had been eager to read the 2nd book. The 2 things of most interest to me are the Holocaust, because I think it is important that we study these things so we recognize and can prevent it from happening again, and the Battle of the Bulge, because my uncle was wounded, most likely in that battle and he never talked about the war that haunted him. I want to learn about what he did, what he lived, how he survived. It was one of the biggest battles of the war.
Now, in a 900 page book that is supposed to be a fictional account of World War II, one would expect that all the MAJOR events and aspects would be covered. I realize it's complex. I realize that there are many other novels out there about the Holocaust, so I know it's been covered. But you can't have a full and accurate account without the most important events. It would be like the Bible just kind of glossing over Jesus' rising from the dead. Yes, everyone already knows it happened, but it's a major event that can't just be left out.
I really liked the first part of the book, where it showed the beginning...the Fascists taking over, the Brownshirts raiding businesses, the restrictions placed on Jews. But the restrictions are about where it ended as far as the treatment of Jews. We see no camps and we only hear of one Jew being taken to a work camp...we only see the segregation and that Jewish doctors could not treat non-jews, etc. The only extermination program we see is T4 (which I WAS happy to see that included, as that's not as well known) in which handicapped people were "euthanized" so as not to burden society, and then in Russia where people were marched in groups into a pit where they were shot. There is one mention of a RUMOR about a place called Auschwitz, where hundreds are killed per day, but that's the extent of it. It's rather minimizing of what the Jewish population suffered during the war, dismissive of their part in the history of Nazism.
There's a mention of invasion throughout Europe, but not the scope of the situation and there's no mention of the effects of the war on countries outside of Europe, or even for the most part outside of Germany, Russia, and London (there's not really much in the UK included outside of London). Every time we see the U.S., it appears untouched. It barely scratched the surface of the whole story and concentrated so heavily on the Russians, which undoubtedly bridges into the 3rd book, that it misses entire portions of history elsewhere (battle of Ardennes/bulge). It covered the Manhattan Project, which was interesting and fantastic, but the rest missed too much. If you only read ONE book about WWII era and you chose THIS book as that one book, you would think the U.S. played no part in the war against Germany. You would think Jews were segregated, but not necessarily submitted to torture and murder. You would think the Russians were the only ones to liberate the people from the Nazis. You would think that the war took place only in Germany and Russia, with a few other skirmishes.
In short, it's completely lacking in depth and that's not even mentioning the contrived situations and the stiff dialogue, nor the unrealistic and horrid sex scenes. If you really feel you need to read this book, don't waste your money, check it out at the library instead.