Winter of the World

Winter of the World (Book Two of the Century Trilogy), by Ken Follett. Dutton (New York, 2012). 940 pp., $25 PB.

If the reader is looking for a book with which he can spend the summer, no book will entertain more than Ken Follett’s Winter of the World. The 940-page novel insures days and hours of pleasurable reading.

The first volume of the Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants (2010), covered World War I, up to 1932. Winter of the World covers 1933 through 1949 and includes World War II.

In Book Two the reader continues the stories of the characters met in Book One.

In the United States, Senator Gus Dewar plays a major role alongside Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Dewar’s sons, Woody and Chuck, both enter the war; one returns home, and one is killed in battle.

Also in the United States is the Peshkov Family, headed by Lev, who, in Book One, immigrates from Russia, has a daughter named Daisy with his wife Olga and a son named Greg with his mistress Marga. Daisy marries “Boy” Fitzherbert, British Earl Fitzherbert’s son, who, before interracial marriage became socially acceptable, falls in love with Jacky Jakes, a starlet, with whom he fathers a son, Georgy.

Winter of the World

Also in Britain is the Leckwith–Williams Family. Ethel, who was elected a Member of Parliament in Book One, has a son, Lloyd Williams, who discovers who his real father is, and a daughter, Millie.

Earl Fitzherbert’s sister, Maud, married Walter von Ulrich in Book One. Book Two opens with them living in Germany with their children, Erik and Carla, just as Hitler is rising to power. Also in Germany, the reader follows the Franck Family, the Rothmann Family, and others who suffer the result of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi takeover of Germany.

In Russia is Lev’s brother, Grigori, who has a son, Vladimir (called Volodya), both of whom work for the Communist Stalin. Volodya travels to the United States to steal plans for the atomic bomb that Russia needs to compete with the U.S. government in the redrawn boundaries of Europe after World War II. He marries Zoya Vorotsyntsev, a physicist who spearheads the development of the Soviet Union’s atomic bomb.

These and more characters people the pages of Follett’s historical novel. In Book One, the reader met and got to know the characters who fight World War I; in Book Two, the reader revisits them and gets to know their children, who fight World War II, participate in the making of the atomic bomb and the beginning of the rebuilding effort in Europe, and have their own children, who will populate the pages of Book Three in the trilog

Follett’s style of writing gives days and hours of pleasurable reading about the world events of the 20th century.

This reviewer had great hopes for Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood by Carlos Andres Gomez (New York, N.Y.: Gotham Books, 2012). He was looking for a definition of manhood along with some serious reflections on what it means to be a man today. Also, he was thinking that he might find some information on male spirituality. Man Up provides none of those.

In short, the book is Gomez’s memoir about growing up. Since he is a 20-something award-winning poet, actor, and writer, he still has a lot of growing up to do! Never does the author define manhood. Instead, he tells stories about all the places he has lived, the divorce of his parents, the remarriage of his father and the birth of his half-brother and half-sister, and his use of women and how those events affected his life.

Each of the 11 chapters begins with a poem Gomez wrote. Chapters develop topics on fear, racism, sexism, war, weakness, love and forgiveness, but they do not contain the depth that such subjects should bring out. In other words, the material is a 20-something’s shallow story that does not have the benefit of maturity. The pages give the impression that the author is attempting to impress the reader with how many vulgar words he can squeeze onto a page.

FATHER BOYER, a priest for 38 years and an instructor in the Religious Studies Department of Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., for 26 years, is the author of 35 books primarily in the areas of biblical and liturgical spirituality. His latest book is Nature Spirituality: Praying with Wind, Water, Earth, Fire (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2013).