The title of Ken Follett’s new book about life during World War II, Winter of the World, is quite literal. “The triumph of Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union and Hitler’s regime in Central Europe was a bloody tragedy for the human race. The keynote of that whole period was the struggle against the worst tyranny the world had ever known,” he says. “The title Winter of the World perfectly captured the notion that my characters are desperately trying to survive a bigger kind of winter—one whose storms include Stalin’s purges and Hitler’s holocaust.”
Winter, the second in his Century Trilogy, follows five families (American, English, Welsh, Russian, and German) introduced in Fall of Giants as they enter the tumultuous world of the 1930s and ’40s. “I thought of the twentieth century,” Follett says, “the most dramatic and bloodthirsty century in history of the human race; an ongoing drama of war against oppressive regimes and of people struggling for independence. It’s a thrilling story and it’s our story, one that has touched us all either directly or through our parents and grandparents.” Below, Ken Follett discusses the challenges behind writing about WWII:
Ken Follett and Charles Osgood will be discussing Winter of the World at the New-York Historical Society on September 18. It will be followed by Follett’s only book signing for Winter of the World in the US.