Winter of the World
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Fall of Giants by Ken Follett was about World War I and class struggles taking place all over Europe before, during and after that pivotal war. Winter of the World is the second volume in this same series. It covers the rise of Nazism in Germany, and the rise of Bolshevism in Russia, along with showing how the rest of Europe is grappling with feelings about fascism, communism and socialism. It also covers World War II.
Most people may know this history, but Ken Follett makes it fresh again by giving us characters we find interesting to give it added relevance. These volumes are long, that said, it is another superb book by the author, leaving the reader with a sense of high expectation that the third part of this trilogy will cover the fascinating political period of the Cold War.
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It is 1952, and Britain has taken a different direction; an alternative history prevails here. One that sees Britain allied with Germany, Churchill not Prime Minister but instead a wanted man who is relegated to leading the British Resistance movement, Britain having surrendered to Nazi Germany in the war that began in 1939 after only one year. The government consists of right-wing fascists, appeasers and businessmen. There are ‘Nazi fingers in every dark corner of the state.’ There is no freedom of the press or unions, and protestors to the regime are dealt with harshly by the cruel Auxiliary police. There are rumours that British Jews may be moved to detention camps soon.
The world is unrecognisable. Will British values survive? Will Britain follow the lead of Germany in the abhorrent treatment of Jews? There is such fear on the streets. People are encouraged to spy on their neighbours, to report any suspicious activity. Those in power control all the news reported on the radio, television and in the press.
Powerful themes run through this novel; most dominant are the divides of class, nationality, race and religion. A thrilling and astounding re-imagining of our recent past.
Emperor: The Blood of Gods
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Between 2003 and 2006, Conn Iggulden released a series of books about the life and times of Julius Caesar, all with the word ‘Emperor’ somewhere in the title. those books were: The Gates of Rome, The Death of Kings, The Field of Swords and The Gods of War.
After that last book, he then wrote a series on Genghis Khan, before returning to the Emperor series roughly seven years after the last with this entry.
The book opens immediately after the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, has been assassinated by a group of Senators who name themselves the liberators of Rome. From that moment onward, Roman history is laid bare by the actions of the Senate and the boy who returns to Rome in order to collect his inheritance. Octavian Caesar Augustus is not content to let the murderers of his beloved father enjoy their hastily awarded amnesty. They must face Roman justice and he will die trying to fulfil that oath. Joining forces with Mark Antony and other characters from Roman history, they seek out those hiding from retribution and attempt to deliver justice in any manner fitting.
The book is definitely a must read if you are a lover of tales concerning Ancient Rome or any of the players involved in the Caesar era.