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Fall of Giants | [Ken Follett]

Fall of Giants

A huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women. It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London.
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Publisher's Summary

A huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.

It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to immigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, FALL OF GIANTS moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

©2010 Ken Follett (P)2010 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Richard Bicester, United Kingdom 25/08/2011
    Richard Bicester, United Kingdom 25/08/2011 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic"

    Probably the best audio book I have ever downloaded. The narrator is brilliant at keeping the book alive with good accents for different characters. The story itself is also great, i didn’t know too much about this period and almost nothing about the Bolsheviks in Russia but this novel takes you through it on a level at which anyone could relate to the experiences of the characters.

    Funny, thrilling, interesting and educational.

    Write another one please!

    28 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank 14/09/2011
    Frank 14/09/2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a discovery"

    I have found this an absolutely absorbing listen, and have even found myself drawn to listen to another chapter at times outside my normal listening schedule. It has encouraged me to purchase a further two of the author's books as I had not listened or read any of his books before.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy 23/09/2011
    Amy 23/09/2011 Member Since 2011
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    "Brilliant"

    Gripping novel which kept me hooked! I think this has helped me understand the causes and the length of World War 1 more than any history lesson ever did at school. I really hope Ken Follett follows it up with a sequel as the characters were so realistic and would love to know how their lives evolve....maybe during World War 2? Would recommend unreservedly!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirstine Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom 23/04/2014
    Kirstine Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom 23/04/2014 Member Since 2007
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    "A superb historical novel"

    There are many novels based on the impact of the First World War on peoples’ lives but none better than this book. The factual content is an excellent analysis of how countries slipped into what turned out to be a disaster and a salutary reminder of how hubris and stupidity can change the course of history. Where this book scores over a straight historical account of the period is that the author creates such engaging characters who are deftly inserted into this tumultuous period of world history whose fates become personally important and whose imaginary lives illustrate forcefully the impact of the war on all strata of society, on women and countries across the world. The book isn’t jingoistic in that there are sympathetic characters as well rogues and autocrats from both sides of the conflict though there is more sympathy for the ordinary people than for those with influence over events.
    I was engrossed for over 30 hours by superb story-telling, excellently narrated, and will be downloading the next part, Winter of the World, as my next listen.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clive Tadley, United Kingdom 13/10/2011
    Clive Tadley, United Kingdom 13/10/2011
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    "An interesting piece of social history"

    I learnt a lot about the class system in the early 20th century and the reasons for the first world war. The book follows five families: Welsh miners, English aristocracy, German Aristocracy, American upper class and Russian peasants. The story is well woven together, slow at times but enough to keep you interested at all times. I found the book thought provoking and was left wondering why we did not have a revolution in the UK after WW1. Maybe if we had 90% of the wealth would not be with 10% of the people as it is in the early 21st century. (My age group 50-60).

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale Aylesbury, United Kingdom 26/09/2011
    Dale Aylesbury, United Kingdom 26/09/2011 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent!!"

    I was engulfed in the story from the start when a 13 year old boy starts work in the welsh coal mine. From here it seamlessly moves around linking 5 different families and follows their lives before, during and after the first world war. This is probably the longest novel I have read (listened to!!) but possibly the best to date. I couldn't wait to listen to the next installment and I'm afraid to admit that my household chores have suffered a bit due to this book. I loved it!! I hope you do too.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stuart Leicester, United Kingdom 21/09/2011
    Stuart Leicester, United Kingdom 21/09/2011 Member Since 2010
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    "Follett at his best..."

    I loved this book, it really gripped me. Written in Follett's usual well paced style with strong female characters (who he always has in his stories) the whole book was just so interesting to me as I knew so little about the era. of course Follett shows us the horrors of war but the idea to depict it back "back home" with all the telegrams from the losses at the Somme arriving all at once was genius. Really moving. Can't wait for the other two sequels. John Lee does his usual great job in the narrators chair and is never pedestrian.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Wiltshire, England 23/02/2012
    Philip Wiltshire, England 23/02/2012 Member Since 2008
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    "Inspirational"

    A fantastic view of the political and emotional battles in the early 20th Century. Before reading this book if someone had asked me why the First World War was fought, I would have answered "something about an assassination of an Austrian Arch Duke". Now I know the reality, and having always found history books boring, this is brilliant. The characters are wonderfully interwoven with real historical people, that brings this very relevant story to life.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Liestal, Switzerland 02/01/2012
    Kim Liestal, Switzerland 02/01/2012 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An absolute must"

    Mr Follett has done it again, a brilliant mixture of facts and fiction, believable characters and an exciting stroyline. I will admit that I did struggle at the beginning, the narrator spoke rather fast and I had to get used to the different accents pretty quickly to be able to keep up but once I did I couldn't stop listening. I am an avid reader and I will read the book as well... yes, it's that good!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian By Larkhall, United Kingdom 04/10/2011
    Gillian By Larkhall, United Kingdom 04/10/2011 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fall of Giants"

    Ken Follet at his best, well written with fantastic plot and great characters. I cant wait for his next block buster.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 102 results PREVIOUS1211NEXT
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  • S. R. Gibb
    New Zealand
    04/09/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disapointing"

    I really wanted to like this book. I have been a keen student of 20th century history since high school, 40 years ago.

    Alas I found myself unable to really engage with the characters, finding them rather cardboard cutout. I could not help feeling that each was created purely to act as a vehicle to show key historical moments and most of the conversations they had, tended to give us lengthy history lessons. The fact that they seemed to somehow turn up at key points of world events of the time, I found clunky.
    The book is redeemed to an extent by some great descriptions, the delivery of casulty telegrams being one good scene.
    Overall, while i have no argument with the accuracy of the events portrayed, I feel that Mr Follet may have been better to have reduced the scope of the epic and used history as a background to the characters lives rather than awkwardly dropping them into each significant event. Not a book I could immerse myself in, rather, I skipped along the top, unable to find a way in

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Rev. Kate
    Penrith, Australia
    27/11/11
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    "Powerful work; exceptional & gripping adventure."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This audiobook is worth every cent and every second. I would very happily recommend this book to family and friends.A masterful piece.


    What other book might you compare Fall of Giants to and why?

    Ken Follett is an outstanding author. Yet, I find it very hard to compare one skilled writer's work with other skilled writer's work, even of the same genre, as their styles often differ quite dramatically... and so attempting to compare their work is a bit like debating which is the best type of friut.I can, however, state that there is no better wordsmith for his standard and style of work. The way he keeps your attention from start to finish, never under nor overstating life and it's bare,sometimes brutual, sometimes sensual, but always honest realities. He just weaves you into the lives of his characters and never lets you breath until he's finished.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not heard John Lee's performance before, but his reading style is personable and clever. His interpretation of humour is simple and real, and his ability to hold your utter attention in dramatic moments is highly skilled. Brilliant performance... and I will be pleased to listen to any of his other readings.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I certainly laughed at times. And, I was certainly provoked to deep consideration of incidents and experiences, astonishment for the intricate manipulations of the war machine of the early 20th century, disgust for the polarised standards of rights and responsibilities, and I was prompted to empathy,sadness and even tears for the distainful attitude of negligence for life.


    Any additional comments?

    Brilliant work. Exceptional story. Plot and networking to real events was outstanding. An utter pleasure that I was sad to finish. A clever, highly skilled work that will stay with listener for some time... Superb!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • mr
    altrincham, United Kingdom
    17/02/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bit overambitious1"

    This is an enormous book. It tells the story of 5 different families in the years from 1910 to 1924. The research involved must have been immense and the book is almost successful. Perhaps this should be two books because I felt that the different stories all lost dynamism in cutting from one to the other. Nonetheless this is what might be called a 'jolly good read'.

    I felt that the writing about the fighting on the Somme, the leading up to it and the reasons for it's dreadful body count were among the best I have read.

    The audible version was rather spoilt for me by the reader who attempted numerous accents with varying degrees of success. I also cannot see why a German or Russian needs to speak with a strong German or Russian accent if he is speaking in his native tongue.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jane
    Darwin, Australia
    26/11/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling"

    This was a book really worth listening to. Not only was this due to Follett's strong narrative skills but because it was read by John Lee: he read with calm objectivity which linked his outstanding management of the many voices and the accents ??? wonderful acting.

    This is an interpretation of the major events of one hundred years ago ??? the causes and the conduct of the first world war, rise of the Bolsheviks, the Versailles treaty and unionism, amongst many compelling themes. Follett demonstrates the human tragedy, the waste and pointlessness of war, the foibles and careless decisions of many of the leaders, both military and industrial (leaders coming from the so called ruling classes), the fights for women's rights. He clearly shows where he feels the seeds for future wars were laid.

    And all this is very human as he interlaces stories of the personal lives of interesting characters.

    So, one hundred years later, what have we achieved from the hell of the battle of the Somme? It was not easy to watch the news and ask whether the modern decisions of giants, the desperate current revolutions are just mirror images of the limits to humanity that Follett presents.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Karen
    pinjarra, Australia
    22/11/11
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    "A story to get totally lost in!"
    Would you listen to Fall of Giants again? Why?

    Yes absolutely!! Fall of Giants is compulsive listening. I got so involved in the characters lives, loves and losses. A great insight to the different classes of the time and how war impacts on them. Love Ken Follett books - this is the third novel I've listened to.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I love this narrator! I so enjoy listening to him, he has wonderful tone and a beautiful accent and he reads at the right pace - not too slow, not too fast, and I was able to absorb the story fully. He can switch accents several times in one sentence - amazing, and brings the characters to life! I actually look for books that are read by John Lee now.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alvaro Z
    Brazil
    25/05/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "As always, Ken Follet keeps you totally absorbed"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    For people who like long books and complex plots, as well as a great history background, this is the one! Involving, interesting characters, most well explained historic events, makes you feel like time travel while participating in the lives of the different families, throughout Europe.


    Any additional comments?

    Just waiting for the third volume!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Matteo Lombardi
    Barcelona, Spain
    17/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book, not incredibly exiting though"

    I loved the book because it helped me understand history by passing it thru the caracters stories. Its not an incredibly exiting book, and is not as good as Pillars of the Earth, but I loved reading it. its caracters as always display all sorts of emotions, and there are some sex scenes. If you like Ken Follet and history, you will like this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    Kinglake, Australia
    04/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superbly read!"
    Would you listen to Fall of Giants again? Why?

    Yes. John Lee's reading takes me into the story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I loved Eth. Her ability to rise above mysogisistic jibes. A woman before her time.


    Any additional comments?

    A great story, with a good smattering of history to educate us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Douglas
    Cooloongup, Australia
    11/06/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ken Follett - Fall of Giants"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this Audio book to anybody, it is an amazing book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Fall of Giants?

    The understanding I got from the history of the 20th Century, the motivations of actions that shook the world of my grandparents, described in a way that I could believe and understand.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    I would choose another book read by John Lee, if it was a choice between him and anyone else. Some less than kind comments have been made previously. They are not what I have found.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This is a huge book, as are most of Ken Folletts books, which are particularly suited to audiobooks, due to the size, reading of a book of this length would take forever, and I probably would get sidetracked by something else before i finished.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Judith
    Australia
    18/05/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "fantastic reading"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The story is one of fiction wrapped amongst fact. The ability to read a story immersed in a great plot but at the same time learning fact is delightful and entertaining


    What did you like best about this story?

    The reader was amazing his ability to speak with authentic accents Welsh, Russian, Cockney,American,Upper class English, he could switch from one to the other easily . It made the story really come to life. The plot is interesting and engaging . I spent many nights until the early hours listening when I should have been sleeping.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 25 results PREVIOUS123NEXT

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