Title: Fall of Giants
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 2010
Spoiler Alert: Not really
If one calculates a good book by how much reading time one gets for the money, then Ken Follett novels really rate at the top. And this one, Fall of Giants, had me mesmerized for a week (29 hours of reading time according to Kobo).
The story winds around four families: the rich aristocratic Brit, owner of a mine in Wales and his sister the Suffragette; a mining family, the father a union activist, daughter a servant at the nobleman’s house and her brother, a miner-become-soldier. Then there are the Russians – two brothers who complicate each other’s lives in unimaginable ways; the German aristocrats and a family of Washington elites. Although worlds apart, their stories weave together like a tight-knit tapestry.
Set during the decade of the Great War from 1911 to the early 1920s, the story delves into every aspect of the war – from the poor peasants, to the German soldiers, to the Russian front, and to the Americans – each with their own set of circumstances. But what really sets it apart from other rambles about the war is Follett’s ability to bring us right into the homes, boardrooms and bedrooms of his characters and into an era of class system and female subjugation. While keeping close to the facts, with a good sprinkling of real historical characters, the writer provides a real taste of what it must have been like to be a Welsh miner, a Russian peasant, or one so immersed in bondage to tradition that they allow it to bury their own humanity.
The only things I can’t figure out are: how did Follett not take an entire lifetime to write it and how could he not have spent an entire lifetime living it?
What a story! Nothing I have ever read before has made me change my political views more than this story. And maybe it was about time. Continue reading