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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: The Fall of Giants

After reading The Pillars of The Earth, I went back to the library and placed a hold on The Fall of Giants, to see if Follett was consistently book. I deliberately didn't read any reviews, as I didn't want to be biased.

To my surprise, The Fall of Giants is even better, and still compelling reading. It's a long novel but I plowed through it rapidly, not wanting to stop. The novel covers the events surrounding World War I, including the Bolshevik revolution, the rise of women's suffrage, and of course, the involvement of Germany, the United States, and Great Britain.

Now, I'd read enough history and even literature (nobody's ever allowed to skip Animal Farm or Wilfred Owen) to know at an abstract level what happened during those years, but Follett manages to make it personal, and in doing so, create empathy for the common people who were caught up in those historic events. By doing so, he enables a deeper understanding of why events unfolded during that period the way they did.

In particular, by the end of the novel, Follett had gotten me to care about  Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which was something that had horribly bored me in history classes (and which I'd never cared very much about. That's a considerable achievement.

Now, in order to get such a wide ranging set of people's narratives to tie together, Follett had to include some fairly improbable events (though as a novelist he's great at ensuring that the characters' motivations are consistent). But that's easily forgiven in a novel with such great scope.

This novel's a great achievement, and did far more for my understanding of those events far more than both my history and literature classes in school. Highly recommended. Needless to say, I'm ready to keep going and read the next novel in the series.

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