This is the second of a trilogy that tells the story of the 20th century. This book begins in 1933 with the beginning rise of the Nazi Party and ends with the Soviets testing their atomic bomb in 1949. The plot continues the stories of the five families and their now grown up children that the readers first met in [b:Fall of Giants|7315573|Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy #1)|Ken Follett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311704936s/7315573.jpg|8842841] (Link to my review
). The book follows American, British, German and Russian characters who seem to all have the knack of being present or in the general vicinity whenever and wherever momentous events occur.
This narrative provides a roots level (i.e. bottom up) perspective of historical events and is a refreshing break from reading nonfiction history that comes across much as distant events viewed through a telescope. This book provides a very personal human perspective that comes across much as multiple fictional soap opera plots draped around and through a nonfiction outline of 20th century history. This is literature written for the "popular" audience. Therefore it follows that it contains plenty of blood and sex; World War II provides the blood, and the soap opera part provides the other ingredient. In other words, the history story is up-close and real, but the sex is too explicit for my tastes.
It's a big book, so long that it the gives the reader the sensation of, through the magic of books, living through the 16 year era. That's the fun of historical fiction. It's a history that occurred before I was born and that leads up to and ends about the time I was three years old. Thus it provides me an insight into the world in which I was born.