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  • gilwilson 8:39 PM on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fascism, , , ken follett, nazi germany, , pearl harbor, , the century trilogy, winter of the world, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy” by Ken Follett 


    “Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy”
    by Ken Follett
    read by John Lee
    Published by Penguin Audio
    total playing time 31.5 hours

    Lately, I have found myself venturing into the unknown. That’s really not as ominous as it sounds, the unknown is what I am using to describe genres of books and audiobooks that I haven’t normally found interesting, therefore have skipped over. This time I decided it was time to dive into some historical fiction. Dive in I did, I took on a 31.5 hour Ken Follett novel about the events leading up to, during and immediately after World War II. I’m not sure what got into me to tackle such a large audiobook in a genre I would not normally give much attention, but here I am, grateful that I did.

    To make matters worse, I jumped into this audiobook knowing it was part two of a trilogy. “The Century Trilogy,” by Follett, follows five interrelated families throughout the 20th Century. I figured that since this was historical fiction and many of the events are well known, I wouldn’t have a problem jumping in. I was right, but at the same time I now want to go back and listen to or read the first book, “Fall of Giants.” So if you are wondering if you can just jump on in the middle, the answer is yes, but it will leave you wanting more. So until the third book is released the first one can be at the ready.

    One of the aspects of this audiobook that kept me listening was the narrator, John Lee. Lee’s voice is a unique voice that when needed was able to bend and stretch around the voices of the many characters and accents which brought this book to life. Being a bit of a nerd, I immediately recognized Lee’s voice as that of Cogliostro from the “Spawn” animated series, and being a huge fan of the “Spawn” comic books I just couldn’t not listen to Cogliostro talk about World War II. The nerd in me made me listen at first, but the excellent vocal control of the many characters kept me involved in the book.

    This story follows five interrelated families located around the world; Buffalo, NY, Washington, D.C, Germany, England and the U.S.S.R. as Adolph Hitler and his fascist regime rises to power and leads the war in Europe. The book also takes us to the Pacific Theatre of the war with first the bombing of Pearl Harbor to some great sea battles in the Pacific and eventually to the development and deployment of the Atomic bombs in Japan.

    Through the lives of the families involved, the listener/reader learns of the many atrocities of the Nazis, including Aktion T-4 where the mentally handicapped were executed because they were a burden on the state. Also thrown in are some stories involving espionage, helping prisoners of war escape and even a few love stories thrown in. Basically, it’s a real life look at what happens to individuals during war time.

    Ken Follett’s prose created a story that kept me glued to this audiobook for the full 31.5 hours. I have to admit, there were my weak moments within the first few hours where I was tempted to stop listening but the events and relationships between the characters just sucked me end and before I knew it the war was nearly over and the world was beginning to recover. The nice thing about the ending is that the development of the characters and relationships led to what will be, I’m sure, a big part of the next book in the trilogy, race relations, civil rights and more.

  • gilwilson 10:08 PM on July 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , broken glass, David Dukes, , Jane Brucker, , , John Vickery, , , , Linda Purl, nazi germany, , paralysis, ,   

    “Broken Glass” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Broken Glass”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Jane Brucker, David Dukes, Lawrence Pressman, Linda Purl, John Vickery and JoBeth Williams.
    Approx 2 hours

    This play marks a bittersweet moment for me, in that it is the last performance in “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works. Bitter, because it is the last one and sweet, because after listening to these ten plays I can pretty much consider myself a scholar of Arthur Miller.

    While getting my degree in Theatre, I had the opportunity to study Arthur Miller, but L.A. Theatre Works’ performances are all top-notch. These performances are produced for audio in such a way that puts the listener in the middle of the audience, aurally. While I know well that theatre is a visual art as well, the words make the difference and when they are performed so well the visuals are just icing on the cake. L.A. Theatre Works productions are all icing and cake with great acting, subtle, yet effective, sound effects and great music that fit the settings of the plays.

    “Broken Glass” is set in 1938, and this psychological mystery begins when Sylvia Gellburg suddenly loses her ability to walk. Her husband is worried about the woman he adores and seeks help from the neighborhood doctor. After consulting with another doctor, Dr. Hyman cannot find any physical reason for her paralysis. The only clue lies in Sylvia’s obsession with news accounts from Germany where old men are being forced to clean the sidewalks with toothbrushes. Though she is safe in Brooklyn, Sylvia is terrified by Nazi violence, or is it something closer to home? It is up to Dr. Hyman to find the solution.

    Mr. Gellburg, in a way, also becomes the patient of Dr. Hyman as Mrs. Gellburg’s diagnosis is revealed to be hysterical paralysis. Mr. Gellberg is appalled at the idea that it is all in her head.

    Dr. Hyman learns that Mr. Gellburg goes out of his way at times to deny he is a Jew and other times to use being a Jew in his favor. This has created a fear in Mrs. Gellburg that is comes out even more as she reads newspaper stories or hears radio reports about the torture of the Jews. What it all comes down to is that the choices made whether you accept what is given or you make a stand for what you believe is the turning point in life and what you do determines who you are.

    A nice play and a very nice performance, that is well worth the time, money and effort to put into your listening list.

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