Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ken Follett's Fall of Giants: A Review, Part II

In the first part of this review, I discussed the numerous historical errors that Ken Follett makes in his novel about World War I. This author tortures and murders facts of history with a terrifying abandon. By the end of this very long book, I thought that nothing else could possibly shock me until I encountered a description of "surly Russians" engaging in group sex in broad daylight in the streets of Petrograd. And then engaging in more public sex with children.

However, Follett's complete disregard for historical facts is not the only problem with this book. His entire understanding of important events in history is extremely limited and often naive. In Fall of Giants, World War I and the two Russian revolutions are a result of backroom deals between inept diplomats and bored society ladies.

''On or about December 1910 human character changed,'' Virginia Woolf once said. Since then, volumes have been written on the profound ideological shift that was caused by the advent of Modernity. The unwieldy, otdated empires of the Romanovs, the Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns could not adapt to these radical transformations and had to plunge into suicidal warfare, social unrest, and revolutions. Follett's grave intellectual limitations (and what else can be said about someone who relies as much as he does on silly cultural stereotypes?) prevent him from realizing that the events he describes are too important to be addressed in a superficial manner. This writer is, unfortunately, too self-assured and condescending to consult the existing body of scholarship on the events of 1914-1919.

I do not recommend this book to anybody. Not only will you not learn any reliable information about this period in history, you will not even have a good time. If the first part of the book is at least marginally entertaining, the second half of it is excruciatingly boring, long-winded and extremely repetitive.


Ashley Brown said...

I agree with all your comments. Also, I can't understand why Follett's so obsessed with the tearing of women's hymens.

Katie said...

I agree with Ashley. ALSO, how come EVERY SINGLE WOMAN gets pregnant the first time she has sex? Seriously. -.-

stezis said...

Interesting what people think. But then this is about art, and novels fall IMO into this category. I am not a historian so maybe the errors slipped my attention. I highly enjoyed the read of this and waiting eagerly for part 2 (and 3). Follett is one of my favorites, amongst others.
What do you expect from a novel, to learn something new? or to amuse yourself? enjoy?
Well, I did.
There are other books which are worse, but who cares... :-)
Cheers from cold old Germany.