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Memories of a terrible war

Rama Chatterjee of Kalikapur remembers shiploads of Bengalis coming from a bombed-out Rangoon to the jetty near her home in Chittagong, now in Bangladesh. She remembers sirens and lal-mukho (red-faced) American soldiers near her school and having to leave home for fear of bombs.

“It was 1942-43. I was in Class II or III then. We had a three-storeyed house where my jethamoshai (father’s elder brother) gave shelter to refugees. But we had to leave our home and it was taken over by British soldiers till the war ended,” said the former schoolteacher, now 80.

Grannies and grandpas across the world have many such memories of the most devastating war the world has seen, one that stretched from 1939 to 1945. World War II forms the backdrop of bestselling writer Ken Follett’s latest novel — Winter of the World (Pan Macmillan India, Rs 399), which is the second title in his ambitious Century trilogy.

To mark the launch, Pan Macmillan has created a digital storybank where Follett fans can share their families’ experiences of living through the war — of bomb and blackouts, rationing and conscription, death and destruction, but also compassion and courage. To share your family’s story, log on to Ken Follett’s page on Facebook and upload it on to the map-based app (www.facebook.com/KenFollettAuthor/app_151794218291946).

Penguin, which publishes Ken Follett in the US, is also on board for the WotW storybank, giving the initiative a global reach. A selection of stories will be published in a Winter of the World spin-off e-book in 2013 and the profits will be donated to charity. The app also allows some lucky fans to win exclusive material from the book, including signed mini-samplers, framed cover prints and limited-edition proofs.

Explaining why he chose to write a trilogy based in the last century, Follett told t2 from London: “It is the most dramatic century in the history of the human race... there were two terrible wars in which millions of people were killed. And it’s also the story of where we all came from. But I realised that it couldn’t be done in one book, it had to be three.”

If Book 1, Fall of Giants, revolved around five families facing World War I, Winter of the World “is based on the Second World War and events leading up to the war and the events after it. The characters are the children of the main characters in Fall of Giants,” Follett added.

Readers who pick up the Pan Macmillan edition of the book also get a chance to win book hampers of up to Rs 10,000.

For details visit www.facebook.com/PanMacmillanIndia/app_208195102528120.