I can't imagine the work that went into developing this storyline and these characters. The audio book version is wonderful, Kevin Pariseau has an easy to listen to manner which is a good thing given the length of the this and the follow-on book (War and Remembrance). I am in awe of the level of detail Herman Wouk delves into brining out the pre-WW II America and Europe.
My favorite genre of books is historical fiction. This book does not disappoint - it holds its own with the very best. And, of course, you can't stop with just this book. You have to go on to finish the story with "War and Remembrance".
Compelling, incredible, addictive
New York, A Novel
I am now listening to the follow up book, War & Remembrance, and even though it's 56 hours long I am already dreading that it will have to end. I have come to admire and care for the characters and can't say enough about both the writing and the narration. This book educates you about all of the little things that went on around the world while World War II was raging but before the US entered the fray. If you enjoy history you will love this book. If you enjoy great writing you will love this book. If you enjoy compelling characters you will love this book. In short YOU will love this book..unless you have a very short attention span.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
It is not my favorite, but I think it is very memorable in a positive way.
Descriptions of the early takeover of Warsaw--the characters move through it in a way that brings the intensity (and the horrors) of the war very much alive--even while keeping a moving and engaging human story going that did not sentimentalize any of the circumstances but gave a much greater sense of what that event must have been like. The compelling story is one that left me feeling I had a far deeper understanding of factors that led into, and sustained, the war.
Pug Henry--the man of many roles (military, family, advisor to a president, historian). His character held the entire book together. The book is about the very human side of war--which is often seen in an abstract way--one in which each character is developed along lines that demonstrated their understandings of what was occurring, what they were doing, from a perspective that made sense to them at the time. Pug Henry is the character who seems most able to have a view of most of those perspectives--even though he does not, himself, embrace each one.
There were many--literature of tells stories about people who live through a war, but in this book, the war itself seemed to have its own voice. (The book interweaves Pug Henry's "translation" of a German's account of the war into english--something he works on through the book--which provides an insight into the war that almost creates the war as one of the characters and tends to hold the different facets together).
I do not often choose to read/listen to books about wars. However, this one was exceptional in the way it told a story of humans trying to make sense of themselves and what was happening around them, and was also a great historical learning experience.
Wherever we come from, we tend to learn history from the perspective of those who want to impress us with a particular viewpoint. What I found so interesting in this one was that Wouk chose to create characters who displayed a variety of mindsets and beliefs--so that one could see various people as having (what to them were valid points of view) even though they conflicted with each other.
It was a reminder that people have many ways of justifying all kinds of things to themselves and even have difficulty understanding why others don't agree with them. There was a great effort here to portray ordinary people who were led into horrendous acts--not all at once, but by little adjustments of thinking and activities--till they were caught up in actions they probably would never have performed earlier in their lives. Very good insight into group (or mob) psychology.
And also, it seems to show that despite a huge and unthinkable atrocity occurring, people can be so caught up in their own lives that they compartmentalize what is happening. Perhaps because they would find it too overwhelming to take in, perhaps because the war was of such enormous scope that many could not understand it all--but Wouk also was drawing some characters who, in their great humanness, just didn't live far beyond their personal concerns. (This seemed exemplified in Pug Henry's wife).
This was a book I read as a young adult in the 70's. Listening to the book again after 40 years was like getting back in touch with a long lost friend.
Historical fiction with great characters.
Not good enough.The narration was OK, but there are so many narrators that are better than OK. I very seldom get bored with narration, but I did in this case.
It is hard to fathom the amount of research that went into this book. I have a moderate professional's knowledge of the period and was struck over and over by the way Wouk wove real events and real people into a wonderful story that managed to give insight into a period and some fascinating people. The narration was better than I had thought possible. Actually, narration s not the word for this - it was an outstanding theatrical performance. I became so used to the vocal characterizations that I accepted that it was the character speaking. Age, ethnicity, personal style, all were captured in the voices used by the narrator.I had read this book thirty years ago and had liked it but listening to it was a far more engrossing experience.
If I were asked to say what are my favorite three books of the hundred or so I have listened to, I would include this and the sequel, Winds of War. Everything I have said about this book I could say about Winds of War also.
Second time around for me for this book. Great novel, great story, historically accurate in my mind. In the past year I have finished Churchiill memoirs on WWII and just finished the Rise and Fall of the Third Riech prior to starting Winds of War. Wouk is amazing in the way that he weaves his story telling ability with his knowledge of the the US Navy and the events leading up to WWII. As a WWII veteran who was a teenager as Hitler came to power, he does a great job of capturing the attitudes and perspectives of the times.
45 hrs makes this the ideal book for long road trips, you will definitely find yourself identifying with one of the characters, it is hard not too.
Absolutely it's just wonderful. I am catching up with all my favourite books and finding new ones.
It makes the books three dimensional
Nothing....it's just brilliant
He makes the characters believable. People you wanted to learn about and even meet.
I have learnt so much about this period fom so many different perspectives.
I was educated into oblivion but have overcome it and am having a wonderful life
Absolutely. You learn WW2 history through the eyes of Victor Henry, a fine man of good character. Also great insight into the German General's (Ruhn) perspective. You care about the character's lives and are drawn to care deeply about what happened in WW2
Natalie finally boiling over at her uncle's selfishness--yet, without hatred she continues to care for him and respect him.
Pug Henry was a fine man who I'd respect and would like to know. Natalie, because she was a caring person surrounded by egomaniacs -- and even though she sometimes seemed that she could irretrievably become one of them herself, you see her turning into a very fine sensitive young woman as the book comes to a close.
It was so engrossing that I hoped that after getting through it I'd find a reason to put the whole thing aside and not read the next book "War and Remembrance"... alas, I care too much about Pug and Natalie... and maybe Warren and Madelyn.... to not plow into the next book. Thankfully, I know who won the war.
Looking forward to learning about the US's war years in WW2 through the next book War and Remembrance.
I had seen a part of the miniseries quite a few years (decades?) ago and found it interesting but never thought about reading the book. A few weeks ago, I noticed the book here and thought I would give it a try and I'm glad I did. The story was highly entertaining, the characters interesting, and the performance was excellent. I bought the follow on book "War and Rememberance" shortly after starting this book. If you love a great story with characters you care about, buy this book.