I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
Someone wrote that the book was dated... I'm not sure how that applies to a book written in 1971 about the beginning of WWII, dialog, attitudes and most especially gender roles were different. I was born in the late sixties and did not find it to be dated.
This was an excellent story full of detail and history, mostly accurate with a little poetic license. It brought home the reality that although the means of war change with technology, the fact of war is never as simple as good versus evil. The winners write the history books. There is much evil in the world, but sometimes we don't take action because of, maybe despite it.
Even for a non politico like me, the book was engrossing. Excellent narration.
I seem to fit in the same demographic as many other reviewers of this book. I first read it about 40 years ago when it was released and then saw the made-for-TV movie. In the intervening years I had forgotten how well Herman Wouk wrote (as of today he is still alive but no longer writing) and how well drawn and compelling the main characters of the book are.
The story, of course, is that of a naval family drawn into the start of World War II up to the point of America's entry into the war. As a vehicle for telling the story of the period up to the Pearl Harbor attack the main character, "Pug" Henry, ends up being assigned to posts that have him, or members of his family, at important places during important times. Thus we get to see vignettes of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joesph Stalin and Adolph Hitler as well as those around all of them.
The characters are compelling, the events were real, the story well-drawn and important and the family large enough to have members scattered around the globe and seeing events from many different perspectives. This is a first class book, extremely well read and highly recommended.
I love epic histories that follow families over a period of time, and this one was exceptionable.
Definitely Victor Henry. But the narrator did an excellent job with all the characters, especially since there were so many different accents involved.
I was on pins and needles to see who would make it through Pearl Harbor.
This book covers the events leading up to the United States involvement in WWII. It is not dry history. Although some historical narrative is necessary to provide the backdrop to what the characters are going through, the author handles it with a unique method that makes it much more interesting.
I am going to jump the gun here, because I have not yet listened to this, but I recommended it to Audible some time back, and I am thrilled that it is now available. I am writing this review early, because I want to encourage Audible listeners to purchase it immediately. This book and its sequel, "War and Remembrance," are stunning works of historical fiction. I very much hope Audible is preparing the sequel. Thank you, Audible, for listening to your customers!
This is very well done and is a classic and is narrated by Kevin Pariseau. This is a good one for only 1 credit!
I found myself looking for jobs that would let me plug in my earbuds to listen to this book. It captures the period and the narrator gives the characters depth
I read this when it came out. For years, I gave this book with War and Remembrance as gifts and never came across anyone who didn't share my love of this story.
The history is fascinating, though it definitely has a point of view and you may disagree with some interpretation of events.
The narrator does a great job. When I first started, I felt he didn't get Pug right, but as I went along, I warmed to his interpretation.
I can't recommend this enough, it is worthy of six stars in every category.
I read this book years ago when my eyesight was still good enough to read. The story is as good as I remember and the performance by the narrotor is great!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
At over 100 hours, this audiobook and its sequel are a commitment, a 20th century War and Peace. Over 2000 pages, Herman Wouk spins both a family saga and a sort of “bearing witness” document, a detailed history of World War Two that leaves no one excused for humanity’s greatest calamity (so far) and the many acts of blindness on both sides that allowed it to unfold as it did
The fictional narrative centers around an American naval family headed by one Victor “Pug” Henry, a stolid, unpretentious career officer of classic mold. Yearning for a battleship command, Victor is instead sent to be the US’s naval attache in 1939 Berlin, at a time well before most Americans had any desire to get embroiled in another European mess. Because of his thorough reports, Victor finds himself coming to the attention of FDR, who makes him a high-powered informal go-between. Meanwhile, Victor’s two sons have their own stories -- one training as a Navy pilot, while the other “finds himself” in Italy, where he gets involved with a Jewish author and his lovely, headstrong niece. These two, trapped in Europe, become significant viewpoint characters in their own right. Others enter the narrative, too, including Victor’s wife, who is beginning to chafe at the sacrifices of being a Navy wife, and his daughter, who takes a job at a NYC radio station. While most of the action happens behind the lines, we do get a few tastes of the shooting war.
Wouk’s style is a bit nostalgic, but the characters are well-written and credible. For all the contrivances in the plot -- such as Victor managing to meet Hitler, FDR, Churchill, *and* Stalin -- Wouk makes us believe that such path-crossings were plausible. Maybe one family wasn’t in so many places, but history did have plenty of small actors who played such roles. In any case, the small details of the characters’ thoughts and actions give events a full, living color. Sometimes Wouk pulls the camera back and explains in a clear, compelling way what was happening on the broader stage, which was a counterpoint that appealed to me, since the protagonists seldom have all the facts themselves. It’s to his credit that almost nothing feels irrelevant -- personalities and family lives seem to dovetail neatly into greater events and vice-versa.
No, Herman Wouk isn’t Tolstoy, but he’s certainly a writer with a strong grasp of the forces of history, gentle insight into human behavior, the ability to connect small-scale events with large ones, and a storyteller’s gift for putting it all in familiar terms, through the eyes of some memorable characters.
What pleased me most about this book, though, and a big reason for my enthusiastic recommendation, is its absence of simplistic rah-rah patriotism. Instead, Wouk soberly examines the causes of the war and the dangers of nationalism and ideology. He also notes the hypocrisies of British and American imperialism, and the self-absorbed apathy of both countries in the face of fascism’s self-image of surety. One of the most fascinating features of the novel is the inclusion of the memoirs of a German general, translated decades after the war by Pug himself. There’s a creepy familiarity to his critiques of the “decadent” West, and one begins to remember that evil is often rationalized away, sometime quite convincingly, by those who worship strength and power. This mattered at the time the author was writing, around the height of the Vietnam War, and it matters now.
Ultimately, this novel and its sequel are a rich mix of intimate and broad-scale human themes, 20th century history, and wistful nostalgia for a time when the American middle class family embodied all that was hopeful. Audiobook narrator Kevin Pariseau rises to the occasion, with some impressive imitations of certain famous figures, a range of accents, and a narration voice that has both friendliness and gravity. Put the sequel on standby, because you’ll want to know what happens next.