Absolutely. It was a remarkable story brought to life by an amazing narrator. It seemed at the same time unhurried but relentless. This must be listened to after "Winds of War" so together it is a 100+ hour commitment, but it was tremendous. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about WWII and I learned a great deal about the conflict through that most ancient of human skills: storytelling. I look forward to listening to it again.
The way the narrative shifted between the different viewpoints - from a "God's Eye" view of the progress of the war to the more myopic German perspective to the personal American and Jewish experience. In hindsight it really is the only way to tell such a grand and terrible story.
His command of accents and cadence is amazing. He was always clear and easy to understand but it really put you in the thick of the action.
Listen to this book. It is well worth your time. In this age where we are losing 1000's of WWII vets every day this is perhaps one of the best ways to connect to that time.
Narrative makes the world go round.
Riveting storytelling of mostly well-balanced history, especially the parts that educate about the Holocaust. We learn best in narratives, and the soap opera elements enhance our learning here -- I found the personal stories a bit "soapier" than in Winds of War and some of the didactic parts not as well-integrated into the storyline - but I would not have Wouk change even one plot element. While it's not high art, it is the best in old fashioned story telling. As someone mostly interested in social history from a Commonwealth viewpoint, I never thought I'd find myself interested in the American involvement in the WWII Pacific theatre - but it was difficult to hit pause even for those parts.
I tried to save this listen for the holidays, but after devouring the Winds of War, I waited impatiently for this release, and then I couldn't postpone the listen. Another reason why audiobooks matter - making titles like this widely available and promoted.
Listen to about four audio books a months. Never without one.
Excellent book and story. Excellent narrator. Great character development. I love historical fiction and can't wait to read Herman Wouk's next book. I enjoyed the story and I learned so much at the same time. What a treat!
Telecommuter living outside of San Francisco, CA. I listen to books while walking my dog, quilting, and doing chores around the house.
This is a classic novel. Love the author and his careful research on the treatment of Jews during WWII.
Yes, but it's a long one!
A Book and a Cat: Nothing more
In the past month, I have waded through both Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I suppose preferences for narrators are highly personal, but I cannot understand any of the objections to Kevin Pariseau. I found his work delightful, with particular regard for the voice he assigns Pug Henry. With dozens of voices in an epic of this magnitude, Pariseau makes each character recognizably new.
The quality of Wouk's fiction is unimpeachable. The epilogue clarifies historical points and the specific points at which the fiction digresses from history. Within the genre of historical fiction, this work commands both respect and engagement of the reader.
This book, and the first, are enthralling works of literature - each character, each story line, each word - simply outstanding. The performer is as magnificent as the writer. Worth every minute.
This sprawling epic follows a group of fictional characters - a family - through a painstakingly researched recreation of the events leading up to the Second World War, in Winds of War, the first volume, and up through the end of the war in the second volume, War and Remembrance. The historical sequence, the actions of world leaders, and the events of the war are detailed and factual, but the main characters and their places in those events are fictional. It's a brilliant device to bring the history we think we know to life, and grounds momentous events in the humanity of individuals trying to cope with the total upheaval of a worldwide conflict and the unimaginable horror of events like the rise of Hitler, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Atomic Bomb, and the Holocaust.
The Audible production is truly a masterful interpretation of a masterwork, primarily due to the monumental work of Kevin Pariseau. He handles a huge cast of characters, with a m??lange of accents - Russian, British, German, Yiddish, Italian, French, several American dialects, and more - with convincing ease, but it was the singing as multiple characters that put the icing on it for me. When Udom sang to the crowd at Theresienstadt before being sent off on the train to Auschwitz, it tore my heart out.
I read these books to gain a deeper grasp of my father's generation, of the sacrifices they made, and of the events that shaped their world view. I came away with so much more than that. My faith in humanity was restored.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I've already written a review of the Winds of War, the first half of this marathon two-part historical drama. War and Remembrance picks up right where that one left off, shortly after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Now, the US is fully in the Second World War, and Victor, Warren, and Byron all see action in the Pacific. Meanwhile, Byron's Jewish wife, Natalie, is trapped in fascist Italy, where a series of misjudgements and bureaucratic tangles have blocked the escape of her and her uncle. And there are a few other dramas, involving characters we'd met before, such as Leslie Slote and Pamela Tudsbury.
As in the previous book, Wouk masterfully illustrates how the war unfolded and how it looked to the Allies, with the much-pounded British grasping the full urgency of the situation while America was only beginning to get into gear. His overview of the politics and fighting takes into account the bumbling mistakes made by both sides, and the many opportunities the Axis powers had to achieve some devastating victories, on top of those they'd already had over the dithering Allies. If Wouk's narrative is to be believed, the fate of nations can turn on a single faulty report from a scout plane or a lucky accident of timing.
Compared to the first book, there are more scenes of battle and combat, which are well-written. There’s a subplot concerning the development of the atomic bomb, involving Rhoda’s lover, Palmer Kirby. We can see the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union on the horizon. There’s more from the fictional German general, Armin von Ruhn, whose cerebral apologism for fascism becomes ever more disquieting, considering that his views don’t seem all that far off from those held by present-day right-wing groups, though his analysis of the war remains compelling. And there’s a subplot that exposes the horrors of the Holocaust, through both the eyes of a Jewish character interned in Auschwitz and the chillingly mechanical viewpoint of the camp’s commandant.
If the plot turns are a little more soap opera-like, with the main characters getting into drawn-out dramas and crossing paths strangely often, they’re still absorbing. Through the storyline involving Natalie, her uncle, Aaron, and her friend Leslie, it becomes easy to see how Holocaust denial paralyzed much of the civilized world, which wanted to believe that the terrible stories were mostly just propaganda by people with an agenda (I couldn’t help but think of climate change deniers). The two Jews, as they struggle to find an out, get ever more inexorably trapped in the Nazi web, ending up in the sham showcase ghetto of Theresienstadt, and these desperate scenes are gripping.
Both this novel and the Winds of War should really be thought of as one long work, though not everyone will want to power straight through both of them in sequence, as I did. As before, my compliments to Kevin Pariseau for his spoken performance. When I at last reached the final page, while biking along a lake in Massachusetts, I felt that I’d completed a real journey across eight profoundly world-changing years of history. Through the sheer scale, vision, energy, investment in storytelling, and deeper truth-seeking of his drama, Wouk has left a work for the ages.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
Herman Wouk and Kevin Pariseau are simply an unbeatable combo. They combined to make this the best listening experience I've had in my five years with Audible.
I must add that you need to read Winds of War first, as that is part one of the story/history. I chose to read these books in my ongoing attempt to try to comprehend how a monster such as Hitler could have arisen and caused so much carnage. I shutter to think that if I or my family lived in Europe during his reign, we would likely have been eradicated, too. I previously read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I hoped that reading Wouk's books would give me a different perspective on how individual lives were affected.
Wouk's characters were wonderfully developed and acted in believable ways. I really cared what happened to them. I enjoyed how he interwove the individual stories, particularly the way he quoted from books purported to be written at the time (Von Roon and Jastro.) While this is considered historical fiction, the historical parts are true to what happened with most of the major players in the war. This is all explained by the author after the ending of the book.
Kevin Pariseau surpassed anything I have experienced from a narrator. I could immediately tell which character was speaking and it seemed, he never slipped up. He added so much to the telling of this story. I never felt the book lagged or slowed down. I savored every moment of this listening experience.
I would highly recommend this book (and Winds of War) to all readers, even if you think a war story is not your cup of tea. I keep hoping that the more we know of our world's history, the less chance we have of repeating our most egregious mistakes.
Taken together, Winds of War and War and Remembrance are an enormous undertaking which succeeds marvelously. I read these books when I was much younger and I liked them a lot. Today I like them even more. At the risk of being hyperbolic, I think these are the best stories about war I've ever read. I have no reservations about recommending them. They are a marvel of modern storytelling.
Special thanks to the narrator, Kevin Pariseau, who is terrific. Pariseau is a varsity player, up there with Jim Dale, John Lee, Scott Brick, Lou Diamond Phillips, Barabara Rosenblatt, Davina Porter, and Ed Hermann.