We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Birds Without Wings Audiobook

Birds Without Wings

Regular Price:$47.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Hard to put into words the effect of this powerful historical novel. British author Louis de Bernieres has essentially created a world of vivid, finely drawn characters, whose simple lives will change irrevokably in the wake of World War I. Like the best novels based on real events, de Bernieres' Birds Without Wings enriches the listener's understanding of a period in history while revealing with great sensitivity the impact of terrible events on human lives.

Publisher's Summary

Birds Without Wings is the story of a small town in Anatolia in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire told in the richly varied voices of the men and women (Armenians, Christians, and Muslims) whose lives are intertwined and rooted there: Iskander, the potter and local fount of wisdom; Philotei, the Christian girl of legendary beauty, courted almost from infancy by Ibrahim the goatherd, a great love that culminates in tragedy and madness; and many more. When jihad is declared against the Franks and the young men of the town are conscripted, we follow Iskander's son, Karatavuk, to Gallipoli, where the intimate brutality of battle robs him of all innocence, just as the town he left behind is robbed of its centuries-old peace by the twin scourges of fanatical religion and nationalism that the war unleashed.

©2004 Louis de Bernieres; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (317 )
5 star
 (167)
4 star
 (82)
3 star
 (39)
2 star
 (14)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
4.3 (155 )
5 star
 (85)
4 star
 (43)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.5 (153 )
5 star
 (113)
4 star
 (20)
3 star
 (12)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Rae Aaron New Mexico, USA 04-03-13
    Rae Aaron New Mexico, USA 04-03-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Best Book I Have Read In Years"
    Would you listen to Birds Without Wings again? Why?

    Yes. The story is compelling, the characters felt real.

    I didn't want the book to end. After finishing it I thought about the book for several days, and felt a longing for the characters as if they were friends I met on a vacation that I might never see again.

    Before reading this, I knew little about Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, or the terrible ethnic cleansing that occurred around the time of WWI. The story weaves chapters of the story of Mustafa Kemal between chapters written in the first person voice of the various citizens of a small village in southwestern Anatolia. The village is a melting pot of many cultures and religions that mix together to make an interesting and caring community, where the people live in harmony (mostly). However, the world is changing around them, and eventually the racism and the associated horrible atrocities sweeping Turkey and the region make their way to Eskibahçe. The book is a wonderful blend of drama, romance, humor and tragedy.


    What other book might you compare Birds Without Wings to and why?

    Captain Correlli's Mandolin is also by the same author and is something of a sequel to this book set at the time of WWII with one overlapping character, Drosoula. Both books have compelling characters I grew to truly care about.


    Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favorite?

    John Lee does an outstanding job performing all the characters. However, if I have to choose one, it would Abdulhamid Hodja, though Karatavuk's potty mouthed wartime chum, despite being a smaller character, is also very memorable.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A Sad But Beautiful Story Well Told


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Rither 11-19-06
    Alan Rither 11-19-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    458
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    442
    66
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    22
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent Antidote for Bigotry"

    The author not only wrote an engaging story about the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, but an excellent antidote for bigotry. As you get to know the characters, it matters little whether they are Christian or Muslim -- they are just parts of the village we come to know and love. Honor and integrity are shown by both sides as are dishonor and perfidy. Battle scenes are revealed as horrible rather than glorious. His storytelling method reminds me of Faulkner's, 'As I Lay Dying'. The narrator was superb with distinct voices for each character. This was one of my favorite audiobooks.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Weaver NJ United States 08-06-05
    S. Weaver NJ United States 08-06-05 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    450
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "good story, fascinating history"

    This is a long book, and not always riveting, but still a tremendous read. The narration is excellent. The book itself surrounds the political travails of the Ottoman Empire as it dissolves and is replaced by the nation of Turkey, in the process going from being extremely multiethnic to being more nationalistic. It interweaves the stories of ordinary people in an ordinary village with a description of the historical events through the character of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk). It gives a great feel for the culture, geography, and time period in which it is set, and the characters are sympathetic and well drawn. Writing about this era is bound to be controversial, and depending on your politics, you can find him anti-Greek, anti-Turkish, anti-Kurdish, anti-Armenian, or whatever you want. The author tries to be even-handed, though personally I thought he was a bit too pro-Turkish and against everyone else, but as biases go, it was pretty slight. Great book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James colorado 09-26-06
    James colorado 09-26-06

    Gabby

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    156
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Outstanding"

    This is one of the top five books that I have ever read (or listened to); and, I read alot. John Lee does an absolutely masterful job with the narration of a very challenging and complicated book. This book has dramatic implications and lessons for all of us in these polarizing times. At times sad, graphic, mysterious, horrifying, imaginative and hilariously funny, this is a must read.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A A 10-11-05
    A A 10-11-05 Listener Since 2005

    alialpay

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Great piece"

    Good story, great characters, and a masterful rendering by the reader, who adds so much to this wonderful title. A no brainer this one. The best audio book I found to date (out of 10).

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothea Chicago, Israel 09-24-07
    Dorothea Chicago, Israel 09-24-07 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    136
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    "Heartbreaking tale of folly and evil."

    This book,which I have recommended to everyone I talk books with, is a marvel of intertwined narratives.
    It also is prophetic, with the rise of right wing Turkish nationalism and radical Islam in Turkey. Turkey still denies the massacre of millions of Armenians, people are getting assassinated for demanding it be acknowledged.

    It brought home the hopelessness of the tangle of interests in that part of the world. It is fine and important literature. If I was teaching I would put it on my syllabus.


    John Lee, as always, is superb.





    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 03-21-16
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 03-21-16 Member Since 2013

    Fionnchú

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    27
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The other side of WWI and more"
    What did you love best about Birds Without Wings?

    The immersion into village life on the southern Turkish coast, and the way that some characters were pulled from that into war and exile, realistically and not romantically.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned a lot about Mustafa Kamal turned Ataturk, and his rise to power was integrated well into the narrative, as gradually one character's progress intersected briefly with the famed leader. While at first these passages appear out of place, they gradually overlap with the characters, who are taken up without knowing it into the formation of Turkey as we know it a century later, a nation which chose to remake itself, at the cost of its Ottoman past.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    Best of many moments were his dramatization of the Greek merchant's monologue as he sunk off Smyrna, and an ironic delight was Father Christoferos' fevered denunciation of all things tainted Catholic. John Lee and Louis de Bernieres share the joy and sorrow of a well-told epic, and they remind me of the sheer pleasure in storytelling at a long pace.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me chuckle, as in the many wry comments the narrators make about what one calls the "fetid bed" where nationalism and religion couple to produce monsters, so to speak. I was sad when many characters succumbed to the impact of war and ethnic cleansing. The tone of this book veers between the literary fiction's interest in ideas and ideologies, and the bestseller's skill at entertaining as well as educating readers about the Greek-Turkish clash.


    Any additional comments?

    This novel remains relevant as a cautionary tale, as we witness new tales of suffering, violence, and refugees across Anatolia and the surrounding Levantine and Balkans. Louis de Bernieres' prequel of sorts to the WWII-themed Corelli's Mandolin now makes me wish that had a John Lee audiobook too. A shame that title is not on Audible.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward north palm beach, FL, United States 06-15-11
    Edward north palm beach, FL, United States 06-15-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "What a wonderfully woven story"

    Though the story took place in a fictional ottman/turkish village, the stories of love and tenderness even in the worst of times, war and its devastation, innocence and innocence lost are universal. BWW made me laugh, cry and hope the story would go on forever. The odd juxtaposition of the rise of Mustafa Kamal became more meaningful as the characters developed, and as the villagers of Eskabache were so sorrowfully affected by the coming and progress of WWI. Someday, I may listen again, or read the book. You will not be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 05-20-07
    Richard 05-20-07

    Biomedical entrepreneur. Lifelong Libertarian. Yoga enthusiast.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    284
    51
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "Wonderful book"

    What an incredible book! It takes genius of mind and heart to write a book that touches so profoundly and humanly on so much of life -- the good, the bad and the ugly. I have virtually no knowledge of the historical events that surround this story, but hope that the book is as accurate on this as it is in telling the story of people going about their ordinary lives one day at a time. And the prose is magnificent, as is the reader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brea, CA United States 11-10-09
    Brea, CA United States 11-10-09 Member Since 2007

    tsaller

    HELPFUL VOTES
    158
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    64
    40
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    13
    0
    Overall
    "So boring I couldn't stand it"

    The reviews here were so good I figured this book was really something. A couple of hours into it I still could not see what all the fuss was about. I can't stand the narration, the foreshadowing of this girl's death is depressing, and this story never gets anywhere. Granted, I didn't get more than a couple of hours into it but it was just agonizing so I finally gave up. I love a great read but this wasn't it for me.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.