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The Winds of War | [Herman Wouk]

The Winds of War

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Has any lengthy, sweeping epic ever felt more personal than The Winds of War? Kevin Pariseau helps the listener inhabit the events and relationships of this massive and beautifully-told story with a palette of vividly imagined characters, each with a well-defined voice and perfect accent. His transcendent performance makes the hours fly, but don't worry - when the book ends you can still enjoy more with the sequel, War and Remembrance. —David

Publisher's Summary

A masterpiece of historical fiction, this is the Great Novel of America's "Greatest Generation".

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

Also listen to War and Remembrance.

©1971 Herman Wouk (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Wouk's real genius lies not just in the narrative power of his books, but in his empathy with the people and the times of which he writes…. The genius of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance is that they not only tell the story of the Holocaust, but tell it within the context of World War II, without which there is no understanding it." (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-06-14
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-06-14 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "Epic historical drama"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 01-10-14
    Phillip Arlington, TX 01-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Masterful work of historical fiction"

    This is one of the top 5 Audible books I have read/listened to. Wouk does a masterful job of creating fully realized characters who are geographically positioned in such a way that we are offered an almost comprehensive view of the years leading to the outbreak of World War II in both the West and the East. The only aspect that we are not privy to is that of the Sino-Japanese front.

    The majority of the story is told through the eyes of the Henry and Jastrow families. The patriarch of the Henry family, Victor, is a high-ranking Naval officer and is thus able to traverse the globe in his military duties from Germany to Washington to London, the Soviet Union and Hawaii and so offer the reader a glimpse of the unique situation in each of these locales from 1938-1942. In addition, his son, Byron, and the Jastrow family give us an eyewitness account of both Italy under Mussolini and the outbreak of the war in Poland. And the Jastrow's also offer a Jewish point-of-view of the series of events leading up to World War II and the beginnings of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

    Between sections of the main narrative, Wouk also adds excerpts of a book he titles "World Holocaust" which was written by the fictional General Armin von Roon, a Wehrmacht officer, and translated by Victor Henry. These excerpts give the battlefield conditions of each theater of operations as we progress through the years of World War II. It is a brilliant device that ties the story of the main characters and their narrow scope of events to the broad, global scope of the war that threatens the entire globe.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 02-24-13
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 02-24-13 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

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    "Everything going for it--superb!"

    I put off listening to it WoW due to the sheer length of the book. It intimidated me and I wondered how I could listen to one book for so long. However, I am on a quest to know all I can about this second World War and how it came about. I began the book thinking that I would eventually finish it and reward myself with a book of pure fluff, thereafter.

    I was blown away by the story, the character development, the variety of characters, and the real feel to the story. It is so much more than just historical fiction. I felt like the characters became family members or old friends, and I really cared about what happened to them. Herman Wouk is a great novelist.

    And, I must add, the narrator, Kevin Pariseau, is spectacular. He deserves 10 stars! I am so glad he was chosen to narrate this book, as he does a masterful job of capturing the characters, their accents, and the women's voices. He is truly a master of narration.

    As I progressed through the book, I started imagining which "fun" book I would choose next. As I got closer and closer to the end, I began to think that maybe I should just go on to War and Remembrance, as I did not want to leave the story and characters. I really want to know how they fare as the war rolls on. This is good stuff. This is a wonderful way to learn about our last world war, and we owe it to ourselves to know what actually happened. Only if people know what really happened can they avoid repeating history. At least, that is what I believe.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 07-21-12
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2007

    Daily Dog Walker and LONG Silicon Valley commutes, so I gulp through and love lotsa books, especially literary fiction and Mystery.

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    "Storytelling + History = Worth the time!"
    Would you listen to The Winds of War again? Why?

    Probably not! But that's not a slam, it's a saga, but not...an Epic


    What other book might you compare The Winds of War to and why?

    Michener's books


    What about Kevin Pariseau’s performance did you like?

    Excellent command of multiple characters/intonations - superb actor


    If you could rename The Winds of War, what would you call it?

    Wouldn't. It's a good name.


    Any additional comments?

    Brought pre-World War II and beginning of World War II to life through eyes and hearts of one family, making what seems already ancient and long ago deeply personal. An excellent introduction to the era from a very American family/set of eyes.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-15-11
    Sarah Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-15-11 Member Since 2009
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    "splendid narration"

    I have enjoyed the story so much: Wouk combined interesting, engaging characters with fantastically well-researched historical information, described in an approachable way. The narration takes this production to the next level, though; Kevin Pariseau gets the accents, personalities, and even the songs down pat. Wonderful. I went through the first 24 hours of the book in no time, shocking myself every time I reached the end of an 8-hr section and had to download the next!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Campbell Palm Coast, FL USA 11-14-11
    Margaret Campbell Palm Coast, FL USA 11-14-11 Member Since 2001
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    "Just The Way I Remembered It!"

    I read this book when it first came out over 30 years ago and I enjoyed listening to these 45 hours just as much as I enjoyed reading it back then. A delightful family saga with the added bonus of making you feel like you were right there during all the events leading up to World War II. Hopefully Audible will follow quickly with the sequel...........War and Remembrance.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delmar ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 11-10-11
    Delmar ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 11-10-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Good overview of history leading up to WWII"

    A very good audio book. Having read the book, in print, and seen the movie, I was able to concentrate a little more on the major historical events--apart from the story line. Interesting conflicts in viewpoints by the German General in his historical perspectives from that of an American Naval Officer, Victor Henry. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and wish that Audiobooks would also do War and Remembrance--which covers the rest of WWII. I believe "Winds of War" would be a great book to put on the reading liist of today's high school students for a more personal view of events, attitudes and personalities, and how the world political situation prior to, and at the beginning of WWII has shaped todays world.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Blue Anchor, NJ, United States 11-03-11
    Lee Blue Anchor, NJ, United States 11-03-11 Member Since 2007
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    "one of the best books I've ever read"

    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.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith 10-31-11
    Judith 10-31-11
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    "Great"

    All I can say is, I loved this novel. I read it 30 years ago and enjoyed it as much from Audible. Great performance.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa 01-07-12 Member Since 2003

    MikeFromMesa

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    "I had forgotten"

    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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 229 results PREVIOUS12323NEXT
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  • Julie
    Worcester, United Kingdom
    11/11/12
    Overall
    "Incredible!!!!"

    I have loved every minute over this incredibly long book!! My ipod earphones have been glued into my ears for days...I now fear there may be permanent damage. Despite that fact this book is over 45 hours long, it still rockets along nicely.

    My one tiny issue is the narrator's attempt at some English accents, but hey, my New York accent is appalling!!!

    I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in WW2 novels.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Rachel
    Ireland
    11/22/12
    Overall
    "Winds of War"

    An absolutely amazing book! This is meticulously researched historically and a must read for anyone. I was never interested in the history and facts of WW II even though five uncles served. My father served as a Captain in the Medical Corps in the Pacific. I wish he was still alive. I have so many questions I wish I could ask. I guarantee even if you don't like "war stories" this book will have you hanging on every word. Thanks Audible!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • sharon
    Falmouth, United Kingdom
    7/15/13
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    "Absolutely Wonderful.."

    Compelling.. there is so much in this book to digest that it will have to be reread, it will be no hardship. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable on the WWII but I was wrong, and it was so refreshing to see it from different POV's, it only takes you up to Pearl Harbour so looking forward to the next one in series... recommended.. the type of novel that does not get old or out of date, wonderful wish I had read it years ago.. I know it will stay with me in many years to come.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Irene
    London, United Kingdom
    5/5/13
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    Story
    "I can listen this book again & again"

    Magnificently read by Kevin Pariseau, this history of the second world war as seen by Americans through the lives of an American family and their English friends was a great experience. The characters came alive and you feel their hopes, loses, happiness and sorrows.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • James
    United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "A view from a different angle."

    A history af the run up to and the beginning of the second world war from the American viewpoint. up to thethe forced entry of the USA Into the conflict. Telling of the crucial mistakes of the leaders that contributed to the outcome.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. J. L. Reed
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "An epic story of love and war"

    I remember reading this book many years ago and was delighted to see it appear here as an audio book. I was concerned that my memories of Victor 'Pug' Henry and his family would not be as I remembered but I was not disapointed. Beautifully told and a joy to listen to. I would recommend this to both people with a love a huge sweeping stories and anyone interested in our recent history,

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Frances
    Shipham, United Kingdom
    2/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched, but not well written"

    I am in two minds about this book. The research and detail were brilliant, but the writing style is stilted. Conversations don't sound like real people. Almost all of the characters come across as synthetic. Having said that, I did enjoy listening to it. Maybe a better narrator would have helped.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lynne
    New Quay, United Kingdom
    12/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reader only so-so but story surmounts it"

    This is a bargain listen, worth every minute. It's a fascinating story. For me the reader is only so-so. His voices are not very individual so if your attention wanders you can lost track of who is speaking. And his accents are not very good - Englishmen saying "Toodur" and so forth. But the tale overcomes these irritations.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • dagbo
    London
    10/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Epic World War 2 story - compelling."
    What did you like most about The Winds of War?

    The scope and size of the drama and the characters. It's epic as it goes from one country to the next, one set of characters. All brought together brilliantly.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Victor Henry - the main character is a well thought out, brilliant character. Flawed in his own way, quiet, and harsh. The growth of this character over the course of the book is a strength of the novel.


    What does Kevin Pariseau bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Really great reader. Good characterisation. Kept the pace up. The only disturbing character was Pamela esp. when she was being seductive...weird ;-) but not sure how else Kevin could have played it!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not possible, it's too long. However, I did listen to it over a period of weeks when commuting, flying overseas and going off to sleep.


    Any additional comments?

    Thankfully this is just part one of two and have already started War and Remembrance, which starts exactly where this one leaves off. Another 50+ hours of great story telling awaits.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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