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.
"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)
I have a real appreciation of the works of Herman Wouk. He was one of the first "grownup" authors I read, devouring "The Caine Mutiny" as a 14-year-old, and then a couple of years later reading this work. I was in college when "War and Remembrance" finally came out, and I remember going to the mall to buy a much-needed pair of pants and instead buying the book! Over the years I developed a taste for English literature, particularly 19th-Century stuff -- Austen, Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot -- the usual suspects. And Herman Wouk was always mentioned as an almost quintessential second-rate writer. Perhaps because of my youthful awakening under his spell, I have never thought of him like that. When people say he writes soap operas and wooden dialog, I don't see it. I think his characters are well-drawn, his plots full of interest, and his style very straightforward and middle-American (in a good way!) Maybe it's because one of his themes is the value of the seemingly boring, day-to-day doers who get most of the jobs in the world done. Pug Henry in "The Winds of War" is that sort of person. His other books don't make heroes out of these plodders -- lots of them in the role of the behind-the-scenes fathers, providing the wherewithal for the more interesting lives of the younger generations.
"The Winds of War" seems to me to be written as part English novel of manners and part a great, long complicated work of Dickens. There are lots of characters who are drawn realistically, but they are put in situations requiring strange coincidences and improbable virtues. Victor Henry is the chief example of this. He is a convincingly-portrayed career naval officer thrust into a minor diplomatic post against his will. But then he displays a level of acumen and presence of mind to rival the the greatest of statesmen. He always seems to come up with the perfect thing to say, earning him the surprised respect of the big shots of the era (Big big-shots, like Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin.) He is perhaps just a bit too perceptive and unfailingly correct to be quite believable, but he overall feels like a real person we are following around the globe. His rocky relationships with his children seem real enough, and his personal traits are well-drawn and always interesting.
The real model for this work and the sequel is the great "War and Peace" -- the mixture of personal stories with world events, the encounters with real historical personages, and the mixing of historical narratives with the story line. This works successfully as a plan for the two books, I think, despite the great chutzpah it took to try it. I don't claim that Wouk is the writer Tolstoy is, but WWII is a theme that can at least deserve the same kind of treatment. The brief interlude that the hero and his love interest spend at Tolstoy's estate accompanied by a moment of dejavu make this treatment explicit.
Finally, this very entertaining and even (I would argue) profound story is beautifully narrated by Kevin Pariseau. He does the usual different voices that all the good narrators pull off but he also does accents, and even impersonations when necessary (e.g., Roosevelt and Churchill.) I am very much looking forward to his rendition of "War and Remembrance", assuming that will be following soon.
I read Winds of War 40 years ago when it came out & have reread it at least once since. It has always remained one of my all time favorites. The audio version is just wonderful with great narration that brings the characters to life. As with the book, I lived the story for the last several days as I listened every minute available.
The depth of the story, large cast of characters that Herman Wouk handles like a master so you never think, "now who is this?" & the way he paints visual images of people, places & events fully immerses the reader from page 1.
There is never a boring minute. Even with the length of this book, I was ready for more as it finished, not glad it was done.
I would recommend this audiobook to everyone & only hope War & Remembrance will come next & soon.
German by birth - cosmopolitan by conviction. A CFO enjoying dynamic and multicultural Asia. Classic car and history buff and scuba diver.
Contrary to the rule, I firstly want to extend my deepest appreciation to the narrator of this book. Kevin Pariseau performs marvelously and brings the book to life with colors and atmosphere coming close to pictures. He not only attaches well chosen timbre to the characters but even excels in singing - I see images by his reading. It is plainly outstanding. The story is - at least for me - extremely interesting and reveals a great deal of wartime in Europe. The characters are carefully developed and the alternation of political and private events and settings is very entertaining and consistent. I could hardly stop listening and recommend this book whole heartedly.
Please, where's the sequel. I did not want it to end. It is also provides an excellent behind the scenes account of World War II. Awesome listen.
Texas Book and Movie Lover
This is one of those books you will not want to finish, even though it is over 40 hours of listening. A WW II novel, it starts soon after Hitler was elected and carries through the attack on Pearl Harbor, following the lives of the Henry family and those they encounter. The central character, Victor ("Pug") Henry is a Navy man who becomes one of FDR's confidantes, as a plot mechanism to bring FDR into the story in a personal way. Through the experiences of Pug and his family, we learn much about FDR, pre-war Nazi Germany, Stalin, and the crimes against the Jews of Europe. Also explored is the plight of Britain and the reluctance of 80% of Americans to participate in another European war. The characters throughout the book are well developed and quite familiar by the time the book ends. I am very much looking forward to the next installment, War and Remembrance, which I believe will be on audible.com by the end of November 2011.
I read this book and "War and Rememberance" years ago. I have always hoped it would become available on Audible. I was not disappointed. I am really perplexed that anyone could find a reason to score this book below 5 stars in any area. Pariseau makes the story really pop!!! I can't wait for "War and Rememberance" to be available and I hope Pariseau once again is the narrator. Thank you Audible!
I don't know when I've enjoyed a book more. This is a really interesting book with multiple plot lines. I've listened to a LOT of WWII history. This brought the first part of the war to life. I hope Audible has War and Remembrance soon.
I liked this book so much that I ordered the mini-series so I can watch it.
trying to see the world through my ears
As much as I love historical fiction, I didn't think any author short of Tolstoy could make battle strategy interesting to me, but Wouk did. My test of good historical fiction is being "driven" to fact check a detail then being able to jump right back into the world of the story, and not wanting to leave. This book beat a satisfying path to my reference shelf.
I expected only a pot-boiler with a traditional Yankee bias, but the novel exceeded that, both in style and content.
Narrator Parriseau does a good job, but with such a range of voices and characters there are some misses.
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.
This is very well done and is a classic and is narrated by Kevin Pariseau. This is a good one for only 1 credit!
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