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The Winds of War Audiobook

The Winds of War

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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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  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 05-24-13
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 05-24-13 Member Since 2016
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    "A Masterpiece"

    Winds of War is the first in a two book historical fiction series about WWII. The time span of this first installment begins six months before the German invasion of Poland and ends with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the official entry of the US into the war. I found the story’s prelude to the war to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the book and it all mostly revolves around the life and naval career of one Victor “Pug” Henry, his immediate and extended family.

    Prior to the war, this fictional character Pug, a naval attache to Berlin, draws the attention of FDR after writing an insightful prediction of the German-Russian nonaggression pact. Thus begins the relationship between Pug and FDR that will keep the former on land instead of at sea as the personal, though mostly unofficial, “intelligence” officer to the President. Pug’s goings and comings including his meetings with the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill and Stalin serve as the backbone of this novel.

    I generally avoid books of this ilk aware that so many dwell on the Nazi atrocities that are more than this reader can handle. While mention is made of these, it is not what the book explores in detail and again, the novel is about the antecedent and beginning aspects of the war when not a great deal was known about what was going on in camps behind barbed wire.

    I sometimes had issues with the book’s editing. The book is 46 hours (~900 pages) in length. I do not hesitate to take on a tome of this length as long as I don’t encounter too much fluff. And, while I felt there was not an inordinate amount of triviality, there were episodes of detail about the personal lives of friends and relatives of Pug that I could have done without. That said, this was still a “driveway” book; a book I would sit in my driveway upon returning home after my drive from work and continue listening to because it was just that captivating. Not to be misunderstood, I believe that the relating of the lives of Pug’s family and friends were essential to the book. It made the historical events personal, not just cold hard facts. I did feel, however, that the emotions of his immediate family were sometimes rather cavalier with respect to war in general. But they were what they were.

    IMHO, the book is a masterpiece. The three E’s are all there contained within its covers. The book is educational, enlightening and entertaining. The text is peppered with excerpts from a fictional dissertation by a German General Armin von Roon. I found his [Nazi] German perspective on Hitler and the war to be particularly fascinating.

    Finally, the book is made even better by the superlative narration and performance of Kevin Pariseau. I do not believe a book has ever been better performed. I would recommend this book to everyone.

    27 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 10-25-13
    Jan 10-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "45 hours + 56 hours = 102 hours of listening"

    The "Winds of War" is actually the first of a pair of novels which ambitiously cover WWII from beginning to end. The books follow the "Pug" Henry family and close friends as they are conveniently placed into each location where important events occur leading up to and during the start of the war. The fictional family events are woven through the factual historical events with experiences, letters, book excepts, newspapers and conversations used to guide the reader through the war. This book ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and all characters are left dangling... scattered around the world. The story is completed in the next book - "War and Remembrance." So you are looking at 102 hours of listening to completely read. I have to admit I was ready for something new when I finished, and some parts were boring... but I did enjoy it and learned tons. I have read a lot of WWII books set in specific areas, but this one helped me understand the entire war... step by step what happened where, when and why. It is presented in a PG to PG 13 format with mild language, mild sexual content, lots of drinking and of course the violence of war. It is slowly paced with a vintage feel although written in 70's (it's not a action packed Ken Follet type novel). Not as beautifully written as Wouk's "The Cain Mutiny" but still very satisfying and lots of reading for a credit.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-06-14
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-06-14 Member Since 2005
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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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 04-10-13
    Amazon Customer East Hartford, CT, United States 04-10-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent"

    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 05-17-15
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 05-17-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Boring"
    Any additional comments?

    I was so tired of the characters in this book by the time I finished it that I was very glad to be done with it. I actually wanted Natalie Jastrow and her uncle to be caught just so I would not have to hear any more about their stupid decisions and rationalizations for not leaving Italy. Natalie Jastrow has about as much common sense as a mole. The only redeeming features of the book were the interviews between Pug and Roosevelt, Hitler and Churchill.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua 07-10-14
    Joshua 07-10-14
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    "The Most Fleshed Out Character Of This Book Is WW2"
    Would you listen to The Winds of War again? Why?

    Probably not. I listen to my books on the road, and it took me like a month to go through this behemoth. It's not that this was a bad book, or that I regret having heard it, it's just that it's not so UTTERLY AMAZING that I would spend another month on it. I'll definitely be getting the sequel.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the vivid pictures Wouk gave of the time and place. I especially liked von Roon's fictional memoirs.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Any scene with combat in it. Or a famous historical figure.


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

    At forty-five hours long, I would say no.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator is excellent. He tells the story well, and manages to credibly pull off all the various accents.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron 02-04-14
    Aaron 02-04-14 Member Since 2016
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    "~ ~ ~ windy ~ ~ ~"

    This is the first book I have finished that was over 40 hours in length.

    I feel like I deserve a medal.

    I didn't particularly enjoy it. I wouldn't read it again. And, I would only recommend it with a few cautions.

    As a "history" of events leading up World War II, and the main players involved, it was admirable; About as entertaining as you can expect from an historical fiction.

    That said, I didn't like any of the characters. For a forty-five hour book, I felt that they were shallow caricatures only serving to move the narrative. The dialogue was realistic and kept the story together, but the people were flat. A moment (any moment) of humor would have been like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise drab world!

    The thing that really put me over the edge however, was the "cliff-hanger" ending (if you can call it that) leaving the reader only half way through the story. Imagine my surprise to find that another 45 hour book is needed to explain the rest of this story.

    No, I am not going to read the next book because I don't care what happens to any of the characters involved.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerry Austin, TX USA 01-21-13
    Jerry Austin, TX USA 01-21-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely amazing w/ equally amazing performance"
    Where does The Winds of War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top Five of all time


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

    I am really enjoying Ken Follett's Century trilogy, but this surpassed.


    Have you listened to any of Kevin Pariseau’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not, but would rank him equal with Jon Lee


    Any additional comments?

    This is simply a must read. I switch between the kindle and audible copy (with some challenges) to enhance the experiences.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 01-05-17
    Richard Delman San Francisco 01-05-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Don't like war novels? Read this."
    What did you love best about The Winds of War?

    The fact that the plot is structured around one family, from the beginning of the war until its end. I have never really liked war books, and I have never really liked history either. However, Mr. Wouk has written two superb books (this one is in two parts, as is the "sequel," War and Remembrance) which in total make about one hundred hours of listening. If you told me that I would love these books before I read them, I would have been skeptical at best. However, once you get into it, these stories are fascinating, very moving and highly instructive. The narration is a little bit stiff, but that is nit-picking, frankly. The Henry family is a classic American family. Their experiences in and around WWII are the stuff of high adventure, romance, moments of true despair, and perfectly descriptive of the many emotional forces that bind families together and, occasionally, tear them apart. This is a masterpiece. It is great writing. Don't be put off by the length of the books, because after a while you will be deeply grateful that Mr. Wouk has made the phenomenal efforts necessary to put down everything he needs to say. This is the way to learn history, and a number of other topics.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Winds of War?

    There are so many. I think that the wild car ride that Natalie and Byron and several others take in the vast plains of Russian territory: this is a marvelously well-told saga of how frightening wars can be, and of how much two people can love each other, and of the heroism that arises from Byron's love and dedication to his young bride.


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

    I couldn't read something this long, I don't believe. Mr. Pariseau is very easy to listen to, and he covers a very broad range of scenes with talent and sensitivity. There are numerous accents to master and personalities to depict, and he does them all flawlessly.


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

    I'm just not good at this kind of thing. Plus, boiling down fifty hours of audiobook to two hours of movie: it can't be done. There is too much great stuff here, and you would have to throw out an unsupportable amount of it to condense it so severely. Not a great idea.


    Any additional comments?

    Read this book, even if you feel that this is the last kind of book that will appeal to you. You will be amazed and delighted at what you learn about the world, and about individual people, and about relationships, and...Have a ball. Thank heaven that the good guys won this one. What a world it would be if we had lost.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 03-19-15
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 03-19-15 Member Since 2008
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    "I hate Natalie"

    As an easy way to learn about the major events of WWII, this is a great book. As a novel about a bunch of characters who happen to get drawn into it, it's not too bad. Wouk is a decent writer who knows how to keep things moving. There is just the right amount of friction between the characters to keep it from getting boring, but not enough to generate a truly memorable story. Instead we get the standard spectrum of characters, and the standard soap opera plot.

    Having the German General Roon was a brilliant idea. Wouk is able to insert his characters into a lot of unlikely situations to facilitate first person involvement in the events of the war, but clearly not all of them. Having his protagonist translate Roon's book decades after the fact allows him to accomplish multiple objectives. It fills in details his characters were not witness to, it shows at least one point of view from the opposing side, and it places the entire conflict in historical perspective.

    I'm not really clear what Wouk's attitude toward women is. His female characters are all depicted as being fairly confident with their own agendas and a sense of independence. Hard to say if he was trying to depict women of 1940 or women of 1970 when the book was written. At the same time, these female characters have a woeful lack of common sense. They are generally out of touch with current events, and seemingly oblivious to the dangerous realities of the situation unfolding in the world around them.

    Probably his main female character is Natalie. I suppose Natalie is supposed to embody the spirit of youth or the feminist ideal of 1970. She certainly is not lacking in confidence, no matter how unfounded. Yet Natalie is always being bailed out by the men around her and inviting unnecessary trouble. She is constantly endangering herself and others. Plus, she never seems chagrined by the trouble she causes. You would think she would eventually learn something or feel some responsibility for her actions. Fat chance. And yet, if I ever get around to reading the sequel, I think it will be mostly to find out what happens to this awful person.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • 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!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • 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
  • sharon
    Falmouth, United Kingdom
    7/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Irene
    London, United Kingdom
    5/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    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
  • Amazon Customer
    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
  • Philadelphus
    New Quay, Wales
    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
  • JamesDevon
    9/25/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb"

    Superb
    Superb
    Superb
    Superb

    Get the picture??!

    This is outstandingly well written and performed. Brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Vicuña
    UK
    7/20/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thought provoking; rewrites history"
    What made the experience of listening to The Winds of War the most enjoyable?

    Outstanding narration throughout. Great character voices.


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

    This is a stand alone epic.


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

    Not possible, it's nearly 50 hours.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I've ever read. It's an epic work, following a family as the world moves into World War 2. There's a clever mix of fiction woven around fact and some people really come to life. For me, Roosevelt becomes a complex and single minded individual with an agenda I'd never truly understood. It's quite a revelation and has made me rethink many beliefs about some events in the war.

    Strong characters, incredible writing and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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