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Publisher's Summary

In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown - until now.

This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to those extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.

©2001 Don and Petie Kladstrup (P)2012 Tantor

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Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 05-28-12

Good story, terrible performance

The book is a collection of interesting, moving stories about people from various wine regions of France during the German occupation. The performance is so theatrical it nearly ruins the book.

The text is a collection of essentially unrelated stories covering 1939-46 France. There are some recurring characters, but mostly the stories are self contained and told at a very personal level. There is some reflection about the war in general and the currents of history, but the focus of the book is on individuals. The stories are funny, passionate, sad and inspirational. The writing is very good and all major regions get a nod.

The performance is terrible. The reader affects an outrageous French or German accent (think Monty Python accents) every time a character speaks--even though they are all speaking in English. He even has some English and American accents later in the book. When you have a German arguing with a Frenchman the rapidly switching accents require tremendous effort to follow and I felt it contributed nothing to the text. Add in some over-acting and his Hitler is almost unbearable.

Most history books mention that France quickly fell and then was liberated several years later but the time in between is rarely examined. The authors do a good job of describing the daily uncertainty and moral ambiguities of living and working in an occupied country. They do not appear to have a bias and manage to portray some of the occupying Germans as complicated characters, not caricatures.

I enjoyed the text but almost couldn't finish the book because of the overly dramatic performance.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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In Vino Veritas

This is a vino-centric history of WWII. It is told in an anecdotal style that is quite entertaining if at times somewhat disjointed. The broader scope of the war and the global impact it had on the formation of the modern world are beyond the scope of this lighthearted work. This book relates the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and does it in an engaging feel-good manner. For me it was a nice departure from the usual WWII histories I delve into. Much of the book revolves around the ways the French wine makers managed to preserve some of their best vintages from the hands of their Nazi occupiers. At times it has a Hogan’s Heroes vibe to it with the French underground seeming to run circles around the oblivious German overlords. And isn’t this the real story of war; that no matter how tough are the times, people will always try to triumph? This is the story of people placed in a bad situation and not only make the best of it but look beyond to a better future time when life might return to normal. I think this is the kind of thing historians are really looking for in by returning time and again to the battlefields of WWII. It is curious to find such a profound truth is such a simple book. Perhaps one must first wade through a panoply of thirty-hour “serious” histories of WWII to be able to discover it here.

Todd McLaren gives a fine narration. I always enjoy his slightly sarcastic delivery. His accents of French and German voices are decidedly from a native English speaking American intonation, but that’s OK because that is how I sound when I think them in my own head.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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Misleading title, just stories of the resistance.

Would you try another book from Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup and/or Todd McLaren?

Probably not.

Would you ever listen to anything by Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup again?

Definitely not.

Would you be willing to try another one of Todd McLaren’s performances?

Perhaps.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None.

Any additional comments?

Mainly war stories from the French Resistance movement, thinly disguised as "wine war stories". Ridiculously empty.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TL
  • Vancouver
  • 03-05-13

fascinating

If you could sum up Wine and War in three words, what would they be?

compelling; historical; thrilling

What did you like best about this story?

the facts

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

never heard Todd McLaren before, but found his French accents, particularly the female ones, rather...distracting.

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

I was moved, but not to tears.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story

Excellent reading, poor recording

I liked this book. Listening to it was fun, a nice foray into WWII as I work through some wine books. The stories of people who lived (or didn't) through the experience were funny, touching, and frequently sad.

My only real complaint is the quality of the recording. At times it was as though the reader was speaking through a thin wall. It was worse with low quality head phones but ultimately I had to combat it by downloading an equalizer onto my phone and lowering the 60hz range to 0.

  • Overall
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Need to be very passionate about wine to enjoy.

Any additional comments?

This is an amazing book if you have a true passion for wine. If you do not I could see it being very boring. I have traveled to over a dozen of the world's greatest wine regions and work in the industry so I had a lot of interest and appreciation for where the characters were coming from and their points of view. Have also been to a a fair amount of the locations in the book which makes it more interesting.

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Truly intriguing...

Best companion for a road trip through Wine Country ever! Historical education and great story telling.

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NO $%*_(^^ ACCENTS!

Where does Wine and War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the bottom only because the reading is so distracting that I forget the content.

What did you like best about this story?

The fact that so many of the stories are first person. I feel that a fragile historical jewel has been preserved.

How could the performance have been better?

What is it with accents? Please! If you can't pronounce French properly please don't Inspector Clouseau (or Hogan's Heroes German or faux Upper Class Twit English). Doing a bad French accent in a mincing tone because you're quoting a woman is just cringe-inducing. This guy even does an "American" accent! He's American for heaven's sake. Also, please, if you're speaking English, it's not "Champanyuh" or "Paree". If the content weren't so interesting I would have stopped listening hours ago.

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

The vine is mightier than the sword.

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Thought I would like it a lot......

Would you try another book from Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup and/or Todd McLaren?

...after a while it felt like I was listening to the same things over & over.I guess being a child of WWII time I expected more.

Would you be willing to try another book from Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup ? Why or why not?

..the repetitive issue I mention was partly due to the narration I think.But the episodes often sounded like the others.

What three words best describe Todd McLaren’s performance?

repetitive sounding.....

Did Wine and War inspire you to do anything?

no

  • Overall
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Great story, less than stellar pronunciations

As a lover of French wines, and a ww2 history fan, this book was very interesting. However, for having so many French words in it, you could tell the reader was not very well versed in French. It made made some words and regions unrecognizable to the readers who understand French. It ruined the overall flow and experience.

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