Read The Winds of War by Herman Wouk Online

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Like no other masterpiece of historical fiction, Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II is the great novel of America's Greatest Generation.Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as 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 thLike no other masterpiece of historical fiction, Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II is the great novel of America's Greatest Generation.Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as 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.The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance stand as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers....

Title : The Winds of War
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316952668
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 896 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Winds of War Reviews

  • Matt
    2019-04-02 13:06

    There is always a tension in historical fiction. Make the book too historical, and you might as well man-up, append some footnotes, and make it nonfiction. Make the book too fictional, and you end up in a situation where the relatively trivial problems of the characters overshadow the bigger problems of history. I call this latter phenomenon the Kate Beckinsale Corollary, after the infamous scene in the movie Pearl Harbor where she utters the lines: "Rafe, I'm pregnant. I didn't even know until the day you turned up alive...And then all this happened." "This", of course, was the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed 2,500 Americans, but which seems to pale in comparison to Beckinsale's sordid love triangle with two Army pilots who are also best friends.Herman Wouk's solution to this tension is to say screw it, and super-size both the history and the fictional drama of the turbulent years leading up to America's involvement in World War II. This is a big, sprawling, ambitious novel set against a factual background and real-life personages. The true-life tragedies are interwoven with the soap opera Wouk constructed around Captain Victor "Pug" Henry, the paterfamilias of an American naval family that includes his unhappy wife, Rhoda; the perfect eldest son Warren (a Naval flier); and their loose-cannon middle child Byron (a submariner). The easiest thing I could do is make fun of this book. There's so much to pick apart. There's enough melodrama to fuel a dozen General Hospitals. The characterizations can be less than sharp. There is a Gump-like quality to Pug Henry, so that he's always turning up at the right place at the right time, allowing him to roll with the titans of the day (Look it's FDR! And isn't that Churchill! Wait, is that the smell of fish on Stalin's breath!?) Moreover, for a book so overstuffed with dalliances, affairs, and wandering hearts, there is a certain chasteness to the proceedings that is both quaint and irritating. The horrors of the Holocaust, graphically described? Yes. A sex scene or two? No. But I'm not going to pick apart the book, because I loved it. Everything that works against it can, in the right frame of mind, be seen as advantageous. The messiness and the ridiculousness are endemic of ambition, and despite a slow start, in which we are introduced to the archetypal rectitude of Pug Henry, this huge book is never less than engrossing. Pug is naval officer sent to England as an observer. This will give him the opportunity to hobnob with historical figures while also fall in love with a woman named Pamela, who is daughter to a British radio star. Later, because of his observer status, Pug will get to chat with FDR and then go to Moscow. Meanwhile, Byron is in Italy working as a research assistant to Aaron Jastrow, a famed Jewish writer. Byron is soon in love with Jastrow's niece, Natalie, and will be with them as the two flee the encroaching Holocaust. Warren, the naval flier, is stationed in Hawaii, and his role is mainly to sit there until December 7, 1941. Meanwhile, while Pug is skirting the line with Pamela, his wife drifts towards a love affair with Palmer Kirby. Palmer is a scientist type, and if you guessed that he'll eventually work on the Manhattan Project, you're right!Wouk's work is overstuffed with research. At times, he's able to deftly weave his factoids into the narrative. For instance, in this meeting with Roosevelt, we learn a couple of tidbits about the President without breaking the flow of the story:Roosevelt sighed, smoothed his thin rumpled gray hair, and rolled himself to his desk. Victor Henry now noticed that the President did not use an ordinary invalid's wheelchair, but an odd piece of gear, a sort of kitchen chair on wheels, in and out of which he could easily slide himself. 'Golly, the sun's going down, and it's still sweltering in here.' Roosevelt sounded suddenly weary, as he contemplated papers piled on the desk. 'Isn't it about time for a drink? Would you like a martini? I'm supposed to mix a passable martini.'Wouk is less successful using excerpts from a fictional nonfiction book called World's Empire Lost, written by the fictional German General Armin van Roon, and translated by the fictional Pug Henry. Wouk uses these excerpts to set the historical stage, and if you are a neophyte to this period, I suppose it's helpful. However, if you already have some facility with this time-period, these excerpts are mainly annoying. My favorite part about this book is its excellent sense of place. Wouk gives you a vivid, tactile sense of being in prewar and wartime Europe: Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia. The muddy narrow streets of Medzice - it had rained hard during the night, and the rattling on the rabbi's roof had increased Byron's sensed of snugness - were filled with an autumnal fragrance of hay and ripening fruit, made more tangy by the smells of the free-roaming ducks, chickens, goats, and calves. Some of the fowl were encountering tragedy, happily strutting in the morning sunshine one moment, and the next swooped down upon by laughing children and carried off squawking and flapping to be slaughtered. In the fields beyond the outlying houses and barns - mostly one-room log structures with heavy yellow thatch roofs - cows and horses grazed in tall waving grass spotted with wild flowers. Water bugs skated on the surface of the slow-moving brown river. Fish jumped and splashed, but nobody was fishing.Wouk presides over this bulging story like some sort of god. Strangely, there are times when he steps out of the story to remind us that we are reading something fictional. He does this, for example, on the eve of Germany's invasion of Russia:The players in our drama were now scattered around the earth. Their stage had become the planet, turning in the solar spotlight that illuminated half the scene at a time, and that moved always from east to west.If nothing else can be said of this book, it certainly does not lack for audacity. The book ends, unsurprisingly, with Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which neatly sets up the sequel. The battle is described mostly indirectly, and it's actually quite amazing how propulsive this book is without having many set-piece action sequences. I'm actually at a bit of a loss to describe my vast enjoyment of what is essentially a square novel that eschews the salty language, graphic violence, and equally graphic sex I so value in my fiction. Whatever it is, though, it works, and it sets the stage for an even better sequel.

  • Luffy
    2019-04-21 18:11

    Winds of War isn't my favorite book of the (almost dwindled) year. Nor does it break into my all time top 10 books. What it is, is simply a balancing act. In its bare bones, this book is a melodrama. But this undesirable component is supported by a blissfully solemn narrative. The main cast is the Henry family. The book's entire length is about how different these people are from each other, and how much do they cross paths despite their nomadic existence. All of which has World War 2 as a canvass. The various big shots of history are not written into the book with equal effect. Hitler, unsurprisingly, is given the most treatment. In my mind I cast a Richard Dawkins lookalike as Roosevelt. Worked for me. Churchill is the one disappointment. Stalin is just average. The horrors of war are merely hinted at. Bloodshed doesn't happen by the buckets here. What we see is a world unprepared by modern warfare and global politics. The proven wisdom caught with its pants down. Since the War is not shown through the eyes of the soon to be dead, its harshness is lessened. The best thing about this book is the twists. These are plausible and satisfactory. I loved the Natalie Jastrow, Leslie Slote, and Pamela Tudsbury characters. I hated the Uncle Jastrow and had contempt for the disillusioned and delusional main character, Victor Henry. So I had a blast living with this book for a couple of weeks. It's much better than the pathetic Century trilogy by Ken Follett. I want to know what happens next. Nothing is guaranteed, but the story is not finished. Which means that the sequel theoretically can be as good as this book.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-27 16:45

    The Winds of War is the first of a 2 part series comprised of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. This book was impossible to put down. The story of the lead-up to WWII told primarily through the lens of the American Henry family, The Winds of War gives a comprehensive background on the military and political situation in a much more engaging way than a non-fiction book could. It also paints a broader picture by looking at the situation on the ground in both Europe as well as America. Despite its gigantic heft, the book moves very fast. I was sad to turn the last page, although since we were only at Pearl Harbor, I knew we still had a ways to go.The Winds of War was published in 1971, apparently after approximately 13 years of research and writing, meaning Wouk got started on it in 1958. The book does not seem dated at all -- if anything, the opposite is true. Because the book was worked on and written closer to the time of WWII itself (by a WWII veteran), the story seems much more immediate and much more realistic than more recent books about WWII. I will definitely be moving on to War and Remembrance.

  • Blaine DeSantis
    2019-04-14 19:55

    There is a whole lot to like in this sprawling family saga that takes us on the journey of the Henry Family from the late 1930's through the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then Clark Field in the Philippines. I had this book on my Kindle for over a year and one day I was talking to the family about the old Mini-Series format from the 70's and 80's (by the way are the 10-episode cable series that dominate todays TV really any different from these? I think not!), and I remembered this show and the book. So I began this almost 900 page book and a lot of things popped out at me. First of all, how horrid the TV casting was of the characters in the book. I know this is a book review, but the mini-series played a big part in why I read this and so I must digress a bit.One thing that I have always read is that TV shows or movies always seem to get the ages wrong on the participants in these historic events. In the book Pug Henry is 49 and his kids are in the early to mid-20's. In the mini-series we have 64-year old Robert Mitchum trying to portray this character and then all the other casting runs from there with actors portraying characters who are all 15-20 years younger than the actor. And who in their right mind would cast Ali McGraw and Jan Michael Vincent in their roles - I know it is always about ratings but these were terrible choices!As for the book, we have Pug Henry who is a 49-year old Navy man who has a wonderful sense of perspective and becomes FDR's eyes and ears to the early stages of WW2. His one son is a fighter pilot and other son eventually becomes a submariner, and a daughter who goes into the entertainment business. Not sure what Madeline Henry really added to the book, but maybe that will become more evident in the sequel "War and Remembrance".Here we get to see the buildup of WW2, the invasion of Poland which was allegedly due to the Poles invasion of Germany - a deliberate faked invasion made up by Hitler - as well as his defensive invasion into Russia. There is a ton of really great history in this book, including portions which give the German point of view and which are very informative and thought provoking.We see the plight of the Jews, the plight of the Russians, the desperate attempts by Churchill and Stalin to get the US into the war, the Lend-Lease program that was approved by a Congress that did not want to supply arms or supplies to England or Russia but who approved this subterfuge, the mixed convictions of the US populace that wished to remain neutral but also which had a great deal of support for helping our Allies. I will also give this to Wouk, he made up some very unlikeable characters: Pug's wife Rhoda who is a flighty flirt who drinks to much and is a spoiled brat worrying about what she will wear to meet Hitler at a reception than the fact that the Jews of Berlin are starving and being dispossessed of their businesses and property, and a woman who loves nothing more than shopping; his son Briny who is just an arrogant and moody person who falls in love with the half-Jewish Natalie Jastrow who herself has few redeeming qualities other than dashing throughout war torn Europe to see her relatives and then having Briny chase after her and continually rescue her; and I could go on for a few others, but Wouk shows that families are made of noble stock like Pug, and son Warren, and then there is the flip side of Rhoda, Briny and Madeline. We follow this crew through all these pages and know that we are slowly going to reach the inevitable climax of Pearl Harbor which sets up the next book that will dwell on the actual time the US is at War with the Axis forces of Germany, Italy and Japan.While this was more of a 4.5 on my scale I rounded the book up because of all the historical research and many of the additional facts that I learned through Wouk's writing. I will take a bit of a break now because the next book in the series is over 1050 pages long on my Kindle and for now the Henry family can blaze away in defense of America and democracy and I will catch up with their saga later.

  • Scott Axsom
    2019-04-16 19:53

    Huge, compelling read. Though I may hesitate to call the book "enlightening", I'd probably feel comfortable describing it as "broadening", particularly regarding the range of viewpoints on various players' roles and motives in the war. It contains plenteous opinions about martial tactics (particularly Germany's) and the effects of politics (particularly the US's) on the outcomes in WWII. Opinions or not, it was refreshing to see unconventional views stated so thoroughly and convincingly. I was also somewhat shocked to learn how virulently anti-war the US populace was at the time.[Minor spoiler alert: When the main character, Pug Henry, a Navy Captain having already spent one-on-one time with (in order) Hitler, Roosevelt, Mussolini and Churchill, obtains a private audience with Stalin, the needle on my disbelief suspension meter finally snapped clean off. Fortunately, it didn't detract from the saga as a whole.] All-in-all, I enjoyed the book immensely and, through it, came by a number of new perspectives regarding the conduct of the war and it's key operatives. It's a fascinating study of the personalities involved and the effects for which each of them were, arguably, responsible. Wouk has an amazing grasp of history and research, combined with a marvelous ability to keep a tale compelling through some 250,000+ words via the use of a seemingly endless array of story-telling devices. There's no deus ex machina and there's plenty of unfinished business in the end - all as it should be. I enjoyed it enough to have already begun the follow-up novel, War & Remembrance and I'll soon enough read his Pulitzer winner, The Caine Mutiny.Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I found it particularly enlightening, in light of the current state of American and European realpolitik, to learn how Roosevelt was viewed by many at the time vs. how he's generally viewed today. A fascinating contrast, and particularly pertinent at this moment in history.

  • Negin
    2019-04-11 17:07

    This story, told through the eyes and lives of a Navy family, begins in 1939 and ends right after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It’s certainly not a quick read. It’s long, over 800 pages long. Reading it was tedious at times, especially all the details with war strategy and military plans, neither of which interest me much at all. However, I’m so glad that I stuck with it. It’s not great literature, but the story and portrayal of characters are what made it for me. I especially loved the patriarch of the family, Victor “Pug” Henry – strong, upright, old school, my type of man. I look forward to reading the sequel. While writing this review, I just remembered that Herman Wouk also wrote “Don’t Stop the Carnival” which I read more than thirty years ago and loved. Totally different subject matter however, but one that I can relate to somewhat, since we live in the Caribbean. Here are some of my favorite quotes. “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”This one refers to the relief that Victor Henry felt after being in Berlin for a while. I can relate to this, since I feel that Americans are more genuine than most. I always say that you know where you stand with them. I know that others reading this may not appreciate my generalization, but oh well. “Victor Henry loved being back among American faces, American talk, offhand open manners, laughter from the diaphragm and not from the face muscles, not a bow or a clicked pair of heels, not a woman’s European smile, gleaming on and off like an electric sign.”I didn’t even know that there’s a miniseries based on the book, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see it anytime soon.

  • Debbie
    2019-04-03 16:45

    The cover says.."Grand..Grandiose..Compelling" and I must agree wholeheartedlyI just finished this huge classic wonderful piece of engrossing fiction based on the beginning of WWII history. It begins in 1939. Vicariously through a military family named the Henry's, we get more than a birds eye view of how things manifested. In this book, I swear, every page you feel as though you must have taken a trip back in time. I chose this book because I'm quite attracted to WWII fiction but I wanted to read something where someone tells me why? What was it like before? How did it get to the point of war and why? I know it was Europe & Pacific but how and why? This book tackles all of my curious questions all rolled up into a family saga with romance, adventure, countless facts and irresistible story. What can I say? It was over a thousand pages. There is too much to say. But I enjoyed every bit of it. I learned so much. It made me even more intrigued and caused me to do online historical research. What more can be asked for when it comes to Historical Fiction? To be entertained and learn at the same time is everything I love about this genre. I have the second book and look forward to starting it soon. This book stops at 1941 as the Henry's and the United States get into the war. I look forward to the second book to learn more about my country's involvement and the Henry's in the war. I give this 6 stars. Pretty close to perfect for me. I will read more books by this author. He is definitely to be heralded for such a saga, such a large successful work. I do recommend this to real Historical Fiction lovers and those who are willing to give some time to its 1047 pages..but you won't be sorry for devoting the time. I'm going to be jumping back in soon.

  • Lori
    2019-03-27 16:57

    This novel was well worth every one of its 850 plus pages. I loved how Wouk presented all sides of WWII and how the countries involved made the choices they did. What a wonderful history lesson... camouflaged in a great story. In many ways this reminded me a lot of a Ken Follett novel. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-04-03 13:08

    This book really lagged in the middle and temporarily took all of my high hopes with it. It did actually pick up towards the end and the end does leave you wanting to jump into the sequel. The problem was that Wouk was prone to lectures... Lengthy monologues about history. I do love reading about history but I prefer to do that in non-fiction rather than being lectured in fiction. The reason that it picked up at the end was because the monologues ceased and the action picked up. The characters are good and overall I do like the story. I just didn't love it.As for the audio - I listened to this guy on The Caine Mutiny and didn't have any issues. This time I struggled, though, over a few things. Maybe because this is a much longer audio? The weird thing was that he needs to take a breath in odd places and it actually changes the meaning of the sentence or your understanding of who is talking. It's very strange. He's also excellent with accents but not with voices, which created some additional confusion over who was talking at times.

  • Marquise
    2019-04-13 17:51

    Although my review is only for the first book in the duology, these three things I have to say about this installment also can apply to the second book. Let's see...One, Herman Wouk has a very noticeable tendency to write preachily and moralisingly. Those fictional "excerpts" from the also fictional German general's memoirs placed at the start of each part and before certain chapters are obviously just an excuse to indulge in lecturing on history and Germany and America's role in WWII. I am not sure how many real German memoirs this author read before writing, but what he makes the general say is often a blatant strawman argument that seems to be there just so Wouk will have a chance to "counter-argue" and "debunk" supposed apologia and justifications by the vanquished side. Yes, there were definitely that sort of people, but unless you happen to be like Jodl or Göring, much of it doesn't even sound like what career generals would say. Second, protagonist character Victor Henry's nickname shouldn't be Pug but Forrest Gump. The man is a poster child for the Forrest Gump Syndrome. He's friends with every top dog and big name in America, and somehow manages to be at the right place and at the right time for every single blasted major turning point! If not him, then one of his two sons or the Jastrows. That's unbelievable and robs the saga of credibility; the author should've limited himself to placing the main leads on a single major theatre with just occasional incursions into the others instead of making him stumble into everyone everywhere from Europe to America to Asia. Third, I sadly am left withour having found yet one WWII novel set in the Pacific theatre of operations that I've liked. Come on, writer folks! Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, Okinawa... You can't possibly be lacking in inspiration with battles like these! On the positive side, this wasn't bad as a whole, it has interesting moments, especially in the first half and towards the end (the middle is rather forgettable). It just suffers from overstretched plot and an overambitious narrative arc that's not handled well.

  • Laura
    2019-04-13 19:04

    Just arrived from Australia through BM.What a magnificent book, one of the best books on World War II I have ever read.This first volume tells the saga of Victor "Pug" Henry, a middle-aged Naval officer and confidant of the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.In my opinion, the main point of this book is the accurate description of the development of World War II, starting with the Nazi's occupation in Poland. Russian's fight was the following historical event and this volume ends with the Pearl Harbor attack.Foreword:Peace, if it ever exists, will not be based on the fear of war, but on the love of peace. It will not be the abstaining from an act, but the coming of a state of mind. In this sense the most insignificant writer can serve peace, where the most powerful tribunals can do nothing.by Julian BendaOpening lines:Commander Victor Henry rode a taxicab home from the Navy Building on Constitution Avenue, in a gusty gray March that matched his mood.The Winds of War is a 1983 miniseries which was made based on this book.The sequel of this book is War and Remembrance which I will start to read pretty soon since I cannot wait to know what happens next.

  • JoAnne Pulcino
    2019-04-02 15:51

    THE WINDS OF WAR (The Henry Family,#1)Herman WoukContinuing my love affair with the “Golden Oldies” this is a book that should be required reading for all Americans as it is the definite novel of the stunning impact of war and its gigantic toll on the world and individual families. WINDS OF WAR is the epic masterpiece of historical fiction of the Great American novel of the Greatest Generation. This is the crowning achievement of one of America’s greatest authors and story tellers. Beginning with World War II in WINDS OF WAR and followed by WAR AND REMEMBRANCE these spellbinding narratives encompass the global events and battles in great and fascinating detail while wrapping the story around a single American family surrounded by war.Mr. Wouk’s amazing accomplishment is without equal when writing about all the tragedy, the heroism, the horror, and the romance the fast paced drama and the patriotism in this astounding book and its sequel.THE WINDS OF WAR was made into a very successful TV miniseries in 1983 starring Robert Mitchum. WAR AND REMEMBRANCE was made into an also very successful TV miniseries in 1988 starring Robert Mitchum. Highly Recommended

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-04-21 14:56

    I would have liked it more if it hadn't turned so blatantly into a soap-opera. You'll probably find it interesting but you'll also probably be exasperated by some of the characters. This I suppose speaks to how well they're written....but it's still a soap opera. This was a big series in it's time and the attempt to wind a romance into WWII including the Jewish population and the concentration camp death camp experience didn't work that well for me.

  • Tea Jovanović
    2019-04-15 13:05

    Dear readers worldwide, together with Mr. Wouk's agent I would like to come to some information that you can help me with... We need to found out who was the latest publisher of various Mr. Wouk's titles in your countries, the year of publication and the name of translator... Any information you give us will be of great help. Thank you in advance! Best wishes, TeaPS. Please, send me those information via Inbox... :)

  • Jackie Smith
    2019-04-22 14:13

    This is the first book to read, followed by War and Remembrance. I was a baby when WWII broke out and my Dad was a sailor who went to New Guinea. I wanted to know more about it than can be found in an ordinary history book. The author was true to facts and places, fleshing out the events with believable characters. I loved reading these two books for their facts and for the pure pleasure of reading really good books. I had visited Normandie in France, Poland, two of the death camps, Pearl Harbor, and Italy. These books really put it all together for me.

  • Marne
    2019-04-25 13:13

    The book, made into a popular miniseries in 1983, follows the events leading up to the US entry into WWII by following one Navy family. I thought the depiction of military life was spot-on. In particular, the concept of "it's not what you know, but who knows you." I saw one reviewer critique the many opportunities given to Pug just because the President encountered him once and trusted him. But this actually resonated with me - with many of those "big wigs," when they find a person, regardless of rank or circumstance, that they can trust...they tend to go to that person more than you'd expect. "Roosevelt liked [Pug] because he was knowledgeable, got things done, and kept his mouth shut." And Pug proved his worth repeatedly.It was well researched, and the characters were interesting, credible, and appealing (even Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. And yes, Pug interacts with all of them), but wow, was it long. At one point, I felt I had been reading for the actual duration of WWII. There were whole sections "cut" from a German General's book that Pug translated. Those were such a slog I ended up skimming them.Overall, a decent read...but it only deserved 498 pages of my reading budget. Not 898 pages.

  • Stephen Hayes
    2019-04-24 20:56

    I've just finished reading The winds of war for the second time, about 25 years after reading it the first time. I had never thought that I would re-read it -- it just seemed too long. It was not that I hadn't enjoyed reading it, but it seemed that once in a lifetime was enough.And then my wife bought the DVDs of the TV series based on the book, and we began watching it. In the first episode I was struck by the trouble that had gone into making it. It was not all shot on location, of course, and some of the locations no longer exist. But setting up a 20-second scene of someone entering a building and taking care to avoid anachronisms was quite impressive. The Second World War is history, and there are plenty of history books about it. What most of them fail to show, however, is how it affected ordinary families, and this is what author Herman Wouk tries to show. Of course it is contrived. While almost everything that happens in the book has some parallel in actual events, having all these things happen to one family is a bit too much. The protagonist, and paterfamilias is Victor "Pug" Henry, a somewhat dour and taciturn US navy officer, who is stationed in Berlin as naval attache about six months before the war begins. His wife Rhoda, who is something of a social butterfly, whose horizon does not extend much beyond clothes and shopping and hobnobbing with celebrities, enjoys the parties and invitations to spend weekends with Nazi officials and businessmen who have profited by their rule. Her husband finds these difficult to stomach, but attends out of a sense of duty, for the opportunities for intelligence that they provide. When the war begins the Henrys' younger son Byron is trapped in Poland in front of the advancing German army, with a girl, Natalie Jastrow who decided on a whim that she wanted to visit her Polish cousins in the village from which her parents had emigrated. By such devices of giving very different people family ties, Wouk manages to show quite a range of the effects of the war on one family -- from Polish peasants to an isolationist US senator. While one of Pug Henry's daughters-in-law witnesses the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbout, on the other side of the world, the other daughter-in-law is trapped with her baby as an enemy alien in Italy when Mussolini declares war on the US. Pug Henry himself manages to meet Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin in person, and to fly in a British bomber on a raid over Berlin, and later to visit the Russian front linhe when the Germans are trying to encircle Moscow. While on one level it seems improbable that all this could hapen to one man, or to one family, it does help to show how many ordinary people were affected by the war. When I remarked to a friend that I thought that it did seem a bit improbable, and he pointed out that nobody complains about the many and varied adventures experienced by the characters in Homer's Odyssey. And by stretching relationships a bit, there are similar things in our own family. My father-in-law, Keith Greene, fought for the Allies and was captured in Tobruk, and was a prisoner of war in Italy. His 3rd cousin, Rudolf Schrader, was part of the German army that invaded Poland, and was killed there in the first month of the war. Such things happened, and they happened to many families, and it is something of this that Wouk manages to convey in his book, while maintaining a high level of historical accuracy. One of the things that seemed quite strange to me was the degree to which civilian airlines seemed to operate in war time. On checking up on it, I discovered that it was so, and that BOAC (the British Overseas Airways Corporation), for example, maintained flights to neutral Sweden, even though it would have meant flying over German-occupied Norway.

  • Wendy
    2019-04-16 19:53

    It can be a struggle to read non-fiction books about complex historical events and truly assimilate the information without letting it go in one ear and out the other. Winds of War, a novel set in the years leading up to WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, filters history through one phenomenally connected US naval family. Somehow this slight fictionalization, the mere addition of a smaller human story to the gargantuan political one, provides the right amount of perspective to make this an interesting (and educational) book about History. Because when you get down to it, that's what this is--an enormous, very much readable, chronology of the events leading to WWII. The patriarch of the Henry clan is Victor "Pug" Henry, a senior naval officer who just wants to command a ship, but who finds himself sent off on various diplomatic assignments to Germany and Soviet Russia instead on President Roosevelt's every whim. This convenience of plot allows Pug to rub elbows with Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and the like. Far fetched? Yes. Fascinating? Hell yeah. The other Henry clan members likewise find themselves spread far across the globe, because author Wouk wants to ensure that we readers get a front-row seat in as many (literal) Theaters of this War as possible. The eldest son becomes an aviator and is sent to Pearl Harbor to await the arrival of you-know-what. The younger "black sheep" son Byron opts out of the navy (for as long as he can) to study art in Italy, where he falls for a Jewish-American girl. On a visit to Warsaw to find her father's estranged family Byron finds himself in the midst of a German surprise attack on the city. You can guess where this story arc is headed too, I'm sure. Meanwhile, daughter Madeline gets a job with a New York radio biz, and Pug's wife Rhoda starts an elicit affair with a scientist who is (of course!) involved with the Manhattan project. While all this human intrigue pulled me along through the first 500 pages of this 1000+ page book, I eventually began to resent the soap-operatic levels of drama that serve mainly to manipulate the characters into being exactly where the author needs them to be at a specific time in history. I can't imagine the amount of work that went into choreographing this hugely complex dance, but I could always tell that the strings were there. Byron's Jewish wife, of course, "needs" to stay in Europe to presumably bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust in Wind's follow-up volume, War and Remembrance, and so she spends 800 pages of this book battling bureaucratic red tape and unlucky coincidences. My favorite part of the book follows Pug's brief post as naval attache to the American embassy in 1930's Berlin. There are some great little moments as Pug witnesses the slow transformation of the city, from government officials to the lowliest of waiters, into weird, war-ready automatons. I suspect Wouk must have based much of this section on the real-life US ambassador Dodd, whom I read about concurrently in Erik Larsson's Garden of Beasts (though Pug is a much more interesting and sympathetic character, in my opinion). I also liked the occasional snippets of fictional German General von Roon, who provides the "official" German counter-explanations for their entry to WWII. However this book is so long that I eventually became impatient and eager for the end, and while I still plan to eventually read War & Remembrance, I need a long recovery first!

  • Kelly ...
    2019-04-19 16:58

    I have read both The Winds of War and its sequel, War and Remembrance numerous times, though this is the first time I have listened to either. I keep re-reading these books because they are extraordinarily good. This book ends shortly after Pearl Harbor and War and Remembrance takes up the story from there. Mr Wouk masterfully interweaves the fictional Henry family into the events of WWII. Through their adventures and struggles we see events in Berlin during the late 1930s, we experience the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we live the fear of being (or loving one who is) Jewish. We explore Poland during the initial attacks, and Italy when Mussolini declares war. We travel to Russia during the Germans insurgence into that country. The Henry family are a United States Navy family -- important and highly ranked, brand new and brash lieutenants, wives and daughters. They interact with the real characters of the War including FDR, Hitler and Churchill. We meet many admirable and not so admirable fictional people, and many admirable and not so admirable real people. Mr Wouk allows the fictional and real characters to interact in so many small ways that it is easy to forget which characters are real. Before I read this book the first time I knew very little about WWII. I was young and ignorant of the time and place and had little interest in changing that fact. This book sent me running to find more information and I have been a big fan of this period of history ever since. I have read many, many books about the war since. But none -- fiction or nonfiction -- have ever challenged me and entertained me as much as these books.I like books which entertain and educate, but I detest books that are dry or difficult to read. In my opinion, the only way a book can meet all of these requirements is for the author to portray intriguing, complicated and flawed characters. Mr Wouk does this. Pug is stubborn, obstinate and egotistical, as well as being brilliant and honorable. Rhoda is selfish and flighty, as well as being loyal. Byron is impetuous, but is also brave, ardent and eager. Natalie is judgmental, but is also devoted and dutiful. They are unique, interesting and very real. They are not cartoonish in any way.Mr Pariseau is an excellent reader. I had so many preconceived ideas about how this book should sound. I had their voices in my head already. I had the temperature of the book already decided, and knew exactly how I would read this book because I have read it so many times. Mr Pariseau read with subtlety, and exquisite humility. He doesn't overreach which could be easy to do given the huge number of characters. I found that I could listen with ease, almost forgetting that someone was reading to me. This is the best thing I could say, and so he deserves all of those 5 stars, and more.

  • Vibina Venugopal
    2019-03-30 19:07

    Had I not known the book's genre I would taken for granted the book to be non-fiction, how dumb isn't...The mix of real and fictitious character works the real charm...The familys of Jastrows and Henrys all bring out their own strong point based up on their own cultural difference making a point clear that, out cultural background can blind or help us see certain in a way that might be for good or for bad...I loved Natalie Jastrow for her strong will and the determination to get things through her beliefs rather than plain set of notions..Aron Jastrow had lot of guts to remain in Italy in-spite of the threat lingering around...Byron who later married Natalie is a real charmer with his set of thoughts and way of life..All characters in the novel have strong personality unlike other novels where just hand around without much do to...Pug has his own worries about his not so good career and his low persona...Each character's vantage beautifully portrays different angles to the same situation is very unique to Herman's writing..The book gives crisp accounts of the political and military scenario and tactics with all details..Hitlers regime his internal tactics was another interesting part that I loved reading but there were at times bit boring for me with too many details to follow...Written years ago I didn't even feel it out of date, only certain writers have an aura to aged elegantly..The book is totally engaging and engrossing that could feel as huge in the beginning but once you get the hang of it , you would enjoy every bit of reading it..After reading this I am really looking forward to read the sequel "War and remembrance".

  • Larry Bassett
    2019-04-25 15:57

    I will not try to tell the short version of this story other than to say that is about a family with the good fortune of having connections to all the important events of WWII. Improbable but meaningful tensions are what novels are all about, right? Well, this book is filled from cover to cover with cigarettes, cigars and pipes. So much smoking. Havana cigars are especially popular. Does everyone have to smoke?Astounding connections abound. The patriarch for example:"You know, I've now met Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, and tonight I may shake hands with Stalin." Not to spoil but yes, he does meet Stalin and voices a meaningful toast when others are at a loss for words. I guess they didn't have Herman Wolk writing their lines for them.And Leslie Slote, the ever suffering diplomat who looses one love to the son and another to the father. All of this comes together in one 888 page opus that covers, firsthand, the world events of the Nazi attempt to conquer the world up until Pearl Harbor. Trips to the White House and the front lines of the Soviets trying to hold back the invasion of the Germans and more historic events are all covered by on the scene reporting, often including written summaries and analysis sent directly by diplomatic pouch to Roosevelt by our patriarch. James Michener and Leon Uris would be in good company with Wouk at a dinner party. Ah, the tales they could tell! And did...War and Remembrance is only about 2/3 as long but I think I had better get started right away.

  • P
    2019-04-11 20:14

    This book is an excellent chronicle of the events leading up to WWII, using fictional characters to personalize the telling of the story. While the accuracy and detail of the history is amazing, my problem was with the characters, and (what I saw as) the lack of anything particularly exciting or even interesting in what was happening in their lives. It's a long book, and I kept waiting for some intrigue, some duplicity, some action to liven up the story, but it never occurred. All the lead-up to Pearl Harbor and the onset of America's active participation in the war was well told, but then, with respect to the characters - nothing.Maybe it was just me.

  • Pat Camalliere
    2019-04-17 20:53

    Did any of you catch the Sunday morning interview on CBS with Herman Wouk? This wonderful gentleman is now 102 years of age and still active. I have loved his books, and especially this one from my Top 10 list! Here's the link to the interview on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTuvw...

  • Ellie Sorota
    2019-04-21 18:53

    What a wonderful read! If I could give it 10 stars I would. The writing is wonderful and the plot is a page turner without overriding the characters. This was my first time reading Wouk and I understand his popularity. He composes quite the page turner while maintaining a character driven story. Centered around the Henry family who is scattered across the western world as WWII reaches a crescendo, the story jumps from character to character and weaves connections along the way. Wouk is a master and show-don't-tell and what he left unsaid always impressed me almost as what he did describe. Every few chapters you'll find a brief war summary which is helpful for us armchair historians. The main character, Pug, translates a best selling German perspective of the war (postwar) and it's presented every few chapters as events unfold to provide the German perspective. Quite compelling. Start reading!

  • Melissa Powers
    2019-04-19 13:15

    Simply amazing. Never have I read a more comprehensive narrative of World War Two. Not only did I fall in love with the Henry Family, but the amount of historical context in this book is incredible. I've learned so much. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time. I can't wait to read the sequel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. But be aware, it's very long and packed full of history so read it with patience, the pay off is huge!

  • Lisa
    2019-04-04 21:11

    This is one long book, too long. 45 hours of listening and it may be the only time I wish I had chosen the abridged version. Much could have been cut out of this book to make it more enjoyable. Fine characters and stories but the in depth historical text was just too much. I liked it but won't be reading the second book in this series, one was good.

  • Jerry B
    2019-04-14 16:14

    A good friend lent us this nearly 900-page tome, only adding to what seems to be a spate of war stories for us over the past year – and serving as our introduction to Wouk. Perhaps most famous for “The Caine Mutiny”, for which Wouk won a Pulitzer, he and his wife nevertheless invested over a decade of research into his two sagas about WWII and the Henry family, including both this book and its sequel “War and Remembrance”, that latter continuing the tale from the Pearl Harbor attack to the war’s end, with an emphasis on the Holocaust. Wouk tapped into his own naval experience in the war for all three of his famous works; and meanwhile used both his lifelong practice and scholarship of Judaism to illuminate the varying attitudes virtually throughout the world during the period.While the author claims (and we have no reason to disbelieve) that his history is as accurate as possible, the engaging story of the Henry family principals is totally fictional. “Pug” Henry is a Navy Captain struggling with various “desk” jobs when his only desire is to command a ship. His assignment to Berlin during the opening of Nazi hostilities in Europe gives us an insider’s view to that part of the history. Moreover, the (fictional) writings of German “General Roon” give us that country’s view on world developments, with some rather insightful criticism of Hitler’s various wartime strategic decisions. Wife Rhoda is a typical “Mrs. Officer”, more interested in shopping and parties than anything. Daughter Madeleine foregoes college to intern and then succeed as a brilliant producer for a radio personality (no doubt capitalizing on Wouk’s several years working in that medium). Son Warren is a naval aviator and chip off the old block; while son Byron, eventually a submariner, roams about Europe and falls in love with a Jewish girl to some dismay of his Catholic family, that relationship serving as an important vehicle for Wouk to detail the plight of Europe’s Jewish population. Meanwhile President Roosevelt takes quite a liking to the Henry’s, and his several tete-a-tetes with Pug give us insight into the American political considerations of entering the war.Obviously, there is much to digest in a work of this significance. The tracing of the family is entertaining, even suspenseful in sections, with all kinds of relationship issues thrown into the mix. The history of the war was at the least extremely educational, and the writings of “Roon” almost amusingly absurd in their perverted logic from the Nazi viewpoint. While perhaps some might find the story a little tame in this era of Clancy novels and 24-hour news cycles, we suspect this book will continue to have legs for a long time into the future. Now we have to decide whether to tackle the sequel – but we suppose we need to find out what happens to Pug and the crew!

  • Robert Delikat
    2019-04-15 16:02

    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.

  • Katie
    2019-04-06 13:05

    I loved Wouk's writing. It was, as other reviews say, compelling and spell binding.I found my major criticism of the book was I grew to intensely dislike the family. I understand the Henry family being a vehicle with which to tell the story but I would have been interested in having other fully developed characters' perspectives outside of their interaction with the Henrys. I found, for the majority, them to be caricatures of people living in the '40's and '50's; very "Leave it to Beaver"-esque. Maybe it's just because I didn't live then and have no way of relating to how people may have acted differently/did act except via shows filmed around that time, "Leave it to Beaver," "I Love Lucy," etc. but I grew extremely tired of their trials by the end. Particularly Natalie's. She was a ridiculous individual with her mood swings, expected but all of a sudden falling in love with Byron, whisking away to Italy during a war in Europe and her grandiose, self righteous speech. From a feminist vantage, I had problems with her attempt to be written as a strong willed woman who wouldn't back down (as seen with Slote) to laying down like a dog at it's master's feet once she realized she loved Byron. Yes, she did still go to fetch her uncle but with the promise to obey Byron and come home by the time he'd told her to. I didn't see her as anything but a blithering nincompoop who made stupid decisions who only needed to be tamed by the "right man."I didn't really connect with any of them for the whole of the book (Byron for a bit, Victor for a longer time) and I found that frustrating and a hinderance to my finishing the book. I loved the accounts of the war action, the real pages from the book written by a German official who went through the Nuremburg Trials but I read as fast as I could to get to the next such account. I enjoyed the panoramic view of the war's beginnings culminating with the United States entry at the end of the book because I hadn't experienced such an overview of the minutia and what other world leaders were thinking when versus their preparedness for a world war.I would recommend it and maybe I'm just too critical and hateful towards people right now always. I plan on reading the second one but not right away; I need a break from the Henrys. I would like to see how the US's entrance into the war is handled and, hopefully, more of the war action sans the love affairs and infidelity but I imagine it to be futile for hope for such.

  • Antonio Nunez
    2019-04-18 20:06

    The Winds of War is an excellent book, an old-fashioned big book about a great war. It tells the story of a naval family, the Henrys from mid 1939 to the Pearl Harbor attack. The family patriarch, Victor, AKA Pug, has gained the ear of President Roosevelt, who uses him to gather intelligence and to serve as a sounding board on political and military issues. Thus he meets Hitler, Goering, Mussolini, Churchill and Stalin. He and his family manage to be present at many key moments: the invasion of Poland and the bombing of Warsaw, the Battle of Britain, the siege of Moscow, the attacks on the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. Pug's wife and children, as as their spouses and assorted relatives and hangers-on provide many opportunities for varied locales and incidents, from country weekends with Nazi cronies to a wedding celebration among Polish Jews, to the Babi Yar massacre in Kiev, to Mussolini declaring war on the US in the Piazza Venezia. The action is interspersed with analysis and comments from the memoirs of the fictitious Nazi General Von Roon, who is an astute if biased observer of these world-historical events. These interludes are very interesting and show, as does the rest of the book, the copious research that Wouk undertook for over 15 years. The book is a triumph, I regret to say, much more enjoyable than Grossman's Life and Fate which some have regarded as the equivalent or War and Peace for WWII. I know I am being cheeky, but Wouk's (or his characters') views about WWII are much sounder than those of Tolstoy about the Napoleonic wars (any doubters should read War and Peace's epilogue, where Tolstoy spends over a hundred pages trying to prove that Napoleon was irrelevant and was rather a mediocre general. This is partly why I rank Anna Karenina higher as a novel than War and Peace. But that's another story. Coming back to Winds, I am looking forward to War and Remembrance, the second volume. And to the TV miniseries made in the late 70s and also highly rated. Although I struggle to see Robert Mitchum as Pug Henry. He's a great actor but is too tall for the role.