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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.
106 of 108 people found this review helpful
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.
71 of 73 people found this review helpful
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
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
Wouk tells the story of the rumblings and beginnings of World War II through the lives of an American Naval family. The everyday lives of the Henry family are controlled and manipulated by the events of the late thirties and early forties. A truly interesting and fascinating tale that handles the issues and events leading up to the US involvement in WWII culminating in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in1941. A great prelude to the sequel War And Remembrance A thoroughly entertaining but also informative story.