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War and Remembrance School & Library Binding – February, 2002
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|School & Library Binding, February, 2002||
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By exploring the experiences of the fictional Henry family and their extended acquaintances, Wouk manages to cover virtually every aspect of this sprawling epic struggle between good and evil. There is Victor "Pug" Henry, stoic Navy captain, his dutiful bound son Warren, a Navy flyer bound for action in the Pacific, his formerly wayward son Byron, now a submarine officer who marries the Jewish woman Natalie Jastrow in Europe. Natalie herself is trapped in Italy with her Uncle, the intellectual scholar Aaron Jastrow and her baby Louis. The Nazi vice that slowly closes on the American born Natalie is excruciating yet stunningly realistic. There is Leslie Slote, the callous foreign service officer who has an epiphany when he discovers the plans for the Final Solution and there are many many others. Wouk blends the personal stories of these characters with an expositional account of the war. He uses the device of a fictional memoir of an imprisoned German officer to prsent the war from the German perspective.Read more ›
Trolling Nairobi's thrift shops at long last gave me access to one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is an epic novel, a great romance (and heaven knows how I hate those, but this one was a gem), and perhaps the best history lesson on the Second World War I have come across.
Without going into specifics about the book - which the other reviewers on the site have done so well, the things that stand out in the book are several:
One; it brings to life the Holocaust in a way that history books can never hope to compare. Auschwitz is no longer a footnote to horror - it is now a flesh and blood camp with horrifyingly banal commandants. The SS are not nameless, faceless sadists - they are normal people with an abnormal hatred.
Secondly, the philosophical-historical insights into European and German history, as seen through the mind of Aaron Jastrow, are superb.
I need not dwell on the sweeping historical views of the war of "Armin von Roon", that bring the bigger picture of the war into play.
Natalie Jastrow, in my opinion the most developed character in the book, is prepared to prostitute herself in order to save her life in Auschwitz that she may see her son again. That, to me, makes her all the more remarkable a person than if she had remained unbelievably pious. Natalie is a real human being. The only injustice Wouk does to her is not to develop her character after Auschwitz.Read more ›
For that reason, I avoided reading Herman Wouk's epics. Talk about judging a book by its cover, or in this case by its weight... But I finally did start reading these books, and was completely hooked from the first chapter of "The Winds of War". I couldn't wait to see what happened in "War and Remembrance".
I can't imagine following Wouk's suggestion that one can enjoy "War and Remembrance" on its own, without having first read "The Winds of War". Start with the first one. If you don't, you won't know what you're missing later. The characters in the saga are developed in "The Winds of War" such that it breaks your heart when they encounter all of their perils and difficulties in the second book. I've never felt such sadness about the fates of fictional characters the way I did in "War and Remembrance", but I also was exhilarated by their successes and shreds of happiness along the way.
The two minor criticisms I have with "War and Remembrance" in no way detract from the five-star rating I'm giving it. First: The book felt a bit rushed at the end. Even though most of the dangling plot threads were tied up neatly (as neatly as war allows), there were too few pages dedicated to some of the most jaw-droppingly significant events of the entire war, specifically having to do with Japan. And that leads me to criticism number two: The war in the Pacific got comparatively short shrift, as compared to Europe. I would have appreciated it if Wouk would have expounded more on Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Doolittle's raids, etc.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love reading about history this way. They should teach history in school through fictional charactersPublished 13 days ago by Cindy Caldwell
i have kept 3 books with me since college. this book, winds of war, and atlas shrugged. every 3 or 4 years, i dig these up and re-read.Published 22 days ago by Kirk Lett
Was glad to find this is now on Kindle as my paperback copies were falling apart. The writing is a bit ponderous and with subsequent re readings there are sections I tend to skip... Read morePublished 26 days ago by P. Munson-siter
Long, but well worth the time. Winds of War and War and Remembrance detail the era and the events. Hindsight and foresight in two sweeping novels.Published 1 month ago by JSB in NWI
Currently reading this great historical fiction novel a must since I finished "Winds of War" yesterday. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cecilia
This is a terrific book. It has enough story to make it fun but it has an amazing amount of history. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer