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War and Remembrance Paperback – February 5, 2002
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About the Author
Herman Wouk's acclaimed novels include the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Caine Mutiny; Marjorie Morningstar; Don't Stop the Carnival; Youngblood Hawke; Inside, Outside; The Hope; and The Glory.
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Top customer reviews
In “War and Remembrance,” Wouk concentrates on the years of World War II, when Commander Victor “Pug” Henry is serving in various capacities, first as the commander of a cruiser in the Pacific theater, and then as an aide to President Franklin Roosevelt who carries out several special assignments. Another major theme of “War and Remembrance” is Byron Henry’s search for his Jewish wife and baby son, now trapped with her uncle inside Nazi-conquered Europe. Through their experiences, Wouk accurately captures the horrors that those subjugated by the Nazis faced, especially inside the Nazi extermination camps.
As “War and Remembrance” unfolds, America has just entered the war and the Henry family is in turmoil. Pug Henry arrives at Pearl Harbor the day after the Japanese attack and discovers that the battleship he is supposed to command has been sunk. Rhoda Henry is having an affair and wants a divorce, and Pug is developing romantic feelings for an Englishwoman half his age. The Henrys’ oldest son Warren is a naval aviator aboard an aircraft carrier. Byron, now married to Natalie Jastrow, is serving as a naval officer aboard a submarine. He is frantically worried about his wife, son, and her uncle, virtual prisoners of the Nazis, their lives increasingly imperiled because they are Jews.
I don’t want to give away any more of the story, but I can assure you that “War and Remembrance” is a magnificent novel in every respect. In fact, I think it is even better in many ways than its predecessor is. The characters all face greater degrees of danger and despair as the war drags on. Many scenes in the book – especially those in the Nazi death camps – are brutally realistic and heartbreaking to read. Despite its great length (the paperback version runs to over 1000 pages,) the book is never dull or boring. In addition, despite the complexity of the many subplots, everything comes together to form a suspenseful, shattering climax that will leave readers, at the end of the book, clamoring for more…
“War and Remembrance” is without question one of Herman Wouk’s two great masterpieces of fiction (the other being “The Winds of War). I actually prefer it to “The Winds of War” because of its historical accuracy and emotional intensity. it I’ve now read it several times, and each time I do, I get more out of it, and I never fail to become completely engrossed in the lives of each character. This book is one primary reason why Wouk remains one of my favorite American novelists. Most highly recommended.
Both Winds of War and War and Remembrance are fantastic books, taking the reader from 1939 to 1945, from the leadup to war through the war itself, from multiple perspectives. The Henry family, the Jastrow family, the Tudsburys, and several other relations and friends. Historical personages come to life as they interact with these characters. Pug Henry meets many important people and does many important things, and through him we get both a personal view, and a "macro" view of the war. Interspersed throughout these POV chapters are "excerpts" from a fictitious German general's book about the war, which provides both the German view of things, as well as a larger ovierview of various operations and battles, which is extremely helpful, even if the reader is well-versed in WW2 history. Wouk uses these chapters to often set the scene before diving in with his characters.
This novel picks up in 1941, after Pearl Harbor, and ends in 1945. It's longer than Winds of War, but still, despite being nearly 1400 pages, I felt that it could've been longer. And that's my only criticism of this otherwise fine work. For the first 1100 pages or so, the story plods along nicely, and Wouk goes into evocative detail, at a leisurely pace. I'd seen the TV miniseries, so I knew where the story was going, but after the 1100 page mark, it's almost as if his editor told him to cut things out. There was a LOT of story left to get to, and only 250 pages left. The writing changed. He summarized more. He didn't go into much detail and things moved along quickly. I wanted to read the book mostly so I could have more details to go with some of my favorite scenes from the movie, including the ending. He gets to it all, of course, but the truncated style stands in stark contrast to the rest of the book. It is obvioulsy an editorial choice. I guess he was told the original drafts were too long. For my part, this book could've, and probably should've, been closer to 1600 pages and it would've been perfect. He wraps everything up in the final 20 pages, and he's zooming on by. It's unfortunate.
That being said, it does not spoil the experience. This is a wonderful, multi-layered story, with incisive commentary on the war and the geopolitical situation of the time. I consider these books modern classics.
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