Several years ago my uncle recommended Winds of War by Herman Wouk. At some point my dad recommended it to me as well. In fall 2013 I read Winds of War and during this winter I read the sequel War and Remembrance. The story line of the two books covers a career Navy guy and his family from 1937 to the end of World War II. After reading both I feel the story line is among the best of anything I’ve read, and I recommend the two novels to everyone.
Both novels are around 1000 pages and may look intimidating. However the writing is clear and not academic or dense like some other large works. The main character Pug Henry in 1937 gets assigned intelligence to Germany, and reports even to the president. His son Bryon is in an academic haze and finds himself an apprentice to an American Jewish author in Italy. The author Jastrow has a brilliant niece, Natalie Jastrow, in her late twenties who Bryon falls for. Pug Henry’s other son is training to be an air force pilot and starts dating the daughter of a big southern politician. Henry’s young daughter makes it in broadcasting in New York City. Henry’s wife has a story line too. Basically Winds of War shows how a family entered into the war, and as a reader one really connects with all the characters, and their environments.
If I had to pick a story line I thought the most powerful it would be the love affair of Bryan Henry and Natalie Jastrow. In the middle of Winds of War they survive the bombings in Poland, and that starts the Jastrows’ trials of trying to get out of the reach of the Nazis. Pug Henry’s story line takes him right into the propaganda of Germany preparing for war. Winds of War ends with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in late 1941.
War and Remembrance shows how the war changed these characters. The son Warren is killed in battle. There are scenes of concentration camps that are tense to read. By the end Pug Henry and his wife divorce because they loved others from their war experience. Bryon Henry and Natalie Jastrow’s romance becomes a long distance one as she is trapped in Nazi Europe while he serves on a United States submarine. In War and Remembrance as a reader I was gripped to nearly the last page to find out Natalie Jastrow’s health from a concentration camp.
I’ve heard many people say there are too many books on World War II and the Holocaust. Reading these two books I realize how important a war it was. The world would not be the same if the Nazis or Japanese won. The Allies winning that war really was the most important outcome of modern times. Herman Wouk served in World War II, and even though these novels were written decades later I think he wrote the story knowing the importance as it states in the introductions. People should read this for the amazing story lines and to learn how World War II touched everyone at that time.