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The Winds of War

(The Henry Family #1)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  47,444 ratings  ·  1,337 reviews
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 th
Paperback, 896 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published November 15th 1971)
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Tony Try Ken Follet's, The Century Trilogy (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World & Edge of Eternity.)
Gayle Siebert More of the same. I scanned a lot. I find so many of books written 50plus years ago are like this, very verbose by today's standards. A sign of the…moreMore of the same. I scanned a lot. I find so many of books written 50plus years ago are like this, very verbose by today's standards. A sign of the times, I suppose. It could very easily have been edited to 500 pages without losing anything IMO.(less)

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Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“They found the narrow tarred roads filling with people on foot and horse-drawn wagons laden with children, furniture, squawking geese, and the like. Some peasants drove along donkeys piled with household goods, or a few mooing cows. Marching soldiers now and then forced the car off the road. A troop of cavalry trotted by on gigantic dappled horses. The dusty riders chatted as they rode, strapping fellows with helmets and sabres glittering in the morning sun. They laughed, flashing white teeth, ...more
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 canv
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Desp ...more
Blaine DeSantis
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 bo ...more
Scott Axsom
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 a ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 p ...more
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cover says.."Grand..Grandiose..Compelling" and I must agree wholeheartedly

I 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
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW. I liked this one. (More than I thought I would.) It is historical fiction WWII. It was so close to 5 stars.....I still may change it from 4 to 5. I first read this author's The Caine Mutiny not long ago and I really enjoyed the ease of his writing. So I picked this one up and thought the same thing. I loved the writing and that this book was about war AND people. The war strategies, the thoughts, the fear, and the willingness to step up and step in, were well done here. The family drama was ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
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.
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 a ...more
Hybrider Versuch so etwas wie der Tolstoj des zweiten Weltkriegs zu werden. Herman Wouk lässt seinen Helden Pug Henry, der eigentlich nur ein Kommando auf einem Schiff will, einmal um die Welt reisen und dabei in den Krieg geraten. Auf seinem Weg um den Globus hat er gleich mehrere Dates mit dem amerikanischen Präsidenten Franklin D. Roosevelt, trifft Hitler und ein paar andere Größen des Dritten Reiches, tauscht Komplimente mit Churchill und verblüfft Stalin mit kessen Trinksprüchen, dabei ist ...more
Kelly ...
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 sho
Carol Storm
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I hesitate to review this book because while I've spent hundreds of hours skimming through it at the library, I've never actually sat down and read it cover to cover. And of course, I did see the TV miniseries and loved it! Anyway, here are my impressions:

What sinks this book (more than the miniseries) is not the way Pug Henry is everywhere all at once, or even how completely admirable he is as a character. It's the way Herman Wouk gives such a distorted picture of modern America, modern life, a
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Misfit
Recommended to Laura by: Wanda
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
JoAnne Pulcino
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
THE WINDS OF WAR (The Henry Family,#1)

Herman Wouk

Continuing 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 wit
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yes, the protagonist's life is far too well-connected, and it takes quite a suspension of disbelief to accept Pug Henry's vast experience as being anything close to realisitic. However, once you do jump over that hurdle, what you find is a completely engrossing, well-written historical drama. What I think I admired most about this epic story is Herman Wouk's ability to create so many different characters, while giving each their own distinct voices and personas--the actual historical figures as ...more
Tea Jovanović
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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, Tea

PS. Please, send me those information via Inbox... :)
Jackie Smith
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dan Smith
Recommended to Jackie by: Carolyn Mason
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 ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2017-book-bingo
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 o
Stephen Hayes
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
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: arm-chair historians, frequent flyers
Recommended to Wendy by: Dad
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 in ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough book to rate. Overall, I wish this had been required reading for discussion in some history class I took, but it is not a great novel. It is too long (we get it about the passport already!), and the whole extended Henry family soap opera is annoying (just let her go!), and the central plot device is preposterous--but not in a funny way: I mean if Pug Henry gets to meet every celebrity in the world, why not embrace the zaniness of this premise and have him travel around with the M ...more
Vibina Venugopal
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 h ...more
Larry Bassett
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Hitle
Dec 07, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Pat Camalliere
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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:
Ellie Sorota
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
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 ...more
Melissa Powers
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
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Discussion Questions 2 69 Mar 06, 2017 08:40AM  
***spoiler alert***Do you wish Pug and Rhoda had stayed together 19 82 Mar 06, 2017 08:39AM  
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Herman Wouk is a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jewish American author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.

Herman Wouk was born in New York City into a Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia. After a childhood and adolescence in the Bronx and a high school diploma from Townsend Harris High School, he earned

Other books in the series

The Henry Family (2 books)
  • War and Remembrance (The Henry Family, #2)
“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.” 50 likes
“The girl you marry and the woman you must make a life with are two different people.” 8 likes
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