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The Winds of War (The Henry Family #1)

4.36  ·  Rating Details ·  41,446 Ratings  ·  1,098 Reviews
Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American.
ebook, 1019 pages
Published November 15th 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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Nancy Most of the book is written in the third person, with no narrator. There are sections that are a translation which Victor Henry has done of an…moreMost of the book is written in the third person, with no narrator. There are sections that are a translation which Victor Henry has done of an analysis of the German side of the war, written by a German general named Armin von Roon. Those are written in the first person, the narrator is von Roon. So there is a change of perspective periodically. (less)
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Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is always a tension in historical fiction. Make the book too historical, and you might as well man-up, append some footnotes, and make it nonfiction. Make the book too fictional, and you end up in a situation where the relatively trivial problems of the characters overshadow the bigger problems of history. I call this latter phenomenon the Kate Beckinsale Corollary, after the infamous scene in the movie Pearl Harbor where she utters the lines: "Rafe, I'm pregnant. I didn't even know until ...more
Jun 14, 2010 Michelle 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
Scott Axsom
Feb 23, 2012 Scott Axsom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huge, compelling read. Though I may hesitate to call the book "informative", I'd probably feel more comfortable describing it as "edifying", 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 broadening to see unconventional views stated so thoroughly and convincingly. I was ...more
Dec 28, 2014 Debbie 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
Nov 03, 2015 Luffy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing
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.
Sarah Anne
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
Jul 08, 2013 Laura 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
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
Jackie Smith
Apr 15, 2008 Jackie Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jan 18, 2017 Marne 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
Jan 11, 2012 Wendy 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
Vibina Venugopal
Aug 20, 2012 Vibina Venugopal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 21, 2010 Larry Bassett 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
Jun 02, 2013 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good friend lent us this nearly 900-page tome, only adding to what seems to be a spate of war stories for us over the past year – and serving as our introduction to Wouk. Perhaps most famous for “The Caine Mutiny”, for which Wouk won a Pulitzer, he and his wife nevertheless invested over a decade of research into his two sagas about WWII and the Henry family, including both this book and its sequel “War and Remembrance”, that latter continuing the tale from the Pearl Harbor attack to the war’s ...more
Kelly ...
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
Robert Delikat
May 24, 2013 Robert Delikat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
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 f
Jan 03, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Antonio Nunez
Oct 19, 2014 Antonio Nunez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Winds of War is an excellent book, an old-fashioned big book about a great war. It tells the story of a naval family, the Henrys from mid 1939 to the Pearl Harbor attack. The family patriarch, Victor, AKA Pug, has gained the ear of President Roosevelt, who uses him to gather intelligence and to serve as a sounding board on political and military issues. Thus he meets Hitler, Goering, Mussolini, Churchill and Stalin. He and his family manage to be present at many key moments: the invasion of ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a very difficult time rating this book, mixed with confusion and wonder. Initially, the book pulled me in immediately cause I love Historical Fiction. There are only a few books that I do not like due to the content or the poor characterization, but this was one remarkable in that area. A few characters left a lasting impression on me, in particular, Henry and Natalie. I thought their interactions were wonderful, it would be believable if the book turned them into a romance book only invol ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never liking running long distances - I don't seem to have the legs for it nor the ability to see the joy one gets from a mostly solely endeavor. Seldom do I see joggers smiling; more often they are grimacing as they complete their task hoping they can get a "runner's high" to propel them to the end. Well.....that's how I felt when reading The Winds of War. I knew when I picked up this tome that there would be tough slogging (it can be kind of demoralizing to realize you have read 400 pag ...more
David Todd
Oct 27, 2011 David Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this quite some time ago, and have read it at least three times since. This was my first book by Wouk to read. I love his style. I love all the research he went into to write this. As a would-be author, the thought of how much research he had to do left me wondering whether I should take the plunge to be a writer.

Wouk weaves a great tale of the Henry family and how they interacted with World War 2. This book begins early in 1939, when Victor "Pug" Henry become US Naval attache in Berlin.
Jun 03, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid historical fiction.

My dad brought up this book in conversation again and again, so I finally decided to give it a read. It centers around a navy family, the Henrys, during the build-up to America's participation in WW2. With the father working as a naval atache and then in war plans, he visits Berlin, London, and Moscow at crucial historical moments. One son follows the love of his life in Italy and Poland. The other son is an aviator stationed in Pearl Harbor. Essentially, there is a Henr
Richard Palmer
Winds of War is a vast, sweeping novel covering the complicated
international relationships leading up to World War II. It does
this by following the Henry family, whose members manage to be
involved in nearly every theatre of the war.

The scope of the book is tremendous, and the family story manages
to keep it all tied together. Wouk is very skilled at bringing
his characters into believable situations so as to give personal
witness accounts of the important developments before the war.

It is detailed
Bev Davis
Dec 30, 2010 Bev Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to learn more about WWII this is a great book to add to your list. It follows the Henrys, a naval family all over the globe. Also includes a Jewish American family, the Jastrows (including some of their European relatives) who end up connected to the Henry's by marriage.

This is the first part of a saga which includes "War & Remembrance." This book is mostly about the war from the European experience before US involvement & deals with the Isolationist policy of the US. It end
Apr 24, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed--no, really liked--this book. It was like reading Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor, except written by a female who knows I don't care about the flywheels and number of rivets on a U-boat 57XI8. And instead of a birdseye view of a possible future war, it's a sweeping view of World War II. I thought it was smart of Herman Wouk to tie these events together by telling about the goings-on of the Henry family--building characters I actually care about (again, it was hard for me to keep tra ...more
Mar 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We all know the Mini-Series based on the 1970 Herman Wouk “The Winds of War” book. I thought the series was just so-so, but this book was an excellent introduction to the pre- and slightly post- Pearl Harbor attack. This starts around 1938 with Pug Henry as our central character. Pug is a Navy captain that finds his way to meet with all the European Theater leaders and has a role advising Roosevelt. There are family issues and Pug’s son, Byron, winds up rescuing his Jewish girl (who he wants to ...more
Ironman Ninetytwo
The story seems accurate and insightful, historically speaking, still. The characterization and domestic end of the story seems somewhat less compelling than when I read it twelve years ago. Since Wouk brought it up, yes, this book can be compared to War and Peace, and that's what really highlighted the shortfalls in character development. Still worth reading, but downgraded from five stars to four.
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***spoiler alert***Do you wish Pug and Rhoda had stayed together 18 71 Dec 31, 2014 07:59PM  
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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
More about Herman Wouk...

Other Books in the Series

The Henry Family (2 books)
  • War and Remembrance (The Henry Family, #2)

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“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.” 43 likes
“The girl you marry and the woman you must make a life with are two different people.” 7 likes
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