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The Winds of War (The Henry Family #1)

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  31,339 ratings  ·  863 reviews
Follows the various members of the Henry family as they become involved in the events preceeding America's involvement in World War II.
Paperback, 1056 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1971)
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Sep 10, 2013 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Epic Historical Fiction and WWII
Recommended to sckenda by: Madame Broyles
Peace, if it ever exists, will not be based on 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. In this sense the most insignificant writer can serve peace, where the most powerful tribunals can do nothing.
--Herman Wouk

The “Winds of War” is the grandiose epic of the Henrys, an American naval family disrupted by World War II. Through the Henry family (or their lovers or friends), we trot the globe from before the German invas
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
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
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
Jul 08, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
Jackie Smith
Apr 15, 2008 Jackie Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Antonio Nunez
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
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
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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
David Todd
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.
Robert Delikat
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
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
Vibina Venugopal
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
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
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
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
Bev Davis
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
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
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
Sean Cronin
Wouk presents a history of the two years leading to Germany's attack on Europe, up to Pearl Harbor. The history is woven into a fictional story of one military family, the Henrys.
I have to give Wouk a lot of credit for diligence. Over one thousand pages of complex history that's readable, understandable and informative for laymen.
The fictional narrative carries the book along and makes the history lessons part of a "human story." A good way to approach history for those of us who are eager to l
The “Winds of War” is the first in a two-book historical fiction series chronicling World War 2 as seen through the eyes of five members of the Henry family. As a word of warning, this is an long book, but a rewarding one if you can immerse yourself into the setting and characters of this volatile period when world war was not some abstract history lesson, but a frightening reality impacting millions of families around the world!

Victor “Pug”, the father, is in his late 40’s, with dreams of comma
Apr 09, 2014 April rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history lovers. WWII buffs
Recommended to April by: my mother
Finally finished this epic novel, coincidentally on my parents 53rd wedding anniversary. This book and its sequel, War and Remembrance, were kept between two brass bookends on my upright piano as symbols of important books to read. I saw these two books every day of my young life. I even tried to read Winds of War, but it was way over my head at the time! I was three years old when Winds of War was published, not sure if my mom had it then or not, but I do remember the television mini-series qui ...more
Dave TN
I am so glad that I decided to read this novel. My father served in WWII, and because of that, I have always had an interest in it (though mainly in the South Pacific theatre, which is where he served). Other than the limited amount taught in high school and college, I had never been exposed to what was happening in Europe leading up to the USA's entrance into the war. This novel gives a very clear picture of the events as they unfolded. From what I have read, it is hailed as being very historic ...more
Larry Bassett
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
Shara Faskowitz
Feb 03, 2013 Shara Faskowitz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like historical fiction, people who are not put off by long novels
I wasn't sure that I'd enjoy reading this behemoth of a novel. I thought it was probably too much straight history, and I tend to prefer more strictly narrative writing. But Wouk turns out to be a great, vivid storyteller as he skillfully weaves the triumphs and failings of a memorable cast of characters through the world's history of 1939 to 1941, from Germany's invasion of Poland to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The protagonist, Victor "Pug" Henry is a man's man, a Navy officer who through
Kathleen Hagen
The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk, Narrated by Kevin Pariseau, produced by audible inc. and downloaded from

This narrative,and the second book,War and Remembrance, take us totally through, from before it started to the very end, WW II. The central figures are the Henry family, Victor Henry, a navy captain who spends time in various policy-making offices because he is liked by President Roosevelt; his wife, Rhoda, who has lived almost 30 years as a navy wife shut out of the main events
Tom Pile
This sprawling epic follows a group of fictional characters - a family - through a painstakingly researched recreation of the events leading up to the Second World War, in Winds of War, the first volume, and up through the end of the war in the second volume, War and Remembrance. The historical sequence, the actions of world leaders, and the events of the war are detailed and factual, but the main characters and their places in those events are fictional. It's a brilliant device to bring the his ...more
This is the first of two books recounting the story of an American family during the period just prior to and then throughout the Second World War. If we could take the real history away from it altogether, a compelling fictional drama would still remain. To mix this invented family saga in with that of the war, means that we have a novel of another order altogether.

In this first novel, we are taken inside Hitler's Berlin and allowed to see the inner workings of the regime, as experienced by Vic
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***spoiler alert***Do you wish Pug and Rhoda had stayed together 7 28 Jul 23, 2014 02:54PM  
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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...
War and Remembrance (The Henry Family, #2) The Caine Mutiny Marjorie Morningstar Don't Stop the Carnival The Hope (The Hope and the Glory, #1)

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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.” 30 likes
“The girl you marry and the woman you must make a life with are two different people.” 6 likes
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