Daniel's Reviews > War and Remembrance

War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
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's review
Jun 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviews, martial, mythology, historical
Read in May, 2011

This wasn't supposed to be my Holocaust spring. Who needs such a thing? But Bloodlands was on hold for months and months; I finally got it. War and Remembrance was on my cousin's bookshelf, an old mass-market paperback, 1400 pages of pure pulp that I'd promised to read if an easy opportunity arose. By the end my head was filled with battleships and cattle-cars and the sheer brutality of the 20th century; it left me feeling edgy and tearful.

Herman Wouk is an interesting writer, mixing history, reportage, and character-driven narrative into a frothy, "as it happened" account of WWII. He was a better writer in The Caine Mutiny, certainly; wartime service aboard a naval ship in the Pacific gave his observations a primary reliability rarely achieved in W&R or The Winds of War, and nothing in these latter books impacted me as much as CM's astonishing conclusions on the requirements of service and the nature of command.

Still, the "War" books have several things going for them. First, they are immensely readable and, where length becomes a burden, skimmable. Secondly, Wouk wrote them late, in the 1970s, and touches upon the dichotomies of American hegemony (Cold War, the middle east, genocide) which came to dominate the second half of the 20th century. As a Jew looking at America, as an American looking at the world, and as a writer looking into himself, Wouk lays out a vast array of material to ponder, and does a wonderful job of getting out of the way.

Now I must have a Jane Austen chaser.
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Daniel Gaeta1 wrote: "Did you like Bloodlands? My favorite book of the year so far."

I loved Bloodlands, for the incredible focus upon the vulnerability of a transnational space and the intentionality of sheer badness.

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