Alan Simon's Reviews > The Winds of War

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
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's review
Dec 27, 11

I own a copy, read count: 7

The saga of sagas. Here's what defines The Winds of War (and also War and Remembrance) for me:

1) Many lengthy novels with this many characters, each with their own subplots that mix into the larger story, are difficult to follow. Not The Winds of War. There's no difficulty context-switching among the stories of Pug, Rhoda, Byron, Jastrow, and the others.

2) Many novels that blend real-life characters from history into the story do so awkwardly, and describing one to someone else might sound like the beginning of a joke: "Guy walks into a tavern before the Revolutionary War and sits down at a table with Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin and orders a Samuel Adams..." In The Winds of War and the sequel, the interactions with world leaders and admirals are totally believable and flow naturally. These aren't plot devices or stunt casting, they're essential components of the story and are done very well.

3) Carrying off a novel of 1,000 pages - actually 2,000 pages if you consider the two books together as one mega-novel - is difficult. But you get to the end of The Winds of War and instead of feeling "whew - made it to the end, I finished the marathon!" you find yourself hungering for more...which fortunately there is in the form of War and Remembrance. There's little or no padding in The Winds of War, and I can't imagine an editor saying to Mr. Wouk "cut it down a couple hundred pages, it's bloated."

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