Rated 3 Stars
I read this book thirty years ago and it's a perfect example of how one's reading tastes change over the years. At that time I would have rated it it at least four stars and perhaps even a five. But as I have gotten older, my perceptions have changed and I'm afraid the most I can honestly give this book is a shaky three stars.
Wouk used the character of a U.S. Navy captain and his family to tell his version of the events leading up to the second world war. While I don't expect writers of historical fiction to slavishly repeat generally accepted versions of historical events, there are limits. I do expect writers of fiction to provide me with a good story. Wouk bounced his poor characters from one crisis to another and embroiled him to so many of the plots and plans of the main players in WW2 that I found it impossible to keep my disbelief suspended.
I finally made this book work for me by listening to it in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. As soon as I stopped expecting a novel with a coherent story line I was able to listen to each chapter as an essay based on the author's perceptions of what happened at the time. From then on it went much smoother for me. This made it possible for me to stop and start listening to the story without having to pick up on a story line. It was a wonderful help with my insomnia because I could focus on whatever was happening in the book at the time instead of hearing all the things that go bump in the night.
There is a sequel to this book titled War and Remembrance and I'm not sure I will bother with it. Since Winds of War worked so well for middle of the night listening I just might. I need to think about it.
A masterpiece of historical fiction, this is the Great Novel of America's "Greatest Generation".
Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, 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 family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.