I am not a good writer , but a good reader. I have been reading books from young and love to read anything & everything non technical. Many a vacation has been spent in reading hotel directories to lull myself to sleep…Yes, its that bad..;-)
I have decided to reserve this space for book reviews.
THE WINDS OF WAR by Herman Wouk
If you are a history buff and want to know about WWII, this is the book for you. There are numerous books written with WWII as the background and especially about the holocaust, but this book is written with a different perspective. The war is seen from an American perspective, with notes from Hitler’s book “Mein Kamf” and a certain General Von Roon of the German army.
We look at the war from the eyes of Victor Henry, called Pug, who is a naval officer with three children. Pug is defined as an austere and consevative man.He gains the confidence of Roosevelt and is dispatched as a naval attache’ to Germany. We follow him from Germany to Britain and finally to Soviet Union during the German invasion of Russia.He gets to meet Hitler,giving us the inside dope of Germans’ thinking during the war.We get Roosevelt’s opinion about the war too and the book portrays Roosevelt as a very intelligent human.The start of the war , with the invasion of Poland by Germany is beautifully depicted while we see it through the eyes of Byron, Pug’ son and his girlfriend Natalie, who is a jew. This invasion changes Byron’s life and the story is well-told as it covers the marriages of Pug’s sons( Warren, a pilot and Byron, a submariner) and his daughter. It talks about how war affects people’s emotions, forcing his wife Rhoda to have an affair while Pug falls in love with a friend’s daughter.
Putting the family’s story aside, the book talks about Hitler and his treatment of the jews, which is well known. Apparently, he really believed in ruling the world. It reminded me of the photo of Hitler that we had in our house,where he has the whole earth chained and standing on top of it. Though Britain and the commonwealth nations declared war against Germany, when compared to the German troops, they lacked in arms & men , though they had the will to fight. Churchill comes out as a strong man who understands his country’s weakness and looks for help from Roosevelt. America , though neutral was worried more about the Japs and didn’t really care much about what happened in Europe. Even when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union going against his peace pact, one facist nation against another, Roosevelt didn’t help openly for fear of congress and the American people, who were dead against the war.Declaring as a neutral country,US carried on with what was called the Lend-Lease policy and took some measures to help China against the Japs and the British against Germany. Unfortunatley , the book ends with the attack on Hawaii by the Japs in 1941, which forced Roosevelt to enter the war. The second half of the war is covered in the book “war and Remeberance”. The atom bomb is a mere conception and theory in this book.
1.Did you know Franklin Roosevelt was a cripple and had to use a wheelchair.
2. The book was published in 1971 .
3. ABC ran a mini-series adapting this book’s storyline.
I have definitely not done due justice to the book as it covers a lot more and weaves an intricate web around the characters with the WWII as the background.
“War and Remembrance” by Herman Wouk
This is the sequel to “The Winds of War”, the second part of WWII after US enters the war. The novel can be divided into three categories
1. The personal life of Pug’s family
2. The WWII
3. The holocaust
We see how little the war actually affects the shielded Americans. Though America is seriously fighting the Japs, for the citizens , it is a distant echo heard only in the news channel, except for Pearl Harbor. In my opinion, things have not changed much with respect to wars even today. America is still shielded well by its oceans.
Victor (Pug) Henry takes part in various battles while separated from his wife. Pug’s older son Warren, a naval aviator, and Pug’s younger son Byron, a submarine officer, also participate in combat. We see the effect of the war in a military family and also the non-effect when it comes to the daughter Madeline, how the loss of son Warren brings the Henrys together, how Byron being married to a Jew suffers from seperation, how Natalie(Byron’s wife) ,being trapped in Axis territory,suffers just because she is a Jew despite being an American citizen.
The war is covered by following Pug’s life and also from General Von Roon’s diary. We see an American perspective, especially when it comes to the battle of Midway, a huge turning point for the U.S and the German perspective from the writings of the fictional Brigadier General Von Roon. The historical occurrences of Midway, Yalta and the Allied invasions at Philippines are seen and heard from the eyes of the naval officer, Pug, who commands a battle ship initially and is sent to Russia to observe the Lend-Lease program, there by letting us get a view of the war atrocities in Stalingrad. The novel goes into vivid details about the battle of Midway with due credit to Admiral Spruance for the win, Battle of Leyte Gulf,which was commanded by Admiral Halsey. The making of the Atom Bomb, a top secret, steered by Oppenheimer is covered in brief detail.
I spent numerous sleepless nights just reading about the holocaust. It does affect you deeply, to see so many innocent lives being taken on the whim of a mad man. Hitler truly believed that the Jews would rule the world and when no country agree to take them in, decides that the only solution is to kill them. There are written evidences about this madness. We see the tortures through the eyes of Berel Jastrow,who is captured with the Red Army in 1941 and sent to Auschwitz as a prisoner of war. We also see the supposedly Paradise camp ,Theresienstadt, where Natalie and her uncle Aaron Jastrow are tricked into going, how the whole camp works for 6 months to make it look artificially nice,for a visit from the neutral Red Cross. Natalie is sent to Auschwitz and Aaron is sent to the gas chamber on reaching there. The book covers in vivid details all the various methods of torturing the Nazis come up with and the various ways of getting rid of the corpses. No, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.Hitler claims in Mein Kampf that his transition from opposing antisemitism on religious grounds to supporting it on racial grounds came from having seen an Orthodox Jew. I cannot understand how the Nazis, who worship a murdered Jew , can themselves murder Jews. Isn’t that ironic?
1. ABC ran a mini series of this novel too.
2. War and Remembrance received 15 Emmy Award nominations and won for best miniseries, special effects and single-camera production editing. The miniseries was nominated for Emmy Awards for best actor (John Gielgud), actress (Jane Seymour) and supporting actress (Polly Bergen). John Gielgud and Barry Bostwick both won Golden Globe awards.
The book was 1000 pages and I tried to fit it in 800 words…..and so no justice here. But, just wanted to note lest I forget the content.
4. Piccadilly Jim – PGW