War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

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War and Remembrance Summary

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The action of War and Remembrance follows with great fidelity the major events of World War II. The novel begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ends with the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. All major battles on land and sea are covered. Japanese, American, and German war aims are fully explored and analyzed, including the development of the atom bomb and of the concentration camps. Domestic life in the United States during the war, the acute suffering of the Soviet people during the German invasion, and the collapse of the British Empire in the Far East all receive significant attention. As a result, the global dimensions of the war become the primary concern of the novel.

War and Remembrance is divided into seven parts that evenly distribute the emphasis that Wouk places on the private lives of his characters and on the public events in which they participate. Part 1, “Where Is Natalie?” shows the United States gearing up for war as Pearl Harbor is bombed and the British are defeated at Singapore. American submarines test their power in the Pacific while events in Europe are governed by the spread of a seemingly invincible Nazi empire. Byron Henry, with the help of others, tries to save his Jewish wife, Natalie, and her uncle, Aaron Jastrow, who are stranded in German-occupied Europe.

Part 2, “Midway,” concentrates on an exciting dramatization and analysis of the decisive American victory over the Japanese navy and air force that checked their power in the Pacific. Part 3, “Byron and Natalie,” juxtaposes the different fates of the husband and wife as the brash and utterly self-confident Byron locates his wife and son in hiding in Marseilles. Natalie, who has slowly begun to realize that her Jewishness is more important to the Nazis than her American citizenship, refuses to run the risk of escape by a railroad journey, as Byron proposes.

Part 4, “Pug...

(The entire section is 478 words.)