The Winds of War War and Remembrance Summary

Herman Wouk


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Victor “Pug” Henry, a U.S. naval officer, is sent to Berlin as a naval attaché. On the boat to Berlin, he and his wife meet British war correspondent Alistair “Talkie” Tudsbury and his daughter, Pamela. In Berlin, Pug plays a significant role in the interaction between the German and U.S. governments. He and Rhoda become socially involved with Nazi officials as well.

As the war intensifies, Rhoda returns to the United States. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt calls Pug to the White House and involves him in nonofficial diplomatic missions to the English, leading Pug to play an important role in the Lend-Lease program with the British government. Rhoda has an affair with Palmer Kirby, an industrialist. Pug goes to England, observes the British work, with radar, and goes on a bombing raid to Germany as an observer. Upon his return, Pamela is waiting for him and suggests that they begin an extramarital affair. Pug is tempted but his strict moral code prevents him from pursuing such an arrangement. Pug goes to Moscow during the German invasion of Russia. While there, he is once again in Pamela’s company, as she has accompanied her father, Talkie, to Moscow. Pug continues his work for Roosevelt, tours the battlefields, and becomes more involved with Pamela. He is then reassigned to the Pacific as a battleship captain, the assignment he has always wanted.

During this time, Warren Henry, Pug’s son, becomes a naval aviator; marries Janice Lacouture, a U.S. senator’s daughter; and is assigned to duty in the Pacific. Pug’s daughter, Madeline, goes to New York and takes a job in radio with Hugh Cleveland. While Pug is very pleased with Warren’s choice of a naval career, he is highly upset by Madeline’s choice of work. In contrast to Warren, son Byron has not opted for a naval career and has gone to Italy as a research assistant to Aaron Jastrow, a renowned Jewish scholar and author of A Jew’s Jesus. He falls in love with Jastrow’s niece, Natalie, and goes to Poland with her; she wants to visit her relatives there, especially Berel Jastrow and his family, and Leslie Slote, her fiancé, who is working at the American embassy in Warsaw.

Natalie and Byron are caught in the bombing of Warsaw. They are finally able to leave German-occupied Poland with the American embassy staff...

(The entire section is 953 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Beichman, Arnold. Herman Wouk: The Novelist as Social Historian. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2004. Treats both the historical and literary aspects of the novels. This book is carefully researched, and is based on interviews with Wouk and on his personal papers.

Bolton, Richard R. “The Winds of War and Wouk’s Wish for the World.” Midwest Quarterly 16 (1975): 389-408. A good discussion of Wouk’s views on peace, tolerance, and brotherhood.

Guttmann, Allen. The Jewish Writer in America: Assimilation and the Crisis of Identity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. This study examines Wouk’s importance and place in the tradition of the American Jewish novel.

Klingenstein, Susanne. “Sweet Natalie: Herman Wouk’s Messenger to the Gentiles.” In Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture, edited by Joyce Antler. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1998. Klingenstein examines the character of Natalie Jastrow. Describes how Wouk uses his character to personalize the Holocaust for non-Jewish readers.

Paulson, Barbara A., ed. The Historical Novel: A Celebration of the Achievements of Herman Wouk. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1999. This work helps place Wouk in the context of American literature.

Raphael, Marc. “From Marjorie to Tevya: The Image of Jews in American Popular Literature, Theater, and Comedy.” American Jewish History 74 (1984): 66-72. This journal article is especially valuable for those wishing to understand Wouk’s portrayal of Aaron Jastrow and Berel Jastrow.

Shapiro, Edward S. “The Jew as Patriot: Herman Wouk and American Jewish Identity.” In We Are Many: Reflections on American Jewish History and Identity. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2005. This collection includes a retrospective review of Wouk’s career. Shapiro argues persuasively that Wouk is concerned principally with defining American Jewish identity.