Literature / The Winds of War/War and Remembrance
The beginning of the end of War lies in Remembrance.
This is a historical epic
of World War II
set in two volumes, The Winds of War
and War and Remembrance
, both by Herman Wouk. It follows the Henry family and their friends around the world during the war. In effect, it is a "sight-seeing" tour, in which we are shown the war from as many perspectives as the author can manage. It has been called a World War II version of War and Peace
; and both volumes were later made into TV miniseries.
- Absent-Minded Professor: Aaron Jastrow. While he could be pardoned for not believing rumors of the Holocaust, he could at least have figured out that being in Europe during a major war might not be be prudent.
- Ace Pilot: Warren Henry is a pilot though not technically an ace.
- And the Adventure Continues: Of a slightly morbid variety. With the war over and the family miraculously reunited, Ali is free to return to US and lead a safe and privileged life with Byron and their son. However, she has learned the lesson that Jews will never be safe relying on protection of others, so she heads to Palestine, instead, to join the fight for new Jewish state.
- Ambadassador: Victor, in the first volume. In much of the second too.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Victor acts as this much of the time.
- Badass Family: The Henrys.
- Badass Grandpa: Victor. Literally, as he is in fact, a grandpa through much of the series.
- Big Bad: Adolf Hitler, obviously.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Byron Henry is obviously brilliant, but introduced as a directionless failed-art student.
- The Captain: Victor Henry.
- The Chessmaster: Roosevelt, according to von Roon, who credits him with a fiendish plan against Germany. Von Roon of course, thinks that when Germans do such things it is brilliant statesmanship.
- Cowardly Lion: Slote views himself as a coward, but his drive not to be one inspires him to commit some brave acts, and he ends up dying in battle.
- Cultured Warrior: Byron Henry is studying fine arts before the war. Possibly a subversion as he is a rather lazy and inefficient student.
- Doorstopper: The original The Winds of War novel had to be split into two volumes in order to give more detail on the attack on Pearl Harbor, which took Wouk 1000 pages.
- The Dead Have Names: Wouk breaks off his account of the Battle of Midway to list all the members of the three American torpedo-bomber squadrons that were wiped out.
So long as men choose to decide the turns of history with the slaughter of youths — and even in a better day, when this form of human sacrifice has been abolished like the ancient, superstitious, but no more horrible form — the memory of these three American torpedo plane squadrons should not die. The old sagas would halt the tale to list the names and birthplaces of men who fought so well. Let this romance follow the tradition.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him:
- Slote's death only gets a brief mention, after he goes through a lot of Character Development. And its stated that it was completely pointless from a military standpoint.
- Warren is a great hero throughout the battle of Midway, only to be ignominiously killed in a final mopping up action.
- Berel Jastrow survived many dangerous events and even escaped from Auschwitz. His death is mentioned in passing at the very end of the book.
- Earth Is a Battlefield
- Easily Forgiven: Rhoda, Victor's wife is rather charitably treated by poor Victor when she commits adultery. Especially as Victor managed to shrug off similar temptation.
- Maybe that was the reason. He was thinking, "There but for the grace of God".
- He finally does end up divorcing her. So maybe it was first played straight and then subverted.
- But of course, he quickly turned around to marry his own "temptation."
- Empire with a Dark Secret: The series contains graphic scenes of the Holocaust.
- The Epic
- Father Neptune: Victor Henry, the father and a naval officer.
- Final Battle: Leyte Gulf.
- Foregone Conclusion: Yes, the Allies won World War II. No, seriously.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Madeline Henry.
- Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: See Like You Would Really Do It below.
- Historical-Domain Character: As the novels are based on real history, many real-life personalities had to appear as a requirement.
- Historical In-Joke: Rhoda is thrilled to run into Errol Flynn, Byron rather less so. Flynn was suspected of being a Nazi spy during the war, though it was later proven to be completely false.
- Humble Hero: Victor is perfectly willing to let others get the glory as long as the war is won.
- Insufferable Genius: Von Roon, a German staff officer whom Victor translates years after the war. He is exasperatingly full of Moral Myopia (and even Moral Myopia about other people's Moral Myopia), contemptuous of his enemies, and determined to show in a very calm and professional manner how it was all everyone else's fault. After reading him, you dislike him not just as a Nazi, but as a person. That, of course, was the author's intention.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Victor and Warren both went to the US Naval Academy. Leslie Slote went to Yale and then to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Natalie graduated from Radcliffe, Harvard's sister college. Even Byron managed to graduate from Columbia with a Naval Reserve commission.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Slote, Natalie's former boyfriend helps her to get married to Byron, and even gives them his luxurious hotel room to spend their wedding night in, even though he still loves Natalie.
- I Will Find You: Byron searches for Natalie in Europe.
- I Am Spartacus: Leslie Slote, a normally timid diplomatic flunky is travelling with some neutral diplomats through German territory. When an SS officer demands to separate Jews from the group, Slote, with a gloriously imperious display appeals to international good manners, and then announces that either all of the group would be treated as Jews, or none.
- La Résistance: Natalie becomes a member of this.
- Large Ham: Steven Berkoff as Hitler. Of course, Truth in Television here. Here's a sample of his lines:
Hitler: Betrayed, double-crossed, deceived, surrounded by LIARS!!
Hitler: I can no longer go on! I shall... die... in... Berlin! The war is LOST! Lost! Lost! Lost! Stupid, incompetent idioooooooooooots!
- Like You Would Really Do It: In-Universe, few people are capable of believing just what the Nazis are doing in the camps.
- Little Hero, Big War
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Including... Victor Henry, his wife Rhoda, his sons Warren and Byron, and his daughter Madeline. Also including a number of other important characters from an another family, as well as many a Historical-Domain Character of the time.
- Lovable Coward: Slote, though he eventually gets over his cowardice.
- Malignant Plot Tumor: Byron's search for Louis takes over the whole second half of the final episode, to the point that V-J Day, ie the end of the war, is only indicated by a briefly glimpsed newspaper headline.
- Married to the Job: Victor Henry.
- Matzo Fever: Natalie Jastrow, the love interest (and wife) of Byron Henry.
- May–December Romance: Between Victor and Pamela Tudsbury.
- Meaningful Name: The head of a naval family named Victor?
- The superstitious might wonder about giving a naval officer that name. It's kind of Tempting Fate.
- Though of course, not only did he end up as the victor he got to rub it in by writing a translation of the vanquished point of view and adding in his snarky commentaries.
- Byron, the Cultured Warrior(sort of) of the Henry family is named after a famous poet.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Natalie's uncle is a famous writer, and there are intellectual references throughout the work.
- Mr. Exposition: General Von Roon's main purpose is to provide the reader with quick overall summaries of the major battles of the war, so we'll know what's going on in the story.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits! : And Byron actually smashes the false teeth of one of Madeline's boyfriends.
- Noble Bigot: Several of the heroic characters are noble bigots toward Germans and Japanese. Y'think?
- A subversion is Victor when he hears about Byron marrying a Jew. He is not really shocked, or bigoted as such; he just thinks the idea is odd and needs getting used to.
- No Indoor Voice: Hitler in War and Remembrance, whenever he gets mad.
- Obligatory War-Crime Scene: Subverted. On a submarine patrol Byron's captain sets up a shot on a ship with a red cross insignia. Byron asks permission to stand aside from this and take notes to report it to authority. Then the captain fires and the ship explodes massively, being an ammunition ship disguised as a hospital ship. It is not made clear how Byron's captain guessed or if he was just incredibly lucky.
- The scenes at Auschwitz in Chapter Two. If you need further elaboration a trainload of Jews is carted into the camp while the weakest of the Jews already there are pressed into guard duty. The men, women and children believe they are there for work, when they are sent to sanitation, stripped bare, forced into the gas chambers and executed, before being dumped in carts to be covered in lime and buried. Himmler is shown this to demonstrate disposal being a problem, and he authorizes medical experiments on the women as well as every effort to build crematoriums to be built by Jewish slaves before they are liquidated.
- Overt Operative: Victor spends the first part as a Naval Attache(polite term for an embassy's official spy)in Berlin. Justified in that the right to keep an "in-house" spy as long as he is not to obnoxious about it is common diplomatic custom. However he does little more exciting then going to VIP entertainments and taking notes. In so doing, he did manage to predict the German-Russian alliance.
- The Patriarch: Victor Henry.
- Passing the Torch: A minor theme during the signing of the Atlantic charter is the handing over from Britain to the US of the role of defender of democracy.
- Patriotic Fervor: Pretty much shown by everyone and true to period.
- Proud Warrior Race: Von Roon thinks only Germans are true warriors. When Germans lose it was "unfair".
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Hitler after learning that the battle of Stalingrad is lost.
Hitler: NONSENSE! WHAT! IS! THIS! NONSENSE?!
- Real Men Love Jesus: Victor is a good churchgoer. More in a "Respectable '40's American" sense then in a "fanatic" sense, but a very devoted Christian nonetheless.
- Say Your Prayers: Aaron Jastrow starts telling the Shema Yisrael when he's killed in the gas chamber in Auschwitz. (It is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words).
- Sympathetic Adulterer: subverted with Natalie. She offer's herself to a Nazi guard to protect her baby. The guard however taunts her by saying he could have her any time he wanted but didn't feel like it at the momment.
- Pamela is a sympathetic attempted adulterer. Rhoda is an UNsympathetic adulterer — she has a rather unlikable personality to begin with.
- The Stoic: Victor. Kind of verges into Stoic Woobie at times.
- These Hands Have Killed: Byron, in order to have an excuse to visit his wife and son in Europe gets a job inspecting captured German submarines. A Zionist agent who had protected his family is shocked at the idea of him working with former German submariners. Byron says that they were just professional naval officers. Whereupon the agent says "They're murderers". And Byron said, "So am I."
- Those Wacky Nazis: This being a World War II novel, Hitler and his posse are mandatory inclusions.
- Took a Level in Badass: Byron evolves from a rather lazy character into a submarine ace.
- Leslie Slote originally appears as a diplomat, who's cowardly and aware of it. After he finds evidence about the Holocaust, and can't do anything to help the Jews by diplomatic means, he eventually resigns and becomes a member of a paratrooper squad.
- True Companions
- The Unfair Sex: Rhoda doesn't take it well when she learns that Pamela has been trying to snare her husband. It apparently slips her mind that unlike Victor, she actually has been cheating.
- Unreliable Narrator: Von Roon. Fairly obvious given his former employers.
- However, in keeping with Roon's status as Mr. Exposition, we're told that his summaries of the war's major events are mostly accurate, and where he gets things wrong, an editor's note is provided to tell us.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the TV miniseries adaptation of War and Rememberance, Hitler has an exceptionally epic one when he's informed that Steiner could not muster reinforcements to come to Berlin's aid.
- War Is Hell / War Is Glorious: Yes, the book manages both. Not as uncommon as it sounds.
- War Time Soap: The books are rather soapy in many ways.
- We Have Become Complacent
- Worthy Opponent: While America is still neutral Victor comments to a German naval officer that he seemed so familiar a specimen of a naval officer that Victor might have met him in the last war. The German officer wryly replies "Maybe we did."
- Ye Goode Olde Days: Nostalgia for World War II? Come on. Yet we all know it exists and the book runs on it. To the point of having the cover decorated by a cluster of forties style family photos.
- However, despite that it is never hidden that these were a nasty time. After all the author is a Jew and so are several of the characters, and Jews did not have it so well then.