Herman Wouk's Foreword in WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, the second of his highly acclaimed novels portraying World War II, sheds light on his world view. Written on a Caribbean Island in the 1970s, the first novel describes the events leading up to Pearl Harbor and "is the main tale [he] had to tell."
He calls WAR AND REMEMBRANCE a historical romance. The background is World War II from the American perspective. He feels that the two novels lead to but one conclusion: "that war is an old habit of thought, an old frame of mind, an old political technique, that must now pass as human sacrifice and human slavery have passed...The beginning and the end of War lies in Remembrance."
WAR AND REMEMBRANCE picks up where WINDS OF WAR stopped: Pearl Harbor, December 1941, yet the book stands alone to be fully enjoyed without its prequel. After U.S. Navy Captain Victor "Pug" Henry watched the first ship he was about to command, the U.S.S. California, sink brutally broken beneath the waves, he has been given a new command, the U.S.S. Northampton. He's learned that his son Byron survived the sinking of his submarine, but that Byron's wife, Natalie and their son are missing in Europe. Natalie is the daughter of a famous Hebrew scholar, also missing, and the implications, as Nazi atrocities are only beginning to surface, are terrifying. Pug's marriage is shaky, the United States is in chaos as it struggles to recover from its isolationism and join, at sword's point, the allies in the conflagration to come.
Wouk's scrupulous attention to historic accuracy and finely honed storytelling skills offer what many feel is the finest wartime novel ever written about World War II. It spans the globe from the Middle East to Japan, from Hitler's death camps to the raging Battle of Midway.
The two books were blended into one story for a TV mini-series starring Robert Mitchum as Captain Victor "Pug" Henry. While well done, the books, as usual, far surpass the screen version and are well worth the time invested in the reading.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on February 5, 2002