Undoubtedly enough people remember The Caine Mutiny, Marjorie Morningstar, and World War II to explain why Herman Wouk’s latest novel, War and Remembrance, rocketed to first place on the best-seller lists the very week it was published. (One hopes that eager readers have both the requisite perseverance to plow through its 1,039 pages and the strength to heft the nearly four-pound tome. It would be a great book to read in bed if you didn’t risk crushing your chest in the process.)
The novel continues the saga of the Henry family that Wouk began in The Winds of War. After chronicling the activities of the clan to the brink of war, Wouk now carries their story through the momentous events of the world conflagration: wherever there is action, there is also a Henry. Paterfamilias Pug Henry has a ship sunk at Pearl Harbor, and another at Guadalcanal. He negotiates lend-lease agreements with the Russians and turns up as a military aide to President Truman at the Potsdam Conference. There is a Henry fils at the Battle of Midway and another patrolling the Pacific in a submarine. A daughter-in-law finds herself trapped behind German lines, and Pug’s prospective bride manages to be on the scene during the fall of Singapore and the Battle of El Alamein.
At times, War and Remembrance is reminiscent of a beloved childhood book chronicling the improbable existence of a determined mouse who followed Ben-
MACLEAN’S BEST-SELLER LIST
1 War and Remembrance, Wouk (3)
2 Chesapeake, Af/cbener (1)
3 Fools Die, Puzo (4)
4 The Far Pavilions, Kaye (6)
5 SS-GB, Deighton (2)
6 Judith, Van Herk
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8 Gnomes, Huygen (9)
9 Prelude to Terror, Maclnnes( 10)
10 Evergreen, Plain (5)
1 Bronfman Dynasty, Newman (2)
2 If Life is a Bowl of Cherries—What Am I Doing in the Pits? Bombeck (4)
3 When Lovers Are Friends, Shaln( 1)
4 The Complete Book of Running, Fixx (3)
5 The Wild Frontier, Berton (5)
6 The Joy of Hockey, Nicol (7)
7 The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, Holden (8)
8 Death of a Lady’s Man, Cohen (10)
9 Robert Kennedy and His Times, Schlesinger (9)
10 The Brendan Voyage, Severin (6)
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Prepared with the aid of the Canadian Booksellers Association
jamin Franklin through the founding years of the United States. Through him, we are treated to a rodent’s-eye view of history, and this, on a far grander scale, is what we get in War and Remembrance.
Sometimes it all gets too confusing. Sandwiching explanations of grand strategy at the Battle of Midway between the personal drama of the Henry family in combat leaves one longing for the lucid prose of that great naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morrison. In contrast, Wouk is at his best when he writes about events which grip his emo-
tions: his evocation of the horrors of Nazi concentration camps is powerful and tremendously moving. And, perhaps, that is triumph enough for Wouk, whose self-proclaimed objective is to “lead us from the long, long time of war to the time for peace.” And the nightmare of Auschwitz is, of course, a far more realistic deterrent to inhumane slaughter than the glory of Guadalcanal.
But Captain Queeg of the Caine has long mellowed; the ball bearings he rolls in his hands have rusted.
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