I mentioned in a blog post a while back that I had started re-reading Herman Wouk’s two epic novels about World War II – Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.
Fast forward several months, and I am nearing the end of the second novel of the series. As a sometime writer (non-fiction) myself, I continue to be awed by the scope and quality of these two books. I can’t recommend them enough.
Herman Wouk is now 98 years old, and he is still writing! He last published a novel in 2012. That is one long career, and life!
Anyway, it is not my habit to be a ‘groupie’ or send fan mail, but I felt compelled to write Mr. Wouk, and thank him for his legacy of so many wonderful works, most especially Winds of War, and War and Remembrance. I had a difficult time trying to find an address to mail a letter to him, but found his page on Facebook, and submitted it there.
With all the accolades Mr. Wouk has surely received during his long and illustrious career, mine will just be another tiny voice in the chorus. Still, I wanted to thank him, while there is still time.
Dear Mr. Wouk,
I find myself compelled to write a ‘fan letter’ – something I have never done in the many years I have been an avid reader. I would have liked to have sent this as a personal missive, but I have not been able to find a snail mail address with which to reach you. In desperation, I searched Facebook, the 411 of our times, et voilà, there you are! I hope that you visit your Facebook from time to time, or that someone on your staff alerts you to activity on your page and passes along this message to you.
Back in the late 70’s, as a teenager, I first started reading your work – first Winds of War, then War & Remembrance, then Don’t Stop the Carnival, then Youngblood Hawke, then Inside Outside, then Marjorie Morningstar, then The Caine Mutiny. Or something like that order. I had a habit in those days, once I found an author whose work I liked, to read as much of their stuff as I could get my hands on. I remember all of these wonderful novels well, and I often reflect back on them with affection and appreciation for your skill as a writer.
Fast forward to 2013. My husband, who loves historical stuff, was plowing his way through the first two installments of Follett’s recent trilogy. So I read the first one, and thought hmmmph – I remember Wouk’s historical novels about World War II as being so much richer and more educational. Somehow he had never got his hands on these fine works. So we both bought and downloaded the digital versions of W of W, and W and R and we dove in.
I happened to be visiting Berlin when I started Winds of War – which was almost ironic, but somehow fitting. As the pages melted away, I became more and more awed by your skill in weaving this complex history with believable, complex characters. The quality of your writing is as superb as I remembered it from my earlier reads of your work – every sentence is a joy to read. There are very few novels, and none others I have read of such magnitude, about which I would make this statement.
I am now about 200 pages from the end of War & Remembrance. I have found myself slowing my reading, savoring this magnificent novel, wishing it would never end.
Thank you for committing thirteen years of your life to the researching and writing of these novels. That is a feat unto itself, and how you managed to weave the whole story, with so many characters and situations, well, it is truly astounding I think, especially given that you wrote these oeuvres in the pre-word processing days when moving blocks of text, editing, etc, was so much more difficult.
I think, in an ideal world, that these two novels should be required reading for all high school students – they could cover both twentieth century literature and history in the reading of them.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you, Mr. Wouk, for your fantastic work, and for the legacy of these two novels in particular. I do not believe that another author has been capable of telling this history with such humanity, scope, and from so many perspectives.