Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Short Review: The Hope

I read Herman Wouk's masterpieces, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, in high school for fun and loved them. They tell the story of the second World War in its magnificent sweep. Detailed, poignant, and stirring, the story and characters have remained with me ever since.

Which is a problem when I picked up his history of the state of Israel, The Hope. One might be forgiven for thinking he only has so many great fictional characters in him, but the main characters are shockingly similar. When the main character met up with a quirky girl much younger than him, I knew exactly what role she was going to play in the rest of the book ... and I'm right.

In fact, I've guessed every major character-plot development to the point that I start skimming to find one of the actual historical figures so I know something real is about to happen. It's very sad. Wouk tells his stories on multiple levels and having one of them essentially skipable does a number to the rest of the book.

If you're only going to read one, I'd go for the WWII account. If you know you are going to read both, I'd read Israel first in the hope that the longer story and greater detail in the WWII will keep you interested in the full story.

The strange part for me is the main character's name. It's just odd, in today's age, thinking that "Barak" is the Hebrew name a good Jewish boy chooses for himself to replace his Germanic/Christian name. It's hard to wrap my head around.

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