Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Feeling the Winds

I’ve written before about two TV miniseries based on novels by Herman Wouk entitled The Winds of War  (1983) and War and Remembrance (1988). These star Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Ali MacGraw, Jane Seymour, and Victoria Tennant. 

They follow the intertwined lives of a US Navy family, the Henrys, a British family, the Tudsburys, and a multinational Jewish family, the Jastrows, plus their friends, associates and lovers, as they experience the war. We own both series on DVDs.

The first (7 episodes) deals with the US and Europe as the latter goes to war in 1939 while the US remains neutral and ends with the attack on Pearl Harbor and US entry into World War II.  The second (12 episodes) follows the characters of the first through the US experience following Pearl Harbor until the war ends in 1945. 

Along the way we meet Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini, plus a bevy of well-known generals and admirals. We also catch a whiff of Hollywood’s infatuation with Communism.

The DrsC have a family tradition of rewatching the entire epic on a series of 19 evenings in the midst of darkest winter. We began a bit early this year as the writers’ strike means there is little new content on TV. We finished episode 5 last night. 

In that episode Churchill is trying to coax Roosevelt into supporting Britain’s war effort. Both are struggling with a suitable “fig leaf” to cover a supposed neutral’s helping a combatant’s conduct of the war. 

We were both struck with how much our current aid to Ukraine echoes our then-relationship with Britain. We are helping them, experiencing political turmoil at home over the cost, while they do the fighting we prefer to stay out of. 

As Mark Twain observed, history doesn’t repeat exactly, but it often rhymes, which is to say it reminds us of things in our past. Of course, Biden is no Roosevelt, and Zelenskyy is no Churchill. Those were giants, these are golems.