I first read Herman Wouk’s THE WINDS OF WAR about 15 years ago, and I loved it.

I loved it so much that the minute I finished its 900 pages I picked up its sequel, WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, and polished off its 900 pages too.

But 15 years ago I was not yet hooked on World War II history or its literature; I had only been to Europe for work, which is to say I had not seen much, if anything, of Italy or France or Germany or England or Poland; I had not yet signed up for a class called simply “The Holocaust”; I was about to sign up for my first college French class, where I would stay for 4 years; 15 years ago I had not yet been to Auschwitz, nor had I read any of the 34 books on my shelf about Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazi machine, or accounts by Jewish survivors.  As I sit here this first of May 2015, re-reading one of my favorite sprawling sagas, I wonder, “How could I have loved this historical novel so much when I knew so little about what’s in it?”

Sitting here on the porch with my same old broken-in 15 year old copy of THE WINDS OF WAR, I realize it was this book — this very book — that set me on my path.  So often I hear someone say the words, “I don’t read,” and yet as I sit here I wonder:  what would I have studied, where would I have traveled, whom might I have not met, what books would I have bought instead, what would I have learned, who would I even be if I had not started right here?


Tell me about a book that set you on your path.