Customer Reviews for

Birds Without Wings

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
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(16)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    Superb telling of a forgotten period of history, except by those who actively experienced it.

    This book tells the story of the Smyrna inhabitants and the population exchange which forged the new Turkish and Greek nations. It should be read by people who are deeply interested in the lessons of history. The characters live forever.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2007

    Never enjoyed a book more.

    The most ambitious in its effort to sort out a hundred years of the history of a region that has seen the tides of history for 6000 years. It will be hard for me ever to use the word, Epic, ever again with having this book in mind. Through the eyes a dozen simple yet exquisitely drawn characters we come to grasp the political ambitions of wannabe expansionist countries (leadership), the unabashed imperialism of others, their manipulation of religious movements whose differences are felt by leaders if never by their followers. The entire range of human emotion are wrenched from the characters as they are conscripted into wars most horrible and struggles of juxtaposed cultures. The culture clashes are depicted to be convenient to the propaganda of national leaders if not felt by the people themselves. Awesome to attempt such an ambitious task. Even more to accomplish it. The book¿s greatest lesson, not to blame generations of people for the egotistic stupidity of a few of its leaders. Even as the political leaders of today repeat the mistakes of history.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful yet sad

    This novel of epic proportions is set in a small village in the Ottoman empire, on the brink of civil war. For generations, the peoples of the village have intermingled and intermarried. Even their religions have somewhat blended, with Muslims praying to the Christian saints, and Christians upholding some of the Muslims beliefs. It's a peaceful and quaint town that time has forgotten.

    Soon great changes come to the region, in the way of war and destruction. The village and it's occupants realize that life, unfortunately, often changes even when you don't want it to.

    I thought this book was extremely well written, and that the story very moving and sad. It's one of those books that really make you ponder just how unfair and random life can be.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    Fascinating View of a Complex Period of History

    I read this book because we are soon traveling to Greece and Turkey. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though there is not the usual cast of main characters, I became completely and emotionally involved in the story of what happens in the village while being quite informed about this very complex period of history. At first, I wasn't sure I could keep the historical events straight as they are so complicated. But through masterful writing, Mr. De Bernieres draws you into the political machinations of the various groups involved and the tragic results for everyone who had to "wade in lakes of blood" A fine book indeed!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2011

    Awesome book

    The author has painted a beautiful picture of turkey!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2007

    Birds Without Wings

    Though it is a long read, more like an epic tome, you will come to love each of the characters like they were your own family. No one can fully write a character better than LdB, that's what makes his novels extraordinary and worth the investment in reading. LdB must have experienced some sort of loss in his life to write about it so well, so complete. He nails it. I do agree that the plot could be a bit more developed, but I think that adds to its charm. It doesn't come across as just a story 'not quite as fantastic', but more like a real history. I recommend you read Captain Corelli's Mandolin first and then read this one. Corelli is a bit more light-hearted, and he links the two books together 'very clever'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Destined to be one of the great books about the early twentieth century

    I simply implore you to read this epic masterpiece. Its story details in both a grand and small way how a small village must cope with the coming of the ¿modern¿ world and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. De Bernieres last book, CORNELLIS MANDOLIN was also a masterpiece (forget about the movie please), and I think this new volume is even more powerful Filled as it is with lush language, a multitiude of fully developed characters all as vivid as your best friend. This is a bit of history each of us must and should know about as it is a disaster caused by outsiders and an emerging new world order. Like Dr. Zhivargo, these villagers just wish to live their lives, worship, and work and enjoy the beauty that is this are of the Empire. They all get along and our tolerant of each other, Christian and Muslim, Greek and Armenian. Only a few dream dreams of old empires lost. The narrative drive is all Mr. De Bernieres but he does it though many voices as most chapters are told by characters in the story. One even told by a drowning man while he is drowning quite effective, inventive and marvelously readable. And yes, like real life, there are frustrations as character come and go and sometimes you never do learn their fates. I would venture to say this book has to be destined to be one of the great books about the early twentieth century. (It reminded me, in part, of a cross between Sebastian Faulks masterful BIRDSONG and Ursula Heigi¿s excellent STONES FROM THE RIVER.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2004

    An enchanting lesson about history and the world

    While BWW starts off rather slowly, it soon becomes one of those books that the one cannot put down. Though I'd agree with some critics that it is not plot driven, I think this is part of the book's strength, rather than a flaw. BWW weaves its way through the years preceding and following WWI via many smaller, engaging stories. Like in the writer's other books, there is a myriad of vibrant characters and through them reader is able to more genuinely connect with the tragedy that befalls this Ottoman community as its world vanishes. This is a really wonderful and informative book. I was very sad when it was over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    Ambitious, Sprawling, Almost Great

    Like Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Birds Without Wings is an almost great novel. In Corelli, de Bernieres kept his head until the last 80 pages. Here, his ambition gets the best of him early. There are so many threads, such a dizzying array of characters and storylines, that it's easy to get lost in the sprawl. This is not so much a novel as a platter of delicious vignettes -- but delicious they are. de Bernieres is a fabulous writer, and a master at interpreting history into human terms. In this case, it's the death of an empire and the birth of a nation that comes to life -- and all of the people in between.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2004

    A truly great novel.

    This is the best novel I've read this year by far. Both intimate and epic, sad, touching and funny. It's extremely rare that a novel makes me cry, but this one did. I also felt a sense of loss at the end. I liked Correlli's Mandolin, but this is several orders of magnitude better. The plot deals with a part of history that most westerners know little about, as well as the rise of one of history's true revolutionaries, Kemal Ataturk. The intimate part of the novel is how the actions of those in power affect the lives of those living in a small Turkish village. The writing in this novel is so fine, luminous even, that I would highly recommend it even to someone completely uninterested in Turkey or Greece. Please read this novel. I PROMISE you'll be glad you did.

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    Posted April 19, 2012

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    Posted October 29, 2010

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    Posted March 15, 2012

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    Posted July 4, 2011

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    Posted October 16, 2011

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    Posted March 25, 2011

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    Posted October 24, 2009

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