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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk : The "Caine" Mutiny

Herman Wouk : The “Caine” Mutiny

As is often the case, I don’t remember exactly which book of Herman Wouk’s I first read but I’m thinking it was The Caine Mutiny, sometime in the late ’60s. I know I did not sit down and immediately devour everything he had written but I did recognize I had a new author that would keep me entertained. From his wiki:

Herman Wouk is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author whose novels include The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance.

In some respects The Caine Mutiny is probably Wouk’s best known work, as a Pulitzer winner, stage play, and movie (with Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Jose Ferrer, and Fred MacMurray.) However, Wouk had a two book series, The Henry Family that may be even better known.

The first Henry Family book is The Winds of War, published in 1971 then followed seven years later by War and Remembrance. Winds of War starts a few months before the Germans invade Poland and ends just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. War and Remembrance then picks things up through the rest of WWII. The two books between them offer sweeping historical views and how the war interacts with one family. Winds of War became a seven episode TV extravaganza in 1983 followed in ’88 – ’89 with a twelve episode War and Remembrance. Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen played the same characters through both series although other major characters were portrayed by different actors between the two. I remember reading both of thee books as soon as they had hit paperback, enjoying the grand spectacle and the intimate stories in both

I know I have read a couple of other works by Wouk that went on to be movies, Marjorie Morningstar with Natalie Wood as the title character in the movie and Youngblood Hawke with James Franciscus as the title character. I will admit my basic provincialism as Youngblood Hawke is supposedly a Kentucky truck driver who writes a Great American Novel, becomes the toast of New York before having the city beat him back down.

Slattery’s Hurricane began as a short story, became a movie then a book. From the wiki:

Slattery’s Hurricane is a 1949 drama film directed by André De Toth and based on a story submitted by Herman Wouk to Twentieth Century Fox. The film tells the story of an anti-hero ex-navy pilot who discovers that he works for a dope-smuggling ring, but ultimately attempts to redeem himself during a violent hurricane. It features Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell and Veronica Lake. Wouk, who also coauthored the screenplay and published a novel of the film in 1956.

Wouk also wrote some non-fiction including This Is My God, a story of Judaism.

Photo from Alexis Orloff licensed under Creative Commons

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Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL