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Caine Mutiny author Herman Wouk dies

by Mark Moland
Posted 5/17/19, 12:38 pm

Herman Wouk, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Caine Mutiny, died Friday at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., his literary agent said. He was 103. Wouk, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, aspired to be a satirist of American life, but his service as a naval officer in World War II, where he recorded his daily experiences, inspired his best-loved works.

Wouk called upon his experience in the Pacific theater to write about a young naval lieutenant serving under a maniacal captain. He won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1951 for The Caine Mutiny, an international bestseller eventually translated into 28 languages. It inspired a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and a stage play with Charlton Heston. U.S. Navy and Coast Guard senior leadership list the book as recommended reading for all officers.

Starting in 1962, Wouk dedicated 13 years to writing an epic retelling of World War II in Winds of War and its sequel, War and Remembrance. Through extensive research, he recorded the wartime experiences of an American family and included a graphic portrayal of the Holocaust. Both books became Emmy-winning television miniseries.

Wouk wrote 18 books in a variety of genres: war fiction, satire, epic history, science fiction, and religious studies. He was proud of his Jewish heritage and ardently defended his religion’s customs and ceremonies. “My love of literature has been my life work,” Wouk said of his long writing career. “Such a destiny has been a blessing far above my youthful imaginings.”

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Mark Moland

Mark is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course.

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