Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk

Infobox Writer
name = Herman Wouk

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caption = Herman Wouk in Jerusalem, 1955
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birthdate = May 27, 1915 (age 93)
birthplace = New York, NY
deathdate =
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occupation = American author
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subject =
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debut_works = Aurora Dawn
spouse = Betty Sarah Brown
partner =
children =
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Herman Wouk (pron-en|ˈwoʊk "woke"; born May 27, 1915) is a bestselling American author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including "The Caine Mutiny", "The Winds of War", and "War and Remembrance".


Herman Wouk was born in New York City into a Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia. After a childhood and adolescence in the Bronx and a high school diploma from Townsend Harris High School, he earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1934, where he studied under philosopher Irwin Edman. Soon thereafter, he became a radio scriptwriter, working in David Freedman's "Joke Factory" and later with Fred Allen for five years then in 1941, for the United States government, writing radio spots to sell war bonds. His first novel, "The Man in the Trenchcoat", was published in 1941. He lived a fairly secular lifestyle in his early 20s before deciding to return to a more traditional Jewish way of life, modeled after his grandfather, in his mid-20s. From that day to the present, Wouk has commenced each day of his life with a reading of Scripture in Hebrew.

Wouk joined the United States Navy and served in the Pacific Theater, an experience he later characterized as educational; "I learned about machinery, I learned how men behaved under pressure, and I learned about Americans." Wouk served as an officer aboard two destroyer minesweepers (DMS), the USS "Zane" and USS "Southard", becoming executive officer of the latter. He started writing his second novel, "Aurora Dawn", during off-duty hours aboard ship. Wouk sent a copy of the opening chapters to Irwin Edman who quoted a few pages verbatim to a New York editor. The result was a publisher's contract sent to Wouk's ship, then off the coast of Okinawa. The novel was published in 1947 and became a Book of the Month Club main selection. His third novel, "", proved to be a commercial disappointment at the time of its initial publication in 1948; perhaps, as Wouk once claimed, it was swept away by the excitement over Norman Mailer's bestselling World War II novel "The Naked and the Dead".

While writing his next novel, Wouk read each chapter as it was completed to his wife, who remarked at one point that if they didn't like this one, he'd better take up another line of work (a line he would give to the character of the editor Jeannie Fry in his 1962 novel "Youngblood Hawke"). The novel, "The Caine Mutiny" (1951), went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. A huge best-seller, drawing from his wartime experiences aboard minesweepers during World War II, "The Caine Mutiny" was adapted by the author into a Broadway play called "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial", and was later made into a film, with Humphrey Bogart portraying Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg, captain of the fictional DMS "Caine". Some Navy personnel complained at the time that Wouk had taken every twitch of every commanding officer in the Navy and put them all into one character, but Captain Queeg has endured as one of the great characters in American fiction.

He married Betty Sarah Brown in 1945, with whom he had three sons, becoming a fulltime writer in 1946 to support his growing family. His first-born son, Abraham Isaac Wouk, died in a tragic accident as a child; Wouk later dedicated "War and Remembrance" (1978) to him with the Biblical words, "He will destroy death forever."

In 1998, Wouk received the Guardian of Zion Award. He and his wife currently live in Palm Springs, CA.


His novels after "The Caine Mutiny" include "Marjorie Morningstar" (1955), "Youngblood Hawke" (1962), and "Don't Stop the Carnival" (1965). Wouk's first work of non-fiction was 1959's "", a defense/explanation of Orthodox Judaism.

In the 1970s, Wouk published his two most ambitious novels, "The Winds of War" (1971) and "War and Remembrance" (1978). He described the latter, which included a devastating depiction of the Holocaust, as "the main tale I have to tell." Both were made into hugely popular TV miniseries. Although they were made several years apart, both were directed by Dan Curtis and both starred Robert Mitchum as Captain Victor "Pug" Henry, the main character.

The novels are ingeniously constructed historical fiction, so absorbing that Henry Kissinger called them at one point "the war itself." Each has three layers: the story told from the viewpoint of Captain Henry; a more or less straightforward historical account of the events of the war; and, most ingeniously, an analysis by a member of Hitler's military staff, the insightful General Armin von Roon, who would have been a major figure in world history, had only he existed. There are many classic accounts in the novels, but perhaps most interesting are the bombing raid on Germany by British airmen before Pearl Harbor (Captain Henry joins them for a look see), in the first novel, and the Battle of Midway, in the second. The latter contains what one reviewer called a "remarkable roster call of American airmen sacrificed during the battle."

Wouk hired highly qualified young historians to assist him with the research for his later historical novels, and their details are highly accurate. They include putting together the "roster call" of Midway. Experts have described "The Caine Mutiny" as one of the best depictions of daily life aboard a US ship during the Second World War.

Wouk on Zionism
*"Zionism is a single long action of lifesaving, of snatching great masses of people out of the path of sure extinction." ("This is My God," first edition (1959), page 264.)

His Books

It is rumored that several of Herman Wouk's books were based upon his extended family, the Alperts, especially Harry Alpert, and Anitra Alpert. Harry Alpert can be seen as a recurring character; he is the man who studies Emile Durkhiem. It is rumored that Anitra Alpert was Marjorie Morningstar herself.Fact|date=July 2008

Library of Congress

Mr. Wouk has kept a personal diary since the 1930s. On September 10th, 2008, Mr. Wouk will formally present the Library of Congress with his journals, now numbering over 90 volumes, in a ceremony which will honor him with the first Library of Congress Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction.

Mr. Wouk often refers to his journals to check dates and facts in his writing, and was hesitant to let the originals out of his personal possession. A solution was arrived at; a scanning service bureau, [http://www.twinimaging.com Twin Imaging Technology] , was selected to scan the entire set of volumes into high resolution .TIFF images and multi-page PDF files.1

elected works

* "The Man in the Trench Coat" (1941)
* "Aurora Dawn" (1947)
* "The Lomokome Papers" (1947) (see [http://www99.epinions.com/content_247250128516] )
* "" (1948)
* "The Traitor" (1949 play)
* "The Caine Mutiny" (1951)
* "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" (1953 play)
* "Marjorie Morningstar" (1955)
* "Slattery's Hurricane" (1956)
* "Nature's Way" (1957 play)
* "" (1959, revised ed. 1973) (non-fiction)
* "Youngblood Hawke" (1961)
* "Don't Stop the Carnival" (1965)
* "The Lomokome Papers" (1968)
* "The Winds of War" (1971)
* "War and Remembrance" (1978)
* "Inside, Outside" (1985)
* "The Hope" (1993)
* "The Glory" (1994)
* "" (2000)
* "A Hole in Texas" (2004)


* "The Historical Novel: A Celebration of the Achievements of Herman Wouk", ed. by Barbara A. Paulson (1999)
*Arnold Beichman, "Herman Wouk: The Novelist as Social Historian" (1984)
*Laurence W. Mazzeno, "Herman Wouk" (1994)
* http://c250.columbia.edu/c250_celebrates/remarkable_columbians/herman_wouk.html
* 1 http://www.twinimaging.com/latestnews.html

See also

* List of bestselling novels in the United States
* Friends of Hermann Merkin

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  • Herman Wouk — in Jerusalem, 1955 Herman Wouk (* 27. Mai 1915 in New York City) ist ein US amerikanischer Bestseller Autor und Träger des Pulitzer Preises. Er wurde auch durch die mit herausragenden Schauspielern besetzten Verfilmungen seiner Werke bekannt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Herman Wouk — à Jérusalem, en 1955 Activités Écrivain, Scénariste Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Herman Wouk — noun United States writer (born in 1915) • Syn: ↑Wouk • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wouk — Herman Wouk in Jerusalem, 1955 Herman Wouk (* 27. Mai 1915 in New York City) ist ein US amerikanischer Bestseller Autor und Träger des Pulitzer Preises. Er wurde auch durch die mit herausragenden Schauspielern besetzten Verfilmungen seiner Werke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • WOUK, HERMAN — (1915– ), U.S. novelist and playwright. The son of Russian immigrants, Wouk was born in New York City. For six years he worked as a radio writer and, when the United States entered World War II, joined the Navy as a line officer, serving in the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Herman — is a Dutch and English given name. Its original meaning was army man ( Arman ) and derives from the Germanic elements heri meaning army combined with man meaning man (compare archaic Dutch heer , meaning army and man ). It is cognate with German… …   Wikipedia

  • Herman — puede referirse a: Contenido 1 Nombre 1.1 Santos 1.2 Otros personajes con ese nombre 2 Apellido …   Wikipedia Español

  • Wouk — noun United States writer (born in 1915) • Syn: ↑Herman Wouk • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wouk,Herman — Wouk (wōk), Herman. Born 1915. American writer whose novels include The Caine Mutiny (1951), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, and The Winds of War (1971). * * * …   Universalium

  • Wouk —   [waʊk], Herman, amerikanischer Schriftsteller, * New York 27. 5. 1915; nach Studienabschluss für Rundfunk und Film tätig, im Zweiten Weltkrieg bei der Marine. Wouk wurde v. a. durch populäre Kriegsromane bekannt, die das Geschehen im Pazifik… …   Universal-Lexikon

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