Wouk, Herman 1915–
Wouk, Herman 1915–
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "woke"; born May 27, 1915, in New York, NY; son of Abraham Isaac (an industrialist in the power laundry field who started as an immigrant laundry laborer at $3 a week) and Esther (Levine) Wouk; married Betty Sarah Brown, December 9, 1945; children: Abraham Isaac (deceased), Nathaniel, Joseph. Education: Columbia University, B.A. (with honors), 1934. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Judaic scholarship, Zionist studies, travel (especially in Israel).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Little, Brown & Co., 3 Center Plaza, Ste. 100, Boston, MA 02108.
CAREER: Gag writer for radio comedians, New York City, 1934–35; scriptwriter for Fred Allen, 1936–41; U.S. Treasury Department, "dollar-a-year-man," writing and producing radio plays to promote war bond sales, 1941; self-employed writer, 1946–. Visiting professor, Yeshiva University, 1953–57; scholar in residence, Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, 1973–74; lectured in China, 1982. Trustee, College of the Virgin Islands, 1962–69; member of board of directors, Washington National Symphony, 1969–71, and Kennedy Center Productions, 1974–75; member of advisory council, Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange, 1981–87. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1942–46; served on Pacific Ocean aboard two destroyer-minesweepers, U.S.S. Zane and U.S.S. Southard; became lieutenant; received four campaign stars and Presidential Unit Citation.
MEMBER: International Platform Association (Ralph Waldo Emerson award, 1981), Authors Guild, PEN, Dramatists Guild, Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Writers Guild of America East, Century Club (New York City), Bohemian Club (San Francisco); Cosmos Club, Metropolitan Club (both Washington, DC).
AWARDS, HONORS: Richard H. Fox Prize, 1934; Pulitzer Prize in fiction, 1952, for The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II; Columbia University Medal of Excellence, 1952; L.H.D., Yeshiva University, 1955; LL.D., Clark University, 1960; Litt.D., American International University, 1979, Ph.D., Bar-Ilan University, 1990; Alexander Hamilton Medal, Columbia College Alumni Association, 1980; American Book Award nomination, 1981, for War and Remembrance; Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, International Platform Association, 1981; University of California—Berkeley Medal, 1984; Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, 1986; Washingtonian Book Award, 1986, for Inside, Outside, Yad Vashem KaZetnik award, 1990.
Aurora Dawn; or, The True History of Andrew Reale, Containing a Faithful Account of the Great Riot, Together With the Complete Texts of Michael Wilde's Oration and Father Stanfield's Sermon (novel; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1947, reprinted, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1983.
The City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder and His Cousin, Cliff (novel; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection; Family Book Club selection; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1948, published as The City Boy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1952, published as City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.
The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II (Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection; Literary Guild alternate selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1951, reprinted, Franklin Library (Franklin Center, PA), 1977, published as The Caine Mutiny, Dell (New York, NY), 1966.
Marjorie Morningstar (novel; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1955, reprinted, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1977.
This Is My God (nonfiction; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1959, published as This Is My God: The Jewish Way of Life, 1970, revised edition, Collins (London, England), 1973.
Youngblood Hawke (novel; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1962.
Don't Stop the Carnival (novel; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1965.
The "Lomokome" Papers, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1968.
The Winds of War (novel; Literary Guild selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1971.
War and Remembrance (novel; sequel to The Winds of War; Literary Guild selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Book Club selection), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1978.
Inside, Outside (novel; Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985.
The Hope, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
The Glory, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
The Will to Live on: This Is Our Heritage, Cliff Street Books (New York, NY), 2000.
A Hole in Texas, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.
The Traitor (two-act; first produced on Broadway at Forty-Eighth Street Theater, April 4, 1949), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1949.
Slattery's Hurricane (screenplay; produced by Twentieth Century-Fox, 1949), Permabooks, 1956.
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (two-act; based on his novel The Caine Mutiny; first produced in Santa Barbara, CA, 1953; produced on Broadway at Plymouth Theater, January 20, 1954), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1954, reprinted, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1974.
Nature's Way (two-act comedy; first produced on Broadway at Coronet Theater, October 15, 1957), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1958, reprinted, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1977.
Also author of screenplay "The Winds of War," ABC-TV, 1983, and co-author of screenplay "War and Remembrance," ABC-TV, 1988.
ADAPTATIONS: The Caine Mutiny was filmed by Columbia in 1954, starring Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg; The City Boy was made into a motion picture by Columbia in 1950; Warner Bros. filmed Marjorie Morningstar and Youngblood Hawke in 1958 and 1964, respectively. A television adaptation of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, with Barry Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, and Frank Lovejoy, aired on "Ford Star Jubilee" in 1955; The Winds of War and War and Remembrance were adapted as television miniseries airing on ABC-TV in 1983 and 1988, respectively.
SIDELIGHTS: An American novelist and playwright of Russian-Jewish heritage, Herman Wouk received the 1952 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II and has since published several other bestsellers, including The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. The Atlantic's Edward Weeks called him a compelling narrator "who uses large canvases and who, without much fuss for style or symbolism, drives his story ahead with an infectious belief in the people he is writing about." According to a reviewer for Time, Wouk's chief significance is that "he spearheads a mutiny against the literary stereotypes of rebellion—against three decades of U.S. fiction dominated by skeptical criticism, sexual emancipation, social protest, and psychoanalytic sermonizing." He remains, wrote Pearl K. Bell in Commentary, "an unembarrassed believer in such 'discredited' forms of commitment as valor, gallantry, leadership, patriotism." Because of the reaffirmation of traditional values in his works, Wouk has enjoyed wide readership but has also been accused by some critics of pandering to popular prejudice.
Wouk began writing fiction in 1943 while on sea duty on the Pacific Ocean, and he later used his Navy experience aboard the U.S.S. Zane and U.S.S. Southard as background for his third novel, The Caine Mutiny (which is not autobiographical). The book is not concerned with battles at sea but with adherence to appointive authority. The conflict centers around Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, who, according to W.J. Stuckey in The Pulitzer Prize Novels, "manifests a professional incompetence that will probably remain unparalleled in or out of fiction." When it appears that Queeg is too terrified to issue the necessary orders to save the ship during a typhoon, Lieutenant Maryk, the ship's executive officer, is persuaded by Lieutenant Keefer and his followers to seize control. Maryk is subsequently tried for making a mutiny but is acquitted through the efforts of Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, an adept trial lawyer. Ironically, at a party celebrating Maryk's acquittal, Greenwald tells Maryk that it is he, Maryk, (and not Queeg) who is morally guilty, for he deserted a military system that had, despite its flaws, protected America from foreign fascists.
Several critics considered Wouk's treatment of the military affair insightful and carefully constructed. Harry Gilroy, for example, wrote in the New York Times that Wouk "has a profound understanding of what Navy men should be, and against some who fell short of the mark he has fired a deadly broadside." Edmund Fuller pointed out in his Man in Modern Fiction that the book's ability "to view the problem within the inescapable military premise without oversimplifying it" distinguishes The Caine Mutiny from other World War II novels. Discussing the justification of the mutiny in his In My Opinion, Orville Prescott commented that it is "the crux of [the novel, and] Mr. Wouk develops it extremely well, with racy wit and genial humor, with lively pace and much ingenuity of incident and with unexpected subtlety." Similarly, a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement concluded: "So convincingly has Mr. Wouk created his officers, so subtly has he con-trived the series of incidents that culminate in the final drama, that, given both the characters and the situations, the climax is perfectly acceptable."
Stuckey, however, saw the climax as "the unwarranted whitewash" of Queeg: "Throughout three-fourths of the novel, Captain Queeg is a thoroughly incompetent and badly frightened man. However, toward the close of the book Wouk springs a wholly unprepared-for surprise: Queeg, he tells us, is not really the incompetent everyone thinks him; he is the victim of ambitious and cowardly subordinates…. While it is easy to understand the reason for Lieutenant Greenwald's emotional defense of the United States Navy, it is difficult to see why he—an intelligent trial lawyer, we are told—defends an incompetent American ship's captain who had not served in the Atlantic and who, if he had encountered Nazi warships, would have fled in terror. Greenwald's only defense of Queeg is that he was a member of the regular navy. It would make as much sense to defend a doctor guilty of malpractice on the grounds that he engaged in a humane calling…. The war in Europe and Hitler's treatment of the Jews had nothing to do with Queeg's or Maryk's innocence or guilt."
Eric Bentley found the same weakness in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," Wouk's play based on the court martial sequence of the novel. Discussing the theme that the important thing is not to save a particular ship but to preserve the authority of commanders, Bentley wrote in the New Republic: "There is a good point here, and there must surely be a good play in it—a play that would show up the sentimentality of our prejudice against commanders and in favor of mutineers. If, however, Mr. Wouk wanted to write such a play, he chose the wrong story and told it in the wrong way, for we spend three quarters of the evening hoping that Queeg—the commander—will be found insane and the mutineers vindicated. When, in the very last scene, Mr. Wouk explains that this is not the right way to take the story, it is too late. We don't believe him. At best we say that he is preaching at us a notion that ought to have been dramatized. And no amount of shock technique—not even the reiterated image of Jews melted down for soap—can conceal the flaw."
Marjorie Morningstar, Wouk's fourth novel, also focuses on rebellion, but in a civilian context. The book traces the life of a beautiful, intelligent girl who renounces the values and authority of her hard-working Jewish parents only to end up, years later, affirming them as a suburban matron and community servant.
E.W. Foell noted in the Christian Science Monitor that Wouk "has not flinched at what he sees in his characters' thoughts, [but] many of his readers are likely to." A Time critic wrote that, indeed, "Wouk [sets] teeth on edge by advocating chastity before marriage, suggesting that real happiness for a woman is found in a home and children, cheering loud and long for the American middle class and blasting Bohemia and Bohemians. Wouk is a Sinclair Lewis in reverse." Reviewing the book in the New York Times, Maxwell Geismar believed that "here as in The Caine Mutiny [the conflict] is settled by a final bow to the red-tape of a bureaucracy or to the properties of a social class, under the impression that these are among the eternal verities. Marjorie Morningstar is very good reading indeed. But to this reviewer at least the values of true culture are as remote from its polished orbit as are, at base, the impulses of real life."
Leslie A. Fiedler, however, sees the most popular novel of 1955 as untraditional in one regard. In Love and Death in the American Novel, Fiedler called Marjorie Morningstar "the first fictional celebration of the mid-twentieth-century detente between the Jews and middle-class America." He explained: "In the high literature of Europe and, more slowly, in that of the United States, gentile and Jew have joined forces to portray the Jewish character as a figure representing man's fate in … an age of rootlessness, alienation, and terror, in which the exiled condition so long thought peculiar to the Jew comes to seem the common human lot…. Wouk [suggests] … that the Jew was never … the rootless dissenter,… but rather the very paragon of the happy citizen at home … in short, Marjorie Morningstar."
After Marjorie Morningstar, Wouk interrupted his career as a novelist to write a short, clear account of the Jewish faith from a personal viewpoint—something he had been thinking of doing for years. Dedicated to the memory of his grandfather, Mendel Leib Levine, a rabbi from Minsk, This Is My God was published in 1959 and became a best-seller. Then, with Youngblood Hawke and Don't Stop the Carnival, Wouk returned to writing fiction, but he also began work on a second ambition: a panoramic novel of World War II.
Wouk first considered doing a global war novel in 1944, according to Time's Timothy Foote. Later, The Caine Mutiny "threatened to sprawl in that direction," noted Foote, "with more home-front material and a subplot in Europe. Wisely, Wouk cut it back and waited." Having begun reading standard histories in 1962, Wouk moved to Washington two years later to utilize the National Ar-chives and Library of Congress, as well as to interview surviving military leaders. His quest for information also led him to England, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Iran, and the Soviet Union. Due to the scope of his task, Wouk ended up writing not one but two novels: The Winds of War and a sequel, War and Remembrance. "Since both have been best sellers, it is likely that more Americans have learned about, or remembered, the war through Wouk's account than from any other single source in the last decade," claimed Michael Mandelbaum in the Political Science Quarterly.
Generally praised by critics for their depth and accuracy of detail, the two books may be described as the history of the Second World War seen through the eyes of an American family and their immediate friends and contacts. The Winds of War takes Commander Victor "Pug" Henry and his family from the invasion of Poland to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and War and Remembrance details their experiences from Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Over the course of the war, Henry serves as a special presidential envoy; meets Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and Mussolini; is in Hawaii the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor; is present at the summit meetings off Nova Scotia in 1940 and in Tehran in 1943; is in London during the Battle of Britain; accompanies the Harriman-Beaverbrook mission to Moscow in 1941; participates in the battles of Midway, Guadalcanal, and Leyte Gulf; tours the Russian front in 1944; and even comes in contact with people working on the Manhattan Project. What he fails to witness, members of his family see: the invasion of Poland, the war in North Africa, the fall of Singapore, and the horrors of Auschwitz.
In reviewing the two books, critics often point out that this technique of depicting the effects of war on ordinary people (some of whom rub shoulders with the high and mighty) is a familiar one. Timothy Foote, among others, suggested that Wouk's opus is reminiscent of War and Peace—though not of the same quality—and that Wouk's aim is "nothing less than to do for the middle-class American vision of World War II pretty much what [Leo] Tolstoy did for the Battle of Borodino." More often, however, reviewers like Granville Hicks of the New York Times Book Review cited the resemblance between "Pug" Henry and Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd: "Like Lanny, Pug becomes a kind of secret Presidential agent. In this role, he turns up at most of the places where history is being made."
Several critics charged that the technique results in characterization that is purely functional. Though Hicks admited that Wouk has "the gift of compelling narrative," he felt that the characters in The Winds of War, "even Pug Henry, are never living human beings. Although [Wouk] tries to give these men and women some semblance of reality by involving them in more or less complicated love affairs, they remain essentially observers and reporters." Similarly, Pearl K. Bell, reviewing War and Remembrance in Commentary, described the characters as "not merely trivial but offensively so. Time and again, Wouk the student of history writes a brilliantly evocative account of battle—he has mastered every maneuver, knows exactly how submarines, aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, dive bombers work, how the vast machinery of war was deployed during a particular operation—only to return with a dismaying thump to his super-Lanny Budd hero, Captain (eventually Admiral) Victor (Pug) Henry." Foote is willing "to forgive Henry, and the author, the narrative necessities that shoot [Henry] hither and yon and miraculously equip him with the Russian and German necessary to do his work for Wouk, F.D.R., and the reader. [But] not so the other Henrys. The wife who would worry about getting her hair done on the day of Armageddon, a wayward daughter caught up in the sleazy radio industry in New York, two naval-officer sons, all are conventional appurtenances, without the emotional or dynastic depth to support a drama on the scale of World War II."
Nevertheless, Michael Mandelbaum asserted that Wouk's aim was to create something not purely fictional and that his "hybrid literary genre" of historical romance "turns out to be singularly appropriate." Reviewing The Winds of War in the Midwest Quarterly, Richard R. Bolton wrote: "Critics who have castigated the book for failing in various ways as a novel have seemingly overlooked the author's description of it as a romance. That form is older, and adheres to rather different standards, than the novel. Much criticism directed at the book's emphasis of incident and plot over deep character development, or its unfashionably detailed descriptions of people's appearances, becomes immaterial if one accepts Wouk's idea of what The Winds of War is—a historical romance, with a didactic purpose. That purpose is to dramatize the author's ideas about his themes—how the 'curse' emerged, how we might constructively understand it, and how 'men of good will' have been involved with it."
A major theme of the two books, according to Mandelbaum, "centers on the German question. Why did the Germans do it? Why did they cause so much trouble? Why, especially, did they behave in such brutal, aggressive fashion? These questions arise again and again, and Wouk has different characters give different answers—[geopolitical, political, cultural, historical]. Together they make for a symposium on the central puzzle of the twentieth century." Mandelbaum suggested that at the heart of the German question is the fate of the Jews under the Third Reich, the description of which "gives the two books their enduring message, a message that neither plain fiction nor standard history could convey as forcefully. It is not, [however,] the only, nor perhaps the primary, message that the author intends."
Wouk widens the scope of the story by presenting a German perspective on the war through excerpts of General Armin von Roon's World Empire Lost, an imaginary treatise based on actual writings of German generals. Bolton claimed that von Roon's views, "and (in places) Henry's 'later' comments on them, jolt the reader out of enough preconceptions to make him more receptive to Wouk's own explanations of why things turned out as they did, or (more important) how they might have been made to turn out better." Bolton surmised that, according to Wouk, World War II was a "natural" disaster in that it arose from fallible human nature: "Human cruelty, of which war is the most massive and spectacular manifestation, occurs not because most people are cruel, but because most people are weak or lazy, or too wishful to perceive in time what truly cruel people like the Nazis are about…. Given that fallibility, World War II, and possibly other wars since, probably could not have been avoided." But, he continued, "given also the availability of enough men with the training and virtues of Victor Henry—the truly 'best' in Wouk's view, those who do not lack conviction—that war, and possibly others since, could have been ameliorated, at least. It was not ameliorated, because democratic societies, notably ours, have little stomach for the unpleasant facts that are a military professional's daily fare."
Thus, Bolton discerns a thematic relation to The Caine Mutiny: "Captain Henry can be seen as the fulfillment and justification of Lt. Barney Greenwald's unexpected and much discussed encomium to Regular Navy officers in the post-trial scene of The Caine Mutiny. Greenwald pays his tributes not so much to the Caine's fallen captain as to what-Queeg-could-have-been …—the selfless and dedicated guardian of a reckless and unappreciative nation's safety. In Henry, Wouk presents a man who really is what Queeg could only try, pretend, or fail to be, the 'compleat' and admirable United States Navy officer." Pearl K. Bell believed that Wouk's traditionalist support of the military career man will strike many "as at best naive, at worst absurdly out of touch with the Catch-22 lunacy of all war, including the war against Hitler. [However,] it is precisely to confute such facile and ahistorical cynicism that Wouk devotes so large and sober a part of his novel to the Final Solution and the ideological poison that overwhelmed the German people during Hitler's twelve years of power."
In Wouk's eyes, men like Victor Henry, wrote Bolton, have instincts and habits that "predispose them to be builders and preservers…. 'Constructive' rather than creative, they build things that are not particularly original, but are for Wouk the cement of civilization—families, homes, churches, firms, and especially, professional reputations. What repels Capt. Henry first about Nazi racism is that it destroys these things, and judges men on factors other than their accomplishments. Only after learning of the Einsatzgruppen's atrocities does he react to Nazi racism with more visceral rage." Referring to the one-word Hebrew epigraph of The Winds of War, "Remember!," Bolton concluded: "Part of remembering, in Wouk's sense, would be to emulate Victor Henry and to listen, early and attentively, to those men who live in his tradition. If we do not, the author suggests,… it becomes too easy to look away, to make excuses while the massacres begin, while terrorism becomes pardonable."
Wouk's 1985 novel, Inside, Outside, "comes as close to being an outright autobiography as he is likely to write," declared John Eisenhower in the Chicago Tribune Book World. It tells of a Jewish man who, like Wouk, was born in New York City in 1915, the son of immigrant parents who established a commercial laundry business. Like Wouk, protagonist Israel David Goodkind—"Yisroelke" to his friends and family on the "inside"—worked as a gag writer, although Goodkind becomes a lawyer rather than a novelist. Goodkind is, however, writing his memoirs, which transforms Wouk's novel into "a paean to the American Jewish experience," according to Diversion contributor Sybil S. Steinberg. Unifying the novel, which deals by turns with Good-kind's present reality as a speech writer for U.S. President Richard Nixon and with Goodkind's childhood and relatives, is the tension between the "inside" (which includes Jewish religious life, values, and heritage as well as the search for identity for Jew or gentile) and the "outside" (secular American life).
The novel—Wouk's first in seven years—received mixed reviews. Critics such as Steinberg praised the "breezy, humorous style" in which it is written and cited its compassion and wisdom. Eisenhower wrote, it is "an easy-to-read, informative tale that … provides an enlightening perspective on Jewish attitudes." He singled out one scene in which "Jews of varying per-suasions … exchange views and insults" and concluded that "that scene alone, which illuminates so much of the current Jewish dilemma, gives this novel the right to be regarded as Wouk's most significant work since 'The Caine Mutiny.'" In contrast, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times found the novel "remarkably predictable" and, "worst of all,… smug." Others criticized the book for superficiality and expressed reservations about what Bill Wine in the Philadelphia Inquirer deemed "the failure of Wouk's storytelling proclivities to break out. The narrative, though carefully wrought, somehow registers as out of kilter, as if the seemingly appropriate admixture of memories, insights, observations and descriptions were really a convenience embraced by a writer unable to find a handle on his material." Nonetheless, Wine approvingly concluded that, "on the whole, Inside, Outside is an entertaining X-ray of being Jewish in America." Novelist James Michener, reviewing the book in the New York Times Book Review, judged it "ambitious," lauding its segments as "compact, beautifully focused and often hilarious." Among the critics who acknowledged faults, several, like Steinberg, still maintained that "the universality of [the] theme … lifts this novel above the level of inbred American Jewish experience. For Inside, Outside is about anyone who must reconcile private and public commitments. It is about living a good life on many levels, and while it makes no pretension of being profound, it is funny, wise, and kind."
Nearly a decade later Wouk produced two expansive historical novels on the founding of the modern state of Israel. The Hope picks up at the end of the Second World War and recounts the creation and early development of Israel through the lives of several military men and their families. The central character is Zev Barak, an Israeli officer who participates in the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Suez Campaign, and the Six Day War of 1967, and who is privy to political and diplomatic intrigue involving David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. In The Glory, the sequel, Wouk continues his story of Israel's struggle for nationhood through the experiences of the Barak family, covering the period from 1967 to the early 1980s.
Though finding weakness in Wouk's characterizations and obtuse rendering of military action in The Hope, People reviewer Sara Nelson noted that "Wouk has invented plenty of behind-the-scenes machinations that make for frequent page turning—as well as educational reading." Washington Post Book World contributor Webster Schott similarly found the narrative of The Hope compelling despite "literary lapses." According to Schott, "burning Jewish pride or chauvinism … animates Wouk's novel. It is not an emotion likely to lead to epiphany in fiction but it makes for heroic storytelling, especially when all the wars are for survival and all the military odds are unfavorable." Irving Abrahamson wrote of The Hope in the Chicago Tribune Books, "Though Wouk serves up a full cast of characters and keeps the pot constantly boiling with their largely unfulfilled love affairs, his primary aim is to describe the heroic aspects of Israel's rebirth and to trace Israel's part in the game of power politics played out by Britain, France, Russia and America in the Middle East."
Despite noting melodramatic elements in both novels, Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor praised The Glory for Wouk's ability to "humanize these intense events" while incorporating major historical figures. Relying on authentic sources for his material, Wouk provides several pages of historical notes in The Hope and claims to have quoted Arab leaders directly from historical records and contemporary journalism. "Though underappreciated by literary types," wrote Arnold Beichman in the National Review, "Herman Wouk is one of our outstanding historical novelists."
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