The Novel That Inspired The Now Classic Film The Caine Mutiny And The Hit Broadway Play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, Herman Wouk S Boldly Dramatic, Brilliantly Entertaining Novel Of Life And Mutiny On A Navy Warship In The Pacific Theater Was Immediately Embraced, Upon Its original Publication In , As One Of The First Serious Works Of American Fiction To Grapple With The Moral Complexities And The Human Consequences Of World War II In The Intervening Half Century, The Caine Mutiny Has Become A Perennial Favorite Of Readers Young And Old, Has Sold Millions Of Copies Throughout The World, And Has Achieved The Status Of A Modern Classic What sets Herman Wouk apart from his successors is his understanding of both characterization and plotting He is great at both The Winds of War books, appearing than 20 years from The Caine Mutiny, are equally brilliant The man was a prodigy.
The Caine Mutiny, happens on an old rustbucket of a tow ship called the Caine Thoughout the book, Wouk teases us, making us hungry for the moment when the crew of the ship blows its collective gasket It was long in coming, but when it did, the courtroom scenes didn t disappoint.
The book revolves around Willie Kieth, who is the only character whose private life is shown If he is the main character, he is marginally so His friends are Steve Maryk, and Tom Keefer, and his antagonist is Commander Queeg I had a lot of fun reading this book The verisimilitude laces and binds the mechanism of life in the Navy, during WW2 What an experience A fully deserved Pulitzer Prize.
I am quite amazed that I like this as much as I did I liked it a lot The setting is a destroyer mine sweeper, the USS Caine, during the Second World War It is dilapidated it is old You do not visit different places you are practically always out on the sea and you are stuck on one lousy boat The jargon is nautical, and I am no expert in that The characters are the crew but each man goes by their rank, and they change rank, their first name, their last name and their nicknames Surprisingly enough, this is confusing only at the beginning There is one woman, of course not one of the crew She is the love interest, at home in New York City And a mother The book is very much a character study This is why the book hit home for me This is why all the difficulties that could have arisen fall away The names, the jargon, the cramped quarters and life stuck on just one boat are not problems because the characters and their milieu become so real You watch boys turn into men You observe how some grow in stature and mature You observe how those in authority dish out commands very differently All are changed by the experiences they share At the same time, each character retains that which makes them unique What makes one able to shoulder responsibility while another one folds We observe how each man copes with danger, fear and stress The reactions are myriad I leave the book feeling that each character is drawn consistently Each has become real to me None are cardboard figures This is why I liked the book as much as I did.
The book looks at the need for authority and obedience in the navy, particularly in a war situation How does one, how should one deal with a subordinate who thinks, who has a mind of his own and comes up with creative solutions Some men are quite simply not born to lead During the Second World War finding an adequate number of good captains was difficult you had no choice but to make do with what you had Life on the boat is drawn extremely well The jargon is not explained, because it wouldn t be As you proceed you learn You have seen how the word is used, and you come to understand and never does the telling loose its feel of authenticity.
I spoke of a love thread This too is very well done Realistically There are no simple answers provided You observe and think and draw your own conclusions It is important to note that the book was published in 1951 It is of course making a statement about the military.
Kevin Pariseau reads the audiobook absolutely wonderfully His intonations perfectly personify the characters In a conversation he consistently and skillfully switches between characters You hear who is speaking You hear the characters emotional state as events unfold There is a storm There is a fire Not only are the events dramatically and accurately written, but they are also perfectly read by Pariseau There is not a doubt in my mind that the audiobook narration should be given anything but five stars The narration could not be better.
The story has action, and it has humor and it will get you thinking.
Top Ten Reasons to Give The Caine Mutiny a Chance10 Wouk s clear, compelling, Pulitzer Prize winning prose.
9 The boredom of military service, even in wartime, has never been so interesting.
8 The USS Caine DMS feels like home no matter who s in command 7 The ineluctable build of Queeg s collapse.
6 Willie s slow and certain becoming.
5 Keefer s behaviour insuring that no side is right 4 The best novelized military trial ever written.
3 The complexity of Wouk s characters, even when they only appear in a small portion of the book.
2 The painfully true love affair of Willie and May1 Marbles, strawberries, and yellow stains.
In many ways this is a difficult book, at least to categorize and or rate It was also a difficult read for me at times, by turns absorbing, slightly boring, almost exciting, very infuriating, frustrating and thought provoking I suppose most will know at least the outline of the story here as it s not only a novel, but a play and a movie I ll still try to avoid spoilers here for those who haven t run across it in any form Let me say that the book doesn t fall easily into one category It s a story of men in war, but not just WWII There are also internal wars, class wars and conscious wars My reaction to each of the participants here were my own I could not bring myself to dislike Queeg while I strongly disliked most of the Jr Officers The book is quite likely better than my 3 star rating may suggest, however I did find my mind wandering especially when we were with a certain young ne er do well trying to get his love life straight The class warfare here has some interesting implications and bears greatly on the book s climax and conclusion I do recommend it and suggest you decide for yourself.
Herman Wouk is a master storyteller I read his works The Winds of War and War and Remembrance in the first few months after their release and they have consistently stayed on my favorite books ever read list But for some reason I hadn t read anything else by him I think perhaps I was afraid that they wouldn t live up to the standard But this book is brilliant The characters are rich, flawed, unique and real The plot is well paced, finely written Wouk s ability to tell the story of war is so good As a reader I can hear the bombs drop, I can feel the sting of salt water sloshing through the door during a gale, I can taste the food He paints the picture so vividly He draws with words and it is a lovely experience.
Excellent My first Super Favorite of 2017.
The Caine Mutiny begins with character development of Willie Keith, his affluent family and worries over the possible consequences of having an immigrant girlfriend as he goes from being a spoiled, immature Princeton grad and amateur pianist to life in the U.
S Navy during WWII.
This brilliant classic work follows Willie aboard ship where we see how the men live, eat and occasionally sleep while performing their duties in an environment filled with dailyand nightlychaos and disruption under the command of a nauseating, deceitful, paranoid and cowardly crazy lunatic Captain.
A truly captivating story with manyI can t believe thismoments and a dramatic highly effective ending I thought fit the bill.
It is interesting to note that Wouk s own personal experiences aboard a destroyer minesweeper in the pacific during WWII influenced parts of this novelUpdate February 16, 2017 Watched the movie with Bogey playing the part of crazy Captain Queeg, and found it to be very similar to the book except for Willie Keith s girlfriend May who has a much complicated personality in the novel making for a much interesting ending For me, overall, the written word was better than the visual expressing feeling and a bit detail Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns Who s gonna do it You I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines You have that luxury You have the luxury of not knowing what I know that Santiago s death, while tragic, probably saved lives And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan Jessep, in A Few Good Men See, while I was studying law n old Keefer here was writing his play for the Theatre Guild, and Willie here was on the playing fields of Princeton, all that time these birds we call regulars these stuffy, stupid Prussians, in the Navy and the Army were manning guns Course they weren t doing it to save my mom from Hitler, they were doing it for dough, like everybody else does what they do Question is, in the last analysis last analysis what do you do for dough Commander Queeg , for dough, was standing guard on this fat dumb and happy country of ours Barney Greenwald in Herman Wouk s The Caine Mutiny The Caine Mutiny is a turducken of a book Its 537 pages are overstuffed with plots, subplots, and narrative excursions with main characters, secondary characters, and cameos Somewhere between the covers is a taut, 200 page legal thriller arising from the titular mutiny aboard the USS Caine, and the subsequent court martial I suspect some people will find the book bloated, and dislike or avoid it Others, and I count myself among them, love it for that very reason This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is Tolstoyean in its scope and ambitions For those with the patience to settle in and let a story unfold at its own pace, it has many rewards This is first and foremost a war novel, and a classic to boot But it s not your typical war novel There is hardly a battle worth mentioning just a few shots fired, and a lone kamikaze In its way, it is representative than its action packed predecessors Only a fraction of soldiers and sailors actually experienced the terrible contest of battle Most served in support roles, away from the front lines The old, decrepit destroyer minesweeper USS Caine serves on the fringes of war She seldom sweeps any mine Most of the time, she is relegated to escort duty or target towing The sailors aboard her, most of them civilians just a short time before, are trying to get by as best they can Here, boredom, tedium, and low grade discomfort rule Their greatest enemy is never the Japanese it is rather their new commander, the high strung Philip Francis Queeg Queeg is Wouk s greatest creation A paranoid Ahab who seems, at first blush, to be tyrannical, despotic, unbalanced, mendacious, and a coward The officers aboard the Caine, especially the resident novelist, Lt Keefer something of a stand in for Wouk , think him mad Queeg s incompetence poor ship handling, blame distribution, jumpiness under fire lend credence to this belief Wouk never allows you to get too comfortable with this idea, though For The Caine Mutiny is also a psychological study, and it is always framing and reframing the story, so that the reader is never quite sure what to conclude Is Queeg, in fact, mentally ill Or are his officers, in fact, mutinously disloyal The dialectic continues really until the last page Much of The Caine Mutiny a is Campbell esque hero s journey, except that in the world of destroyer minesweepers, there aren t really heroes The main character, the man we follow most closely Wouk employs an authoritarian, godlike third person perspective is young Lt j.
g Willie Keith In Wouk s prologue, he portentously intones that the story to follow turns on Keith s personality as the massive door of a vault turns on a small jewel bearing Before we get to that point, however, we follow Willie through midshipmen school, to his posting on an admiral s staff in Hawaii, and finally to his placement as communications officer on the Caine We are also treated to his endless, consistently irritating relationship with lounge singer May Wynn Of all the digressions Wouk takes, this is the hardest to bear Yet, if it was taken away, I think it d make for a lesser novel In The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, Wouk gave us War and Peace transplanted to World War II Those two massive novels are unparalleled reading experiences In them, Wouk attempts to swallow the world He tries to balance the cosmic with the intimate to weigh the sheer scale of a world war against the concerns, fears, hopes, and doubts of individuals Wouk does a similar thing here, though on a lesser scale He enjoys positioning the tininess of the Caine s role against the massive backdrop of the Pacific War He comments on the inability of the Caine s officers and men to understand their place in the grand scheme of things Wouk points out that we readers have an advantage over his characters, in that they cannot see over the horizon This proves an effective technique in giving you an understanding of what it might have been like to serve in the backwater of the greatest conflict to ever roil the earth Wouk served on a destroyer minesweeper during World War II, and his evocation of the experience is almost tactile You spend a lot of time on the old Caine, with her peeling paint, her rusted deck, rank with the smell of sweat and stack gas Wouk nails the monotony, the rhythms, and the protocols of naval service Most of Wouk s characters are reservists or draftees, who don t respect or understand the Navy s processes Threaded into the narrative is Wouk s defense of the institution, even when it seems aggressively wrongheaded It feels like the lessons that Willie learn throughout the novel are the ones that Wouk himself probably learned In an almost apologetic forward, Wouk stresses that this is a fictional work, lest one think that such a thing as mutiny could ever happen in the U.
S Navy The pivotal moment of The Caine Mutiny is a typhoon At the height of the storm, the executive officer Maryk a decent man a fisherman perhaps the most likeable character in a book that is short on truly likeable characters decides to remove Queeg from command using Article 184 This act gives the novel its title surprisingly, though, it does not come across as a climax It almost seems buried, arriving somewhere in the middle of a relatively hefty tome.
As a writer, Wouk has been damned by faint praise He won the Pulitzer, but critics today tend to compliment him by focusing on the level of his ambition, rather than the crafting of his prose, or the validity of his insights Partially, this is a tonal critique Wouk is generally pro military and sees war as a sometimes necessary evil, positions that never fit with postwar, Vietnam influenced classics like Catch 22.
In terms of style, he is not formally daring, I suppose This isn t Mailer A certain strand of conservatism runs through this work and also The Winds of War and War and Remembrance He has wiped away the general obscenity and blasphemy of shipboard talk in order to avoid in his words annoying some readers The existence of sex and talk about sex is acknowledged as a possibility, but never described in detail The result can be a little jarring A story of shipboard life that feels absolutely true and, at the same time, patently false With that said, I think Wouk deserves a lot acclaim As in, he might be the best war novelist of all time He is the master of the epic His characters are interesting and fully realized It is telling that none of the people in The Caine Mutiny are all good or all bad They all have dimension Willie is our protagonist, but he is as callow and irritating as hell for much of the time Wouk s sense of place is spot on He is a grand assembler of detail, so that the novel s world envelops you, whether that s the Caine s wardroom or a dingy New York City lounge The dialogue, especially the court martial, is also quite sharp, good enough to be transplanted almost verbatim into the film version featuring Humphrey Bogart s towering performance as Queeg The Caine Mutiny is a masterpiece, a powerful study of command, of loyalty, and of duty, set on one of the most unlikely stages of all the antique decks of a misfit ship sailing at the outer periphery of world historical events.