Archives For Herman Wouk


Brief Reviews of

The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion.
Herman Wouk.
Audiobook:  Hachette Audio, 2010.
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In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street,
One Sleepover at a Time
Peter Lovenheim.
Hardback: Perigee Books, 2010.
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Novelist Herman Wouk is best known for The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, his epic two-volume account of individuals caught up in the terrors of World War II. Wouk, soon to turn ninety-six, has lived an extraordinary life: his father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia; Wouk got his start as a radio dramatist and gag writer for Fred Allen and other comedians; he served as an officer on two destroyer minesweepers in the Pacific during World War II, experience that he turned into his novel The Caine Mutiny, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into both a play and a film; and most of his subsequent career has been spent writing well-received novels.

      Less well-known about Wouk is that he has been an observing Orthodox Jew most of his life. In the flush of his early success he led a secular lifestyle, but, inspired by his grandmother, he turned back to his faith in his mid-20s. On board ship during the war he would lay his tefillin for saying his morning prayers. In his 1959 survey of Judaism, This is My God: The Jewish Way of Life, Wouk recounts how religion permeates his life, that observing times for prayer and study and kashrut are not onerous, but just one more, or mere, part of life. As Wouk remarks, many of his secular friends were amazed that he could grill a tasty rare steak.

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