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About This Item
For the Broadway play, see The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. The Caine Mutiny is a 1951 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Herman Wouk. The novel grew out of Wouk's personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II and deals with, among other things, the moral and ethical decisions made at sea by the captains of ships. The mutiny of the title is legalistic, not violent, and takes place during a historic typhoon in December 1944.
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Forget about the movie, except that as far as it goes, the characterizations, casting and motivations of players are fairly faithful to the story. In print, The Caine Mutiny is the story of the coming of age of Willie Keith, who barely figures in the movie at all. The Pulitzer-winning novel of 1952 is nothing less than the best fiction ever about the U.S. Navy and the best novel of World War II. By any reckoning, it's Herman Wouk's best work.Life aboard the Caine is mostly tedious and uncomfortable, as the little destroyer-minesweeper escorts convoys through hot expanses of ocean to featureless, desolate destinations. The citizen-sailors of the wardroom exhibit commendable conscience and care for the crew as they develop into seasoned watchstanders. The coffee is hot and strong, the food entirely unremarkable. They receive and decode Navy message traffic, written in realistic Navy telegraphese. (I had to look up the word cognizant when I first read this book, in the eighth grade.) Willie Keith's abiding memory of this time is being awakened routinely in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, the Caine's operational record builds a case for the captain's incompetence and unfitness to command. The typhoon that precipitates the actual mutiny is hisotrical, and the Navy did lose ships in it. The reader will come out the far end of the episode with no doubt that Steve Maryk saved the ship and the captain was not in control of himself, much less the ship, at the peak of the storm.Maryk, a C student from a state college and career fisherman, grapples with the arcane concepts of psychology without the professional tools to evaluate them, egged on by the novelist Tom Keefer, who turns out to be the real villain of this story. Be sure to take note of Keefer's performance as commander of the Caine. Meanwhile, Willie's scorching romance with Mae Wynn, whom any reader can see is intended to be his mate for life, works its way through stormy waters, mostly of Willie's making. It's been adequate to hold the attention of women readers for three generations, in the otherwise entirely masculine contexts of this novel.Wouk's portrayal of the Navy and the Caine are dead on target. His characters are fully developed; it would be impossible for a reader not to care for them. The narrative workmanship in characterization, setting and action is economic, precise, and well paced. This is not just a Navy story, it is a great contribution to the entire body of American literature. I re-read it often.
- Russian Hill Bookstore (US)
- Bookseller Inventory #
- The Caine Mutiny (SIGNED)
- Wouk, Herman
- Jones, George H.
- Book condition
- Used - Near Fine
- Limited Edition
- The Franklin Library
- Place of Publication
- Franklin Center, Pennsylvania
- Date published
- WOUK CAINE MUTINY
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