Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1952 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk


Publisher: Penguin

Length: 566 pages

About: Incompetent Captain get’s his comeuppance

Style: 3rd person

Where: Pacific

When: 1944



Publisher’s synopsis:

It was not a mutiny in the old-time sense, of course, with flashing cutlasses, a captain in chains, and desperate sailors turning outlaws. After all, it happened in 1944 in the United States Navy. But the court of inquiry recommended trial for mutiny, and the episode became known as ‘the Caine mutiny’ throughout the service.



Look, Steve.Your trouble is the same as mine, except that I see through it. We’re civilians, free citizens, and it burns us to be treated as dumb slaves by these Queegs, who are the most colossal ignoramuses in the world except for their book. Don’t forget one thing. Right now, the book is all that matters, because of the war.




Good: one of the best novels about the Second World War so far written by an American.

New York Times, Orville Prescott, 23rd March 1951 


Not so good:

THERE should have been a "mutiny" on the U.S.S. Caine, an old-style destroyer converted to a minesweeper, if Herman Wouk's excruciatingly ludicrous and infuriating log of its voyages around the Pacific is accurate.

New York Times, Harry Gilroy, 18th March 1951


About the author

Herman Wouk was born May 27, 1915 in New York City, the son of Esther (née Levine) and Abraham Isaac Wouk. His family was Jewish and 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 was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity and studied under philosopher Irwin Edman.


Soon thereafter, he became a radio dramatist, working in David Freedman's "Joke Factory" and later with Fred Allen for five years and then, in 1941, for the United States government, writing radio spots to sell war bonds.


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.
























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<1951> -  <1953>















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Age guide: 12



Novels by same author:


1954 Broadway play and 1954 film starring Humphrey Bogart






2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

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