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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
The Caine Mutiny
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on 22 July 2017
Herman Wouk's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. A truly great coming-of-age saga! The scènes surrounding the Mutiny, and the subsequent Court Martial, comprise some of the finest dramatic writing committed to print in the 20th century. Wouk is a genius; unfortunately too many modern critics are bigoted idiots.
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on 18 May 2015
After nearly 70 years, this remains a great book.
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on 21 April 1997
The Caine Mutiny is not merely another war novel. What makes this book special is the way in which Herman Wouk develops complex characters and relationships within the setting of World War II. He places emphasis on the depth of the characters, rather than the war itself. Because of his attention to the complex attitudes and relationships on board the Caine, it is not necessary for the reader to have a strong naval background in order to understand the situations at hand.
Wouk's main character focus is on Willie Keith. The reader is able to understand his character more than the others because of extensive expository information in the first several chapters. At times the information seemed long-winded and irrelevant, but it achieved its main purpose of establishing the main character, the protagonist for the reader to follow throughout the novel. Because of this personalized insight, the reader receives a biased, yet deeper understanding of the events.
Wouk provides some very intriguing twists and turns throughout the novel, the most poignant of these being the court martial trial. Because of the way Wouk chooses to slant the proceedings, the reader has almost every reason to believe that Maryck will be found guilty. Such elements of irony and surprise make for some suspenseful and highly engaging reading.
Wouk achieves a high level of success with this novel. His use of locus, attention to complexities of character and relationships, and his ability to twist situations create a highly dramatic, touching coming-of-age story centered around the trials of war and command.
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on 22 June 2004
Good literature can transport the reader into the world of the book. Great literature enters the world of the reader. "The Caine Mutiny" is great literature. Many have seen the movie so I can say a little about the story. Set on an obsolete destroyer-minesweeper during World War II, "The Caine Mutiny", seen through the eyes of a young officer, Willie Keith, tells the story of an inadequate captain whose mismanagement leads to his relief from command when a crisis confronts the ship. With romance and a domineering mother, the book intertwines several stories which hold the reader's interest.
Perhaps a Navy veteran would see much about the service in "The Caine Mutiny", I do not know. Although it is set on a naval vessel in wartime, it is much more than a war story, although that it is. I saw much about life in it. It contains instances and characters which I encounter in a life about as far from the Caine as one can imagine. This ability of this book to enter into the world of the reader, even as the reader enters the world of the book, earns "The Caine Mutiny" a place in the canon of great literature.
I enjoy reading, but I cannot remember a book which I was so loath to set down. This book is a real page turner. Years ago my father told me to watch the movie, which I did. I finally took his advise the next step and read the book. Since I cannot return the favor, I will pass it on. READ "THE CAINE MUTINY"!
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on 16 February 1999
Most Americans have probably seen the classic Humphrey Bogart film adaptation of this book. Indeed, the plots are very similar, and the casting, with one exception, was terrific.
Which brings me to the surprise... Willy Keith. Turns out Willy is really a rich, musically talented New Yorker, a little chubby, and quite immature; not the wooden pretty boy we saw in the Film. Indeed the first 100 pages of the book deal with Willy, his musical career, his relationship with his girlfriend, his troubles as a Navy cadet. Beore he sets foot on the Caine, we have the makings of a film in and of itself.
Wouk carefully shows how events, even facts, which we see with our own eyes, can be interperted in dramatically different ways, how very few issues, and NO people, are drawn in black and white. The characters are robust and multi-dimensional, and the relationships between the officers and crew of the Caine, as well as the seemingly all-powerful Naval commands all boil down to decisions and interpertations of flawed men -- and as the doctors tell us during the court martial, none of them is without some form of mental instability; it's simply a matter of how we compensate or adjust to those shortcomings. All of the major characters go through a fascinating self-assessment process, and wind up as different people by the end.
An engaging, enjoyable book, even for someone who's seen the film a dozen times.
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on 6 February 2001
I cannot think of another novel that I have found so consistently entertaining - and I have read it many times by now.
The characters that Wouk created are so cleverly crafted that it is impossible to think of how he might have done it better; as the plot develops and Captain Queeg's "eccentricities" become more alarming to the crew of the Caine, the behaviour of the lead characters is brought into sharp relief; Maryk's stoic loyalty, Keefers's intellectual undermining of the captain, Willie Keith's naivety and, not least, Queeg's bizarre moodswings from affable father-figure to neurotic tyrant are very well drawn indeed.
If this wasn't enough, the final third of the book is taken up by a tense and magnificent courtroom drama!
There are incidents in the book that will stay in your mind a long time after reading it. What a shame that the film wasn't even half as good as the book.
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on 23 August 1999
Quite simply the best you are probably going to find as far as books go in describing what life onboard a Navy ship is like. What I found amazing is that this book was written about the WW2 Navy and I served in the Desert Storm era navy and there was basically no detectable change other than some of the technology described.
But all that aside I think that people who have no interest whatsoever in Sea stories will find that Mr. Wouk understood human nature very well and the characters in this fine book transcend the situation they are described in. Meaning that there are Queegs, Maryks, Keefers, and Keiths running around all over the place (I've worked for a couple of Queegs myself as a matter of fact, I kid you not) and the reading of this book will help them to better understand what motivates people at the core.
I found this book fascinating on many levels and nearly impossiblile to put down after I became drawn in. I think there is a little something for everybody in this one, even if you aren't into the whole military setting.
Highly reccomended - give it a chance and you won't regret it. Mr. Wouk has made the list of my favorite authors with one attempt, which doesn't happen very often.
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on 25 April 1997
This was a required reading for one of my classes. I wasn't overly excited about having to read it. Once I dove in though, it became an exiting adventure on the high seas. Military stories don't usually do much to capture my interest, but Wouk has a way of commanding your attention and opening your eyes to a very interesting situation. His characters are well-developed and the descriptions are very detailed. So much so that I was transformed into the The United States Navy of 1943. By the end of the book, I was actually thinking like a sailor. I really think the popularity of this book could be renewed because this is exactly the kind of story the modern American is thirsty for. Stories of corruption and power have been all over the airways and the big screen in the '90's. Movies like The Firm, several made-for-TV movies, and several news magazine shows have featured this type of topic. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking to get away--away to a rich time in our history, a time when almost anything could happen and ordinary people experienced some very extraordinary things. Open the book and enjoy the ride!!!
Amanda Fritz
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on 1 February 2009
Read the book 20 odd years ago from the library and even though I knew the plot and had seen the film I bought and re-read the story with just as much reward as if new. So well written you are never disappointed with any of the themes which all add up to an excellent reading experience. If WW2 Navy yarns interest you then go for this... top marks on all counts
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on 6 August 1999
To understand the Caine Mutiny it has to be seen in conjunction with Marjorie Morningstar another book written by Wouk in the same period. During that period, Wouk wrote two books about the right of passage from adolescence to maturity. One was The Caine Mutiny and the other was Marjorie Morningstar. In Marjorie Morningstar, we see a naïve girl progress from a star stuck adolescent, totally smitten by the Noel Airman to a mature young woman who sees him for the pathetic, superficial, person that he is. In the Caine Mutiny, Keith goes from a callow mother dominated adolescent to a decisive young man mature beyond his years commanding the Caine on its last voyage to the junkyard having served its purpose. Keith has come through his experience on the Ciane a better man than he may have ever become otherwise. Looking at The Caine Mutiny from this point of view the events of book are secondary although they must be plausible and interesting. The spine of the book is what the stress of war brings out in men (and women) and, in the case of Keith, how it can temper them.
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