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Herman Wouk, 'The Jackie Robinson Of Jewish-American Fiction,' Dies At 103

"Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk has died. Wouk was famous for his sprawling World War II novels, including The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, and for his portrayal of Jewish-Americans in the novel Marjorie Morningstar. He died in his sleep today at his home in Palm Springs, Calif."

"Many people might remember Wouk for a certain incident in involving strawberries in The Caine Mutiny, which became a film in 1954. After having a breakdown at sea, the tyrannical Captain Queeg accuses his crew of stealing a quart of strawberries and becomes obsessed with finding the culprit."

"Humphrey Bogart played Queeg in the film, but he wasn't exactly what Wouk had in mind when he wrote the character. In the book, Wouk described the captain as 'a small man" with "strands of sandy hair across an almost bald head.' In 2004, the author told NPR, 'Now Captain Queeg is Humphrey Bogart. There's nothing you can do about it, and I'm perfectly content with [it.] That was one of the great performances, I think, of his career.'"

"The Caine Mutiny was Wouk's most celebrated book, but he had a substantial career both before and after it. He got his start in writing years earlier, in comedy. For five years starting in 1936, Wouk wrote jokes and sketches for the popular radio host Fred Allen. But after Pearl Harbor, the 26-year-old enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific. In his off hours, Wouk began to write Aurora Dawn, a novel that got mixed reviews. His second book, City Boy, did worse. But The Caine Mutiny put him on the map. It won a Pulitzer Prize, it was a bestseller and it became a play and a movie."


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