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The Lawgiver

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  821 ratings  ·  251 reviews
For more than fifty years, legendary author Herman Wouk has dreamed of writing a novel about the life of Moses. Finally, at age ninety-seven, he has found an ingeniously witty way to tell the tale in The Lawgiver, a romantic and suspenseful epistolary novel about a group of people trying to make a movie about Moses in the present day. The story emerges from letters, memos, ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published October 2012)
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The problem with epistolary novels is that they are generally more fun to write than to read – which is why, as a writer, I’ve given up on them. Thanks to Mr. Wouk, the world may be subjected to my efforts again – but first I’m going to study this book to figure out how he did it. Somehow, despite the format, all the characters come through as real 3-dimensional people you care about: from Mr. Wouk himself, who is trying to write a book about Moses and is not too happy to be told that “People do ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Velma rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
It makes me sad giving an elderly (97!) and venerable author such a poor rating, but there you have it. This book did not work for me at all.

I expected to enjoy this tale of the process by which a re-telling of the story of Moses (yes, that Moses) was made into a movie; I did enjoy the bits that are a critique of DeMille's Ten Commandments, but overall Wouk's attempt at what I assume was supposed to be a witty, light read was a flop. Maybe if I wasn't an agnostic gentile I would have found it fu
Susan Tunis
Hollywood, Jews, & Hollywood Jews

Ninety-seven-year-old Herman Wouk (or a fictionalized version of him) is minding his own business. And his business, as you know, is writing novels. He’s finally tackling the ambitious project he’s wanted to write for decades, the story of Moses. It is a huge coincidence, therefore, when a hot Hollywood producer finagles a meeting insisting that he’s the only man for the job of writing a Moses screenplay.

Well, Mr. Wouk wants nothing to do with this. Meetings
I am a long-term fan of Wouk, have read or seen or listened to tons of his historic novels. So when I saw this new book, I did not do my usual "due diligence" (read reviews etc.). All I saw "Herman Wouk" and "Moses". I immediately downloaded it on my brand new Samsung Galaxy, and went to it. To mu surprise, this was not at all what I expected. No deep religious/historic analysis, re-imagining of the iconic figure of 3 world religions. Instead, this is a very entertaining, light, almost chick-lit ...more
MJ Nicholls
Sep 01, 2013 MJ Nicholls marked it as getting-even
This 98-year-old man is the Future of Fiction: "It is an epistolary novel, composed of traditional communications such as letters, memos, and articles, as well as utilizing more contemporary means like e-mails, text messages, and Skype transcripts."
“No one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” —Deuteronomy

A while back, I happened across this verse and it sparked in me an urge to revisit the life of Moses. After all, “No one has ever …” is a pretty strong phrase, particularly in the Bible. And given some of the people he was up against, it says a lot that Moses came out on top of the heap. So off I went through Exodus and Leviticus, searching for insight on what made thi
Jan 05, 2013 K rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: jewish
I love Herman Wouk and love the fact that he's still publishing books at 98. This book was surprisingly modern, too, with e-mails and facebook references and whatnot. Maybe a little too modern for me. I find the new trend of epistolary novels written in sound bytes (see Where'd You Go, Bernadette for another example) a bit too gimmicky and ADD-inducing. I guess I'm old-fashioned in that way; the novels that made me fall in love with Herman Wouk read more like long, sprawling sagas with character ...more
Nancy McKibben
Nov 26, 2012 Nancy McKibben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any reader who enjoys a deft writer
Recommended to Nancy by: NPR interview with author
Shelves: reviewed
The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk

I read and loved Majorie Morningstar years ago - so many years ago that I was startled to hear its author, Herman Wouk, recently interviewed on NPR, as I had assumed that he must have long since died. He is indeed 97, but as evidenced in the interview about his most recent novel, he is still very much on top of his game.

That novel is The Lawgiver, which proceeds from the abiding enigma of Wouk’s life - the desire and the inability to write a novel about the life of Mos
Gotta hand it to Herman Wouk for moving along with the times - this epistolary novel is made up of emails, Skype transcripts, memos, notes, and even just plain old letters, all about bringing to the screen a life of Moses, something Wouk has been wanting to write about for decades but couldn't find a way to do it that satisfied him. The result is an entertaining read that mixes contemporary show business with biblical history. Wouk also includes himself and his late wife (who was also his agent) ...more
Skylar Burris
I didn't realize Herman Wouk was still alive: not only still alive, but still writing, producing The Lawgiver at the age of ninety-seven. I devoured many of his books when I was in high school, so when I saw this one on the bargain rack, I had to snatch it up. The format was a little difficult for me to get used to; I've never been a fan of the epistlatory novel, and this combined letters, e-mails, texts, memos, faxes, and transcripts of Skype and in-person conferences. I suspended my disbelief ...more
Rick F.
Magnificent and highly originally written book by the 97..yes 97 year old icon!!!
Marcie Lovett
Mr. Wouk allegedly set out to write a book about Moses. This is not a book about Moses, but a book about a book about Moses. My criteria for a good read are that it keep me up long past my bedtime and that I engage with the characters. This book met both.

This book probably is not for those looking for another "Winds of War." The style is light, presented in a series of emails, letters, notes, FAXes and recorded phone calls. Although it is a pretty quick read, it does take some concentration. You
Quinby6696 Frank
Growing up I always loved Herman Wouk novels - The Winds of War and War and Remembrance being special favorites. Wouk is now 97 and I was excited to hear him on NPR talking about his latest book, The Lawgiver. Apparently he'd always wanted to write a book about Moses and at 97 "always" is a long time. The Lawgiver is a clever end run around a huge subject. Young, brilliant Margo Solovei, an untried screenwriter is tasked with writing a script for a new Moses movie to be financed by an eccentric ...more
Wouk is now 97 and still has two books planned! For fifty years he has wanted to write a book about Moses but hasn't been able to get it going. Here it is, finally: a lighthearted story about the making of a movie about Moses, composed of diary notes, letters, emails, faxes, phone call transcripts, memos, etc. between the primary people involved in producing and financing the movie, especially the screenwriter, a Jewish woman who abandoned Judaism and her rabbi father, but still retains a deep k ...more
Louise Silk
97 year old Herman Wouk has written an endearing novel constructed entirely of emails, text messages, and recorded phone calls. It is a funny, comedic jab at the silliness of writing a Hollywood movie script.

This is a very Jewish book. The lawgiver is Moses, the screen writer is a Bas Yacov graduate, Wouk and his beloved late wife play a backhanded part approving the script and the connections go on and on.

The ending is neat and tidy, the perfect romantic comedy for a light entertaining evenin
Nov 26, 2012 R. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
A delicious, light and frothy read - a totally unexpected treat from the author of those weighty tomes of tumultuous wars, those rigorously romantic romans of remembrance. The authorial invasions are mercifully brief and, meh, help the story along...although, yes, a star is docked - and prolly my fault - because I didn't quite lock on to the need of the algae/gasoline storyline. But more 4 1/2 stars: Herman is hovering on the hundred-years mark, and may he live to 120.

I read this book in 3 hours! Amazing! If your like me and likes to peak at the last page before you are halfway done with it... Don't! It puts the entire book into perspective! I got chills from it!
Yvann S
"God was right about Adam: for a man to live alone is not good. I can't spare a rib."

Herman Wouk (yes, that Herman Wouk) has been trying to write a novel about Moses for fifty years. As he finally sits down to start, Hollywood comes hurtling into his life; an eccentric billionaire will bankroll a film about Moses if Wouk will approve the script by unknown ex-Jew Margolit Solovei. Margo's desperation to land the job puts her back in contact with a high school sweetheart and through him, commences
Warren-Newport Public Library
For more than fifty years, legendary author Herman Wouk has dreamed of writing a novel about the life of Moses. Finally, at age ninety-seven, he has found an ingeniously witty way to tell the tale in The Lawgiver, a romantic and suspenseful epistolary novel about a group of people trying to make a movie about Moses in the present day. The story emerges from letters, memos, e-mails, journals, news articles, recorded talk, Skype transcripts, and text messages.

At the center of The Lawgiver is Margo
Herman Wouk has assured his place in literary history through receiving the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Congress. The author of twelve novels, three plays, and three nonfiction books, including, MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL and THIS IS MY GOD, wrote in 2000 that “There was no greater theme for a novel...than the life of Moses” and had conceived the idea more than 50 years ago when he was writing THE CAINE MUTINY. Now, at age ...more
A writer like Herman Wouk hardly needs the rapturous praise of a nerdy bookworm from Iowa. His brilliance is not in question. But I cannot help but offer my admiration anyway.
I became interested in reading this book when I read the review in the New York Times. Both my Nook and my book shelf were heavy with unread books so I put off buying it. Then glory be to the God I sometimes question, I won a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. This was a mixed blessing because I started looking in the mail every
Zoe Brown
A novel constructed from emails, text messages, recorded phone calls and such written by a 97 year old Pulitzer prize-winning author whose most famous books were published in 1950's and 70's? What are the odds? Long ones, but life is full of surprises. I enjoyed this light romp of a book which is both a romance and a comedic jab at Hollywood and its silliness. Wouk and his beloved late wife play roles in this story as the author imagines being given a chance to approve a film script for a new mo ...more
What a gem. Through a collection of e-mails, notes, letters, faxes and phone calls, the story of producing a movie about Moses is told. Wouk is his own first character, being hounded by a movie mogul who wants to make a movie about Moses and is offering Wouk a very large inducement to simply have a brief conference about it. It quickly becomes apparent that other players are involved, a wealthy Texas businessman, an even wealthier Australian businessman, and a host of characters who run the spec ...more
Sue Eberhardt
Mr. Herman Wouk, bless his busy heart, has given the world a precious look at what graceful aging can produce. So thank you, Goodreads, for a First Reads treat of tremendous significance to a happy reader who, like Mr. Wouk, started out with fountain pens and Underwood typewriters.

The format of this fluffy but not too fluffy story employs emails, faxes, Skypes, voicemails, and all of today’s instantaneous communication devices to tell the story about Mr. Wouk himself and his long-held desire to
Melissa Rochelle
As I mentioned when I started reading this book, the name Herman Wouk didn't mean much to me. Yes, I have a goal to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels, so the title of The Caine Mutiny is familiar to me. But when I look at the list, I see titles not authors. Even The Winds of War rings a bell, but as a movie (maybe on TV?). I read The End of Your Life Book Club and Marjorie Morningstar is mentioned a few times, but again...title, not author, is what stuck with me.

So as you can see, I
Emily Cournoyer
I received this book as part of a giveaway. I was pleasantly surprised by The Lawgiver. The characters were well developed, the story was a little predictable at parts but was perfect for an easy read. I was pleasantly surprised that this as not a hardcore religious book and that the pages actually flew by. I did read this quite a while ago and just found the book again to review it (still learning the features here on goodreads so I apologize for the late review).

I would definitely recommend th
Jak říká sám Wouk, Zákonodárce je lehkovážný román o tom, jak je nemožné napsat román o Mojžíšovi, a myslím, že nikdo by to nevystihl lépe. Nejsem zrovna fanouškem epistolárních příběhů, většinou mě zklamaly (pokud nepočítám Werthera, samozřejmě :)), ale tady to tak nějak funguje. Stránky jsou plné postav a postaviček a chvílemi absurdního děje, nad kterým se budete pousmívat a říkat si, jak on je ten Hollywood pitomej, prostoduchej a jenom navoněné pozlátko. Wouk vám dodá pocit, že vy jste nad ...more
I won this book in a First Reads contest and thank you to Goodreads! The fact that Herman Wouk wrote this book at age 97 makes it worth reading just to believe it! It is a very unique book- took me a while to realize what the story was ACTUALLY about but i loved the clever way it was written with emails, letters, texts, memos, etc. ALso made it a fairly easy read. I loved the way Judaism was woven through the story in such a modern way. I just keep scratching my head that a man of this age could ...more
Eh. Mildly interesting story, told by Herman Wouk (both him and his wife are characters) via emails, letters, faxes, and texts about the making of a feature film about Moses called The Lawgiver. Writer/director, producers, Wouk as a consultant, lawyers and various friends are characters. While curious for the "Entourage" aspect of how a movie gets made, the characters are slim and not fleshed out. The story then veers into a romance novel (told via emails). High note was the sweet tribute on the ...more
It has been years since I've read anything by Herman Wouk, and I was surprised to come across this 2012 novel. While it lacks the weightiness of "The Winds of War," "War and Remembrance," or "Inside, Outside," it is an amusing story that includes Wouk himself as one of the characters. In the midst of trying to write the story of Moses as a novel, he somehow gets involved in an effort to produce a Hollywood film on the same topic. The book is structured as a series of documents and written commun ...more
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Herman Wouk is a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jewish American author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.

Herman Wouk was born in New York City into a Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia. After a childhood and adolescence in the Bronx and a high school diploma from Townsend Harris High School, he earned
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“the DeMille films were foolishness. I was born to do this, and I can do it precisely because I thought the whole religion through when I broke away. It takes someone who knows—not believes—to capture and picture the storytelling truth about Moishe Rabenu in a film.” 0 likes
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