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The Caine Mutiny

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  16,054 Ratings  ·  694 Reviews
The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple wit ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 15th 1992 by Back Bay Books (first published 1951)
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Bob H The movie was a fragment of the book. Good performances by Bogart as Queeg, Jose Ferrer as Greenwald the naval attorney, and Fred MacMurray as the…moreThe movie was a fragment of the book. Good performances by Bogart as Queeg, Jose Ferrer as Greenwald the naval attorney, and Fred MacMurray as the weaselly Keefer, but the story is cut short and the ending is too pat. Also, if you mean by "coming of age," Willie's growth through the book, as a man and officer, that's almost completely out. It's OK as cinema if you take it as a separate story.(less)

Community Reviews

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Carol
Excellent! My first Super Favorite of 2017.

THE CAINE MUTINY begins with character development of Willie Keith, his affluent family and worries over the possible consequences of having an immigrant girlfriend as he goes from being a spoiled, immature Princeton grad and amateur pianist to life in the U.S. Navy during WWII.

This brilliant classic work follows Willie aboard ship where we see how the men live, eat and occasionally sleep while performing their duties in an environment filled with daily

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Luffy
Jan 27, 2017 Luffy rated it it was amazing
What sets Herman Wouk apart from his successors is his understanding of both characterization and plotting. He is great at both. The Winds of War books, appearing more than 20 years from The Caine Mutiny, are equally brilliant. The man was a prodigy.

The Caine Mutiny, happens on an old rustbucket of a tow ship called the Caine. Thoughout the book, Wouk teases us, making us hungry for the moment when the crew of the ship blows its collective gasket. It was long in coming, but when it did, the cour
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 16, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
It is conceivable that most unusual and extraordinary circumstances may arise in which the relief from duty of a commanding officer by a subordinate becomes necessary, either by placing him under arrest or on the sick list; but such action shall never be taken without the approval of the Navy Department or other appropriate higher authority, except when reference to such higher authority is undoubtedly impracticable because of the delay involved or for other clearly obvious reason...

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Herman Wouk
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Matt
Feb 14, 2017 Matt rated it it was amazing
“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?...I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know – that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.”
- Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan Jessep, in A Few Good Men

“Se
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Stephanie
A great classic tale at sea set during World War II!

5 shining stars! Herman Wouk won the Pulitzer Prize for this masterpiece in 1952 and it is a wonderful story!

I first read and loved this as a high school sophomore and really enjoyed revisiting it! It was even better the second time around! Don't be intimidated by the military setting as there are so many elements to enjoy about the story even if war or the navy is not your thing.

Why I liked it:

1) Brilliant and well-developed characters
* Will
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Tuco Markham
Apr 23, 2008 Tuco Markham rated it it was amazing
My favorite Pulitzer Prize winning fiction novel. Why?? It is set in World War II and it just tells a story, no deep intellectual meaning, no homosexual subtext, no infidelity, no sex, no profanity for profanity's sake, etc. etc. Just a good story and in the end you don't know who you want to "root" for.
Brad
Sep 11, 2008 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
Top Ten Reasons to Give The Caine Mutiny a Chance

10. Wouk's clear, compelling, Pulitzer Prize winning prose.

9. The boredom of military service, even in wartime, has never been so interesting.

8. The USS Caine DMS feels like home -- no matter who's in command.

7. The ineluctable build of Queeg's collapse.

6. Willie's slow and certain becoming.

5. Keefer's behaviour insuring that no side is "right."

4. The best novelized military trial ever written.

3. The complexity of Wouk's characters, even when the
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Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 10, 2011 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
In many ways this is a difficult book, at least to categorize and/or rate. It was also a difficult read for me at times, by turns absorbing, slightly boring, almost exciting, very infuriating, frustrating and thought provoking.

I suppose most will know at least the outline of the story here as it's not only a novel, but a play and a movie. I'll still try to avoid spoilers here for those who haven't run across it in any form. Let me say that the book doesn't fall easily into one category. It's a
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Natylie Baldwin
Aug 04, 2013 Natylie Baldwin rated it it was amazing
It wasn't until I got about 2/3 of the way through that I realized this was a 5-star book.

The book has its flaws: there is some extraneous material in the first half that could have been cut down, there are a few instances of an awkward secondary character point of view, and there is a generous sprinkling of those pesky adverbs that everyone seems to equate with literary leprosy these days.

But the events immediately preceding the mutiny, the actual mutiny itself and the subsequent court martia
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Jeff Miller
Jun 16, 2013 Jeff Miller rated it it was amazing
Wow just wow.

First time I have read this one, although have seen the movie oh so many times. This review assumes you have seen the movie, if not don't read ahead.

The film version is brilliant and certainly captures some aspects of the book. The film and the book both have the sucker-punch involving involving the speech by the lawyer Greenwald after most of the book deals with the crew and the infamous Captain Queeg.

The novel though has a different narrative through the eyes of "Willie" Keith. An
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booklady
An all time favorite book of mine anyway, The Caine Mutiny holds even more personal significance for me because I saw the play performed in London over twenty years ago when I was still dating my husband. Charlton Heston starred as the enigmatic Queeg and I just learned that this production is written up on Wikipedia. Although sometimes maligned for not being reliable, in this case Bear and I can attest to the reliability of at least that much of the article.*

The Caine Mutiny is a fascinating l
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Sarah Anne
4.5 rounded up this time. I was wondering when I started this how you can possibly get 500+ pages/26+ listening hours out of a mutiny. It seems like that's an event rather than a lengthy story. It turns out that it's not entirely about the mutiny. That's sort of a moment in time where the character's fates intertwine, otherwise it's a story about what it's like to be on a ship in the Navy in war time.

The book starts out with young, naïve, slight spoiled Willie Keith getting drafted into the Army
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Danielle
I put off reviewing this book for way too long because I wanted to do it justice. Now it's been months since I finished it, and so my review will be lacking accordingly. But, I can say without reservation that I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed it immenseley, and it met the three criteria for a 5-star book: It entertained me, it made me think, and it made me feel.
I decided to read this book because it was lodged somewhere in my mind as one of those "books you should read." Also, there is a
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Alondra
Aug 31, 2013 Alondra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone with a pulse
Shelves: books-i-own
5 Stars

I knew this would be a 5-Star read, for me, within the first 50 pages. Something about an author who knows how to tell a story, and not just write one. Feel me??

The story is a masterpiece, pure and simple.

According to the book blurb: "...Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater..."

To me, it really is the story of our main character's brief stint in the Navy, his complicated relationships with his parents an
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Czarny Pies
Nov 04, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Someone looking for a defense of middle-class wasp values
Recommended to Czarny by: Jim Amm, My Track Coach who believed in keeping a cool head in a storm
This novel is the great American classic of the Post War Years describing the trials that an American K must go through in order to "enter the law" or to conform to the expectations of mainstream society. Despite being a devout Jew, Herman Wouk decides to make his hero Joseph K a classic American Wasp. Willis (Willie) Seward Keith must learn to abandon his irresponsible youth, learn how to choose companions wisely, accept responsibility and provide leadership. As Willie spends most of the war se ...more
Lance Carney
Oct 05, 2016 Lance Carney rated it it was amazing
I am a huge Humphrey Bogart fan. The image of Captain Queeg nervously rolling the two steel balls in one hand, the insecurity, the perspiration—it will always be Bogie in my mind. I have watched the movie made from the book many times. So when I stumbled across the book in an antique store in Southport, NC for a reasonable price I didn’t hesitate. Still, it would be two years before I picked it up to read.

The Caine Mutiny follows Willie Keith’s transformation from spoiled rich kid, almost kicked
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Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 Jayne Charles rated it it was amazing
I was in the school library at the age of 14 and about to borrow an Enid Blyton (at the age of 14! The shame of it!!) when my English teacher Mrs Straughan saw me, tut-tutted loudly and gave me this book instead. I was horrified. Some piece of historical fiction about some Americans in the Navy in World War II. So far out of my comfort zone it might as well have been on Mars. 'You'll really enjoy it', Mrs Straughan assured me. And she was right. Not only did I enjoy it the first time, I enjoyed ...more
Jeanmarie
Jan 13, 2014 Jeanmarie rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books in which you, yourself, live for as long as it takes to read the whole book. Wouk's forthright manner is detailed, but not verbose. His sense of humor is subtle and wry. There is a believable balance of the mental and the emotional in the narrative and the story feels complete when the book ends.
Daniel Villines
Nov 28, 2010 Daniel Villines rated it really liked it
Much like the main character of The Caine Mutiny, Willis Keith, I served in the Navy as a reservist on active duty during our first conflict with Iraq and observed (and experienced) many of the eccentric, illogical, and wasteful processes employed by the Navy. As with the crew of the USS Caine, I recall a few endless pre-dawn mornings where we were instructed to move at full speed from one place to the next only to spend the rest of the day waiting for our next set of instructions. I also served ...more
Helen
Mar 14, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting such a very enjoyable read! Vivid characterization, plenty of funny moments, palpable tension, realistic detail (without technobabble)... Also enjoyable was the lack of unnecessary content- no graphic sex, very limited and mild swearing (there's plenty of "he swore," of course, this being a maritime story), no attempt to put a modern "spin" on things. Nor did the author feel it necessary to make his audience miserable by the end of the book, either by using a jaded "life's hel ...more
Marc Gerstein
Oct 15, 2016 Marc Gerstein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
The basics of this story are well known. The Executive Officer of a WWII navy minesweeper (actually an obsolete WWI-era junk-heap of a ship converted for such use for WWII) abetted by the protagonist, another officer on the ship, mutiny (a legalistic mutiny rather than violent one) against Captain Queeg, an irritating petty stupid and arguably cowardly commanding officer. Was it justified under Navy Regulations 184, 185 and 186, which expressly contemplate such setting aside of the chain of comm ...more
Cindy
Mar 01, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story took place during World War II and told the story of the mine sweeper The Caine and its crew. I had to constantly remind myself that the book was fiction. Never once lost interest in the story. Very good book that I would recommend to all.
Paul
May 07, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy
Jan 05, 2015 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Somehow, almost inexplicably, this has become one of my favorite books of all time. That, to me, is a strange honor to bestow upon a book that, on it's face, isn't really about anything. As far as World War II naval adventures go, the Caine saw little meaningful action and the war is merely a minor context to what is, really, not a war novel. Wouk's prose is as a sharp as a knife, and each sentence is a joy to read. His characters are easily identifiable, quintessentially human, and unrepentingl ...more
Nilesh
May 03, 2013 Nilesh rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-fiction
There are many remarkable things about the book, but the best for me is the authors' ability to hide where his true sympathies lie. More than the grandiose court scene and sharp lawyer/witness repartees that permanently shaped the Hollywood, the mostly eventless but still dangerously combating naval life during the wartime, the phenomenally crazy yellow stain/strawberry/shirt tail episodes and powerful characters, the author walks away with glory in twisting the right and wrong of the mutiny in ...more
Bob
Aug 20, 2011 Bob rated it it was amazing
Herman Wouk’s writing is so vividly detailed it’s like turning the pages of a photo album rather than pages of words. Using words Wouk paints us a picture of an island battle. Where you can hear the sounds of battle and see men fighting and dying. While a short distance away war ships are at anchor, sailors are swimming, and officers are in the ward room eating steak and ice cream. Wouk keeps this level of detail and description going page after page from the beginning to the end.

This book right
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Krisette Spangler
Nov 02, 2015 Krisette Spangler rated it really liked it
This was one of the most fascinating coming of age stories I've ever read. Willie Keith joins the Navy, before he can be drafted into the army during WWII. He is assigned to a mine sweeper called the Caine. Captain Queeg seems like a great captain at first, but the crew starts to suspect he might be mentally ill. Should the crew seize the ship and risk hanging for mutiny? I loved it.

The only problem with the book is the language. The language for half of the book is completely clean, but while t
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Anna Gabur
Jun 23, 2014 Anna Gabur rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
One more book on my favorites list. I don't even know what review can do it justice, because this brilliant novel has everything: character, suspense, love, action, philosophy. It really put many things into perspective for me. The stunning mastery of prose and character development deserve all the praise. The Caine Mutiny is not exactly a war novel. It is a comming of age story with all the good implications. Absolutely gorgeous!
Leslie
Sep 01, 2016 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book that I first encountered as a movie. Because of that, I was surprised by the first section of the novel about Willie Keith before he joined The Caine. And the book continues on long past the movie too!

Keith's relationship with May Wynn has a lot more depth in the book, though I came close to (view spoiler). In fact, all the characters had more nuances to them except for Steve Maryk.
Sonny
Dec 02, 2008 Sonny rated it really liked it
This book surprised me! I was not expecting anything from it, and have heard about it for years on end, but Wouk's description of the petty tyrant, the good soul, the sympathetic commander are all classic themes and thrown in with a twist. This is not so much a war novel as it is a tale of humor and human breakdowns. I have never seen the movie, but as I understand it is a classic, I now am inclined to do so.
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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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“This life is slow suicide, unless you read.” 36 likes
“Remember this, if you can--there is nothing, nothing more precious than time. You probably feel you have a measureless supply of it, but you haven't. Wasted hours destroy your life just as surely at the beginning as at the end--only in the end it becomes more obvious.” 15 likes
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