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Inside, Outside

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  966 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
From the world of faith to the world of show business, the theater of war to the theater of presidential politics, a novel traces one Jewish family's dramatic, often hilarious adventures on the way to the American dream. Reprint. NYT.
Paperback, 656 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Back Bay Books (first published 1985)
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Sonia Gomes
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
The story of a deeply religious Jewish boy....there is joy and laughter, sorrow and pain. Dozens of relatives some good and some bad, funny quirky relatives, money grabbing relatives, deeply religious uncles, gossiping aunts, grandmothers who cook wonderful food, mothers who show off their kids. Girls, when can we kiss them? Do we marry a Gentile?
We have it all with slight variations......
Only Wouk makes it all so wonderful!
Stephen Gallup
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read and admired another Wouk title a couple years ago. He was brought to mind again by an article on the recent passing of Gore Vidal. Specifically, that article questions the assumption (held by certain gatekeepers, I suppose) that "the great postwar novelists" were Vidal, Mailer, and Capote. Herman Wouk is of the same generation, and the article says his fiction easily surpasses theirs (as does the work of a completely forgotten writer named Ross Lockridge, who's now in my reading queue). ( ...more
M
Feb 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Thanks, Khay for pointing out such an eggregious error! As I was reading this for the fourth time last week I was thinking, if only I could give more than five stars - it didn't even occur to me I gave LESS!
This book is a masterpiece and I learn something new every time. It is in the most superficial yet not least enjoyable way a memoir, but one packed with charm, wit and insight. The underscoring conflict is one I love, which is that of being a Jewish American/American Jew and all its complexit
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Dana
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite or second-favorite novel. Even though I didn't grow up in the '30s, I feel like I know, or want to know every itsy-bitsy corner of Israel David Goodkind's life. I want to see his Bronx, his Washington, DC during the Nixon administration, HIS meetings with Golda Meir, his gagwriting sessions for radio, his learning Talmud with his grandfather.

I feel like I know these people, like I grew up with some of them, would have LOVED to have met others, and ran as far as I could from s
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Gary Smith
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'd agree that the narrative has a disjointed "frame," perhaps the result of Wouk's trying to wrap it into the then present day, but this is the Wouk book I'm most drawn to re-reading. Perhaps because of a fundamentalist Christian upbringing (ironic but true), I can relate to the MC's pull between love for his family and desire to escape some of the confines of his religion (even as he holds on to his faith).

That alone is worth the read, but the chapter on his grandmother making sauerkraut in th
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Christopher
Apr 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, history, crap
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar Preston
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been on a Herman Wouk kick lately. Just finished Winds of War and have The Hope to look forward to.

My, he's a stylist.I love the way the story of his immigrant family is embedded in the dying days of the Nixon administration. He can just dash off a line or two of characterization like the IRS examiner: " a weasly fellow with a ferret face."

My own family seems so dull not growing up along with the Goodkinds. But they would probably have driven me crazy.
Elaine
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elaine by: My cousin, Ann Marie
My cousin suggested I read this book, and I'm so glad she did. It gave me a lot of insight into what it means to be Jewish. It's just a good book with a lot of laughs...it can get a bit R-rated in places, so if that's a problem, skip over those parts. Maybe because I"m a child of the 60s, I really loved it. I know that for many of today's kids, they don't get a lot of it. All I know is that I really enjoyed it.
Kitty
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an epic novel of David Goodkind's story. David is born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New YOrk. This is the story of his lives both "inside" the Jewish community and "outside". A story both of family and a great love "outside". Quite detailed as Wouk is wont to be. Not as good as Winds of War, etc., but interesting.
Jim
Oct 22, 2010 added it
While Wouk's style and storytelling is intriguing, this novel did not hold together for me. The book seems more a series of anecdotes rather than a novel that is moving in a clear direction. The anecdotes are interesting, especial those dealing with the Jewish community in Minsk. Wouk’s storytelling seems better suited to stories that demand a larger view such as his series on World War II.
Lydia Lewis
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very interesting look at a young jewish man and the life he lives inside and outside of his faith. It was very, very long though.
Blake
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read it years ago and plan to read it again soon.
Erin Humbert
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Insightful, interesting and culturally accurate, set in a time seldom learned about.
Becky
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. Such a vivid picture of Jewish immigrant life in New York during the early 1900's. I really loved it.
Tim Ganotis
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was wonderful. A deeply personal novel that left me constantly wondering how much of it was fiction, and how much was autobiographical. The story, set in three parts, is a great talent of a Jewish boy's family history, adolescense, and young adulthood, while occasionally flashing forward to the present day, set in the early 1970s in Nixon's White House and the Yom Kippur War.

The author's book subjects remain highly varied with this Jewish-centric memoir, contrasted with earlier WWII b
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Jc
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is written as the tale of a Jewish immigrant, recently appointed to the Nixon administration. He describes the inside world of Russian Jews, confronted to the outside world of goys. It is well written and with a lot of humour. But after a while the Jewish folksy atmosphere becomes tiring.

Susan
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the Jewish cultural moments. Wouk's gagwriting years became a bit long and tedious. Reading the tales of the people who came in and out of Wouk's life was interesting especially that Bobbie Webb. I like the author but I fell in love with his father. How I would have liked to meet him. I definitely plan to read a book written by Herman Wouk, now just to decide which one.
Walter
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have always been a big fan of Herman Wouk, so when I came across this novel, I had to read it. It is a fantastic account of a young Jewish man growing up in 1920s Brooklyn, and then attending college and beginning his career in Radio in 1930s Manhattan. This is a semi-autobiographical novel of Wouk's life, although with some obvious differences. The scenes of growing up in New York are juxtaposed with the main character's later life in the White House of the 1970s, working under an un-named pr ...more
Pamela
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Yes, I know. Only two stars for a Wouk book has to be some kind of sacrilege, but there are several reasons for this:

1. The book was boring. The most interesting parts were those in the past, but even those were too much of the same old over and over and over again. Yeah, I get it. David's mother was strong. His father was insightful and kind. His sister was--well, what was she? There's not much at all about her. And David, he was wise beyond his years (and a total ass).

2. The main character, Da
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Brian
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dads-picks
As with most things in life, books can be broken down into three categories: crap, the real deal, and everything in between. This book is the real deal, but it's probably not going to be everybody's cup of tea. It's very much the story of a guy and his relation to his religion (he's Jewish) and how that relates to his family.

The format of the novel is somewhat unconventional in that it consists of two time lines: a contemporary timeline, in which our narrator is an adult in the early 1970's, an
...more
Stan Hayes
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
With Inside, Outside, Herman Wouk (still percolating at 97) affords the reader multifaceted insights into the life of Israel David Goodkind, his family, his friends and his enemies in early/mid-century New York City. Written primarily from the point of view of a functionary in the Nixon White House, it proceeds, in satisfying detail, to illustrate the ups and downs of living within his Jewish extended family (the "inside") and the secular world ("the outside"). His parents devout Jews, his grand ...more
Carol
Slightly paraphrasing: "Sense of humor, God's comfort to mankind for the tragic human predicament." A novel so rich in Jewish traditions, strengths and weaknesses, life's events on scales large and small. Told in bursts, certainly not in chronological order, the reader is invited into the hearts and minds of this particular Jewish tribe and their cohorts. These individual bursts of revelations, simple through grandiose, create amazing synergy, the creation of a whole that is greater than the sim ...more
Gail
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Not only does it tell a great story, many of the incidents described were similar to things my dad had told me of his youth. Although the narrator of the book is a Jewish boy and my dad was Catholic, the similarity of the times and the city was somehow comforting to me and made my dad seem to be more, er, real, if that's understandable at all. The book inspired me to do a bit of oral history with Dad, which the whole family enjoyed. And Wouk is a great story teller.
Arielle Katz
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I started reading Wouk with Marjorie Morningstar several years ago, which has become my favorite book, and finally picked up this book. The detail with which the author tells this story is unbelievable. Although a slow read, I always wants to keep going. There were parts where I laughed, cried or was just so captivated that I have now become a forever fan of Herman Wouk. If you aren't Jewish or aren't familiar with Judaism, there may be parts you don't understand, but overall this books was amaz ...more
Susan
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This was one of my mom's books that has sat on my shelf for decades. I'm glad I ran out of things to read and gave it a chance. It was written during Nixon's administration so it is not exactly "current" but somethings are timeless and it sure was an interesting time in history. The title stands for the names a Jew has, the Inside name (amongst their family and synogogue) and the Outside name (one the world knows them by). It was a great story of what one man's inside and outside lives where lik ...more
Renny
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read several of Herman Wouk's books. Each one has touched where life shines brightest inside. This one is no exception. The words pull one into the world of a yesterday that helped build our present reality with a time immersion through the eyes of a culture at once mine, yet not, about moments I have lived through, yet not... All this via parallel historical perspectives and subcultural human experiences manifesting those multiple universal dilemmas common to each one of us... A really g ...more
Laura
This book reminded me a lot of a male, Jewish version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (one of my favorites). I loved this book as well, but unlike ATGiB, it's not something I can see myself picking up over and over again, just to read a particularly moving scene. It did, however, make me laugh out loud in parts, made me think, and, unlike ATGiB, I recognized and enjoyed the cultural references. The chapters are short, which (for me) made the book feel a lot quicker and faster-paced than its length s ...more
Jim
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
In what appears to be a semi-autobiographical narrative of a young man from a very religious and traditional Jewish family growing up in Depression-era New York, Wouk gives us a taste of his humor, his love of history, and his devotion to his faith and produces a very enjoyable and interesting novel. There are some memorable characters, some very funny scenes, and a real sense of what life must have been like in those times. Highly recommended!
Ruth Jalfon
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
wonderfully written book about jewish immigrants from eastern europe coming to the promised golden land of the USA. All about how jews live in the diaspora on the 'outside' while keeping or drifting from the 'inside' faith and traditions. Fantastic characters, humorous, and something every practicing Jew in the diaspora can understand and identify with. Some laugh out loud moments when some joke particular hits home and reminds me of my own family.
Greg
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Greg by: Cliff Boro
Being born in the early 80s, I was wondering what I was doing reading this book about a very different generation. I was pleasantly surprised. On one hand the book brought some nostalgia for some of the stories I heard about my own father and his brothers growing up in Queens. On the other hand, I found a lot to relate to myself in the story about family, religion, relationships and business.
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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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