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The Lawgiver

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,099 ratings  ·  301 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, 234 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Simon Schuster (first published October 2012)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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 ·  1,099 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
MJ Nicholls
Jul 12, 2013 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."
Susan Tunis
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 are
Nov 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

Read by Peter Riegert,

(view spoiler)
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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
Nancy McKibben
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Rick F.
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent and highly originally written book by the 97..yes 97 year old icon!!!
Skylar Burris
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism, romance
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
Quinby6696 Frank
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Marcie Lovett
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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!
Stephen Terrell
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The Lawgiver was the final novel in Herman Wouk's long literary career, which ended with his death only a few months ago at age 103.

Written by Wouk when he was in his mid-90s, the book is most notable for its form and the lesson it has for all of us. The novel is not in narrative form. Rather, it is told through memos, emails, text messages, faxes, personal letters, telephone call transcripts, meeting notes, and the like. This shows the willingness of Wouk to adapt, to experiment, to challenge
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Three stars does not mean I disliked Herman Wouk’s The Lawgiver, it means it was OK. Maybe a little better than, just not much. What I liked most was the use of E mails, hand written notes and aid memoirs to carry the story. This can be a gimmick but Wouk uses it to place the story up front and minimizes distractions like place descriptors and character backgrounds. The text is 234 pages in hard back, but the amount of blank space means it is almost twice as fast to read. Wouk casts himself as a ...more
Yvann S
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Cam Mannino
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Melissa Rochelle
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012, epistolary
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
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sue Eberhardt
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
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
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Geoff Loftus
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wouk is the master. I absolutely loved The Caine Mutiny, Marjorie Morningstar, Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Now, The Lawgiver a short, funny, insightful, sexy, and romantic book about. . . Moses! Okay, it's really a book about trying to write a book about Moses and then instead overseeing a screenplay for a movie called The Lawgiver. At age 97, Herman Wouk is still going strong. Can't wait for his next one.
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Herman Wouk was 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 earne

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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.” 2 likes
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