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The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  17,406 Ratings  ·  778 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 with ...more
ebook, 560 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1951)
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Damon Henrichs As with most movies, the book is better. That said, once you watch the movie you can't help but picture EVERY actor in their role. The casting of the…moreAs with most movies, the book is better. That said, once you watch the movie you can't help but picture EVERY actor in their role. The casting of the movie was perfect and every performance is outstanding . . . especially Bogart.

I'd wait 6 months or a year then watch the movie. Watching it right after reading it will undoubtedly be disappointing. Watching after a little time will be highly enjoyable though. (less)
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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

...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Wo
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Luffy
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Matt
“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
...more
Tuco Markham
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
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
...more
Natylie Baldwin
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dennis
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite read so far this year. Its got everything . Sea story, war story, love story and court room drama. The movie leaves out so much. This is one of the great novels to come out of world war 2 and a worthy winner of the Pulitzer Prize. I could kick myself for not reading this sooner in my life.
Jeff Miller
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sarah Anne
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
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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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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Jan Rice
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few days ago Trump's behavior led me to start thinking about The Caine Mutiny, instead, say, of 1984 and other dystopian novels (or Mein Kampf). My thoughts turned in that direction beginning with the tweet-storm against his attorney general, his early supporter. I read the book as a teenager. I remember the suspense and being pulled along by the plot. Tonight I watched the movie. That's a short-cut. The movie doesn't have a tenth of all the detail, but reading some friends' reviews helped. Tr ...more
Kurt
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
One hallmark of a great author, in my opinion, is the ability to realistically depict a character who is mentally unstable. From my limited reading, the best example I remember is the schizophrenic neighbor in Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road. Anyone who has not read that book should -- if for no other reason than to marvel at the author's skill.

Author Herman Wouk also makes a spectacular show of the same skill in his depiction of the disturbed Philip Queeg, Captain of the U.S.S. Caine, in his
...more
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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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Long before Jack Nicholson hurled the words, "You Can't Handle The Truth!" at Tom Cruise in
A Few Good Men, there was Herman Wouk's 1952 Pulitzer Prize Winning Caine Mutiny. Wouk also wrote the Broadway Play of The Caine Mutiny.

Article 184

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
...more
Daniel Villines
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Czarny Pies
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bob
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
...more
Josh
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book! I came to The Caine Mutiny through my love of seafaring tales and having read Herman Wouk's Don't Stop the Carnival (one of my favorite titles) a long time ago. The mutiny is exciting. More surprising is how long we spend on the build up to that plot, daily life aboard the ship, and how compelling it is.

Our protagonist, Willie Keith, is a WASP, and his girlfriend, May, is an Italian American Catholic. Can they bridge that gap? What is Willie to do about his mother's voice in h
...more
Lance Carney
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Alondra
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with a pulse
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
...more
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Taija
1952 Pulitzer Prize Winner.

1001 stars! Oh my word, this book! No matter what I say, I will not give this book, nor the author the due credit they deserve!

This is why I began my Pulitzer Prize reading challenge - to read books that impact me on every conceivable level, in a good way! Last night, after I finished reading the chapter titled 'The Mutiny,' I closed my book, rolled over, and began to pray out of anguish. FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT REAL!!!!!!!! And today, today! I was so nervous reading t
...more
Christopher Saunders
It's strange, yet not strange that Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny won a Pulitzer Prize; the Pulitzers went through a long phase where they awarded well-written middlebrow war novels (Andersonville, The Killer Angels, etc.) that are by no means great literature. Which is an apt summary of Wouk's account of service aboard a WWII minesweeper under an unstable captain, the memetic Captain Queeg. Unlike Wouk's more ponderous later work, it's well-plotted (barring Lt. Keith's romantic escapades), with ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
This classic was an enjoyable read for me. The language and attitudes betrays the time the novel was originally written (1951, with old-fashioned jargon, anti-Semitism etc.) but the story is surprisingly good with excellent analysis of its many characters.

Fav. Quote:

You can’t understand command till you’ve had it. It’s the loneliest, most oppressive job in the whole world. It’s a nightmare, unless you’re an ox. You’re forever teetering along a tiny path of correct decisions and good luck that me
...more
Helen
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andy
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is much more than the movie. This is a brilliant satire about war, bureaucracy, the American Dream, etc. There is wisdom about living a full life, honor, courage, love, teamwork, etc. The prose felt very fresh and readable. At first, I didn't understand what all the background about the new officers was for, but it makes sense at the end.

Favorite quote: “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you are not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you ca
...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
...more
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“This life is slow suicide, unless you read.” 43 likes
“The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you are not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes. Learn to quash them. Constantly ask yourself, "How would I do this if I were a fool?" Throttle down your mind to a crawl. Then you will never go wrong.” 15 likes
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