Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

I finished reading The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. Published in 1951, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The novel grew out of Wouk's personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II.

I bought The Caine Mutiny as a ebook almost two years ago. At this point, I can't remember why I purchased it. Probably thirty years ago, I read Wouk's The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I am guessing that something in the popular press triggered a connection between Herman Wouk and The Caine Mutiny.

The story is mostly told through the eyes of Willis Seward "Willie" Keith, an affluent, callow young man who signs up for midshipman school with the United States Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army during World War II. It follows Willie through his initial training to his assignment on the destroyer minesweeper USS Caine to the end of World War II. This experience transforms him into a very different person.

The mutiny in the title takes place during Typhoon Cobra. This was an actual tropical cyclone which struck the United States Pacific Fleet in December 1944 during World War II. Three destroyers capsized and sank during the storm. Nine other warships were damaged. Over 100 aircraft were wrecked or washed overboard. A total of 790 lives were lost.

The book was not what I expected. I thought that it was going to focus on the mutiny and resulting trial. The mutiny and the trial are really only part of the story. The story is a sweeping look at one person's experiences during World War II. Once I got into the book, I was hooked. I enjoyed it a great deal! I highly recommend it.

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