How to read Herman Wouk

Yesterday CBS News profiled author Herman Wouk at the ripe old age of 102. The cluelessness of the CBS correspondent made the interview uncomfortable viewing, but it reminded me that I had meant to draw attention to the essay by Williams College Professor Michael Lewis about Wouk. This Michael Lewis, I should add, is Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History at Williams College, not the popular journalist and author.

Published in early 2013 when Wouk was a spry 97, Professor Lewis’s Commentary essay about Wouk is now more than four years old. I meant to get to it at the time and simply forgot. The essay is something of a tour de force. There are many interesting aspects to it, including the effort to rectify Commentary’s treatment — mistreatment, as Lewis argues — of Wouk in the course of his incredibly long career, but that is really the least of it. Professor Lewis’s essay is “How this magazine wronged Herman Wouk.”

Wouk is the author, of course, of The Caine Mutiny as well as popular multivolume historical novels and many other works of fiction and nonfiction. He is the author, most recently, of Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author.

If you’ve ever read Wouk, I think you will enjoy this essay. If you’ve never read Wouk, I think you will want to after reading it.


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