Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"The Caine Mutiny" Herman Wouk

The last book I read was "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk, who as I write this, is still alive at a sizzling 104 years of age!

This  book came into my orbit from my mother's lending library near Pittsburgh, and will eventually find another owner via a lending library in northern Pennsylvania, but before it goes on its way, I'll share a few thoughts about the wisdom found in that 1951 classic about duty on board a WWII era minesweeper.

Its a thought provoking story in that you will see events unfold from the eyes of an officer under command of a odd fellow named Caption Queeg.   Queeg twirled marbles in his palms and had an observable penchant for avoiding danger.   Willie Keith, of course, has his own problems,  and so do a limited cast of officers on the ship and all these quirks of personalities unknowingly influence events on a dark and stormy night when the mutiny took place.

Its at the trail of the mutinous heroes where events as you've read them are cast in another light, and its the events after the trail that really drive home the notion that sometimes people have to be considered in light of their responsibilities, and that in a hierarchy, or structure where lives are at stakes it is critically important to trust the leader, even when it seems he doesn't want to face his duties, because maybe he is?

None of this should be construed as an endorsement to back a nutty President, by the way.

For me, a WWII history nerd, I really enjoyed the setting -- on board a WWII minesweeper in the great Pacific from  San Francisco to Pearl Harbor to coastal Japan with a number of atolls along the way.  New York City in the 1940's plays a considerable role as well as the U.S. Navy and its culture, from enlisting to mothballs.

This book is so classic, it also was a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and there was a run on Broadway too.  The movie was nominated for 7 Oscars and was the 2 highest grossing film in the year it was released.

A good book whose author  wrote quite a few, including 2 more that have more of a reputation than this one --  "War and Remembrance" and "Winds of War"


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