Sailor and Fiddler : Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author Hardback
by Herman Wouk
Many years ago, the great British philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin urged Herman Wouk to write his autobiography.
Wouk responded, "Why me? I'm nobody." Berlin answered, "No, no. You've traveled. You've known many people. You have interesting ideas. It would do a lot of good." Now, in the same year he has celebrated his hundredth birthday, Herman Wouk finally reflects on the life experiences that inspired his most beloved novels.
Among those experiences are his days writing for comedian Fred Allen's radio show, one of the most popular shows in the history of the medium; enlisting in the US Navy during World War II; falling in love with Betty Sarah Brown, the woman who would become his wife (and literary agent) for sixty-six years; writing his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Caine Mutiny; as well as a big hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial; and the surprising inspirations and people behind such masterpieces as The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, Marjorie Morningstar, and Youngblood Hawke. Written with the wisdom of a man who has lived through two centuries and the wit of someone who began his career as professional comedy writer, the first part of Wouk's memoir ("Sailor") refers to his Navy experience and writing career, the second ("Fiddler") to what he's learned from living a life of faith.
Ultimately, Sailor and Fiddler is an unprecedented reflection from a vantage point few people have lived to experience.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 160 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication Date: 11/02/2016
- Category: Autobiography: general
- ISBN: 9781501128547
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Review by DavidWineberg
Chutzpah and luckIt takes some nerve to sum up a 100 year life in less than a hundred pages. It reads like fastforwarding a DVD or tape: blurry images and sudden stops to inch forward in detail, followed by another blur. For a public interested in glimpses of the real man and the real story, it works. That’s the chutzpah part.The luck part is his life. Wouk acknowledges it throughout: meeting the right people at the right time, getting boosts when needed, and of course the freedom of financial success. His wife (and agent and muse) lived until he was 96. The Sailor of the title is his time in navy, which led to breakthroughs in publishing after the war. The Fiddler is the Jewish portion of his life, with Israel and Jewish-focused books and all the relationships he built in Israel in the 60s and 70s. He tells us the inspiration or real names of the characters in his books, which he freely admits are taken from his own life. The more experiences he had, the books he could write. Now at 100, he says he has fulfilled all commitments and written all he intends.It is a whirlwind, written breezily. One would expect no less from Herman Wouk.David Wineberg