5 stars - loved it, have read it many times
1952 Pulitzer Prize
Thank you, Mom and Dad for exposing me to such a vast library of books, both good and bad, without any censorship. I first selected The Caine Mutiny from the bookshelf of their extensive library when I was a teenager. I was skeptical at first, not given to reading war books. I soon changed my mind (and have since enjoyed this book several times over).
What is the book about? Well, here's the synopsis:
"The novel grew out of Wouk's personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II and deals with, among other things, the moral and ethical decisions made at sea by captains of ships."
As I continued to watch the acts of aggression our troops are involved in around the world, I was reminded of how the folks at home have no business second guessing what is done in the heat of battle or under extreme circumstances.
Not only a well written story, The Caine Mutiny is a signficant reminder that serving in the military is not an experience that can ever be truly understood by those of us sitting back home in our comfy chairs watching the news.
Once again, I am wishing that this were on the reading list for high school students. The writing style is not too difficult for a reasonably literate individual and the moral issues raised are especially relevant during these times when so many young people are fighting battles overseas.
The book also touches on how maleable one can be when one's education has been neglected. Pity the hapless Lt. Maryk, who, lacking an education himself, is seduced by the dangerous pontification of his college graduate peers. Even without the benefit of college, it is certainly incumbant on individuals to be as informed as possible and to consider opinions which contradict their own and not hold any other person (regardless of their position or eductation) as all knowing.
How did I get off on that tangent? Just read the book.
Can't bring yourself to read the book? The movie is worth a watch. Yeah, it suffers from the bouncy and omnipresent musical accompniament so popular in older movies, but try to get past that. Like the book, it gets off to a rather slow start, but the action quickly picks up.
Humphrey Bogart. Oh my. Watching him crumble under pressure, watching him testify during the trial, totally worth it. And how about Fred MacMurray as the deliciously duplicitous and creepy Lt. Keefer?
The movie is quite true to the book as well. Get over the sugar coating of Willie's attitude towards May (in the book he decides she is a tramp after she agreed to have sex with him) and just enjoy watching things on board the Caine.
As in the book, the movie captures painfully well how situations, described at a distance, can lose their venom and urgency.