Herman Wouk, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Navy drama "The Caine Mutiny" whose sweeping novels about World War II, the Holocaust and the creation of Israel made him one of the most popular writers of his generation and helped revitalize the genre of historical fiction, died May 17 at his home in Palm Springs, California. He was 103.
His literary agent, Amy Rennert, confirmed the death to The Associated Press but did not provide a cause.
Wouk (his last name is pronounced "Woke") penned a dozen novels, a handful of plays and several nonfiction books over the course of his nearly 60-year career. A meticulous researcher, he specialized in stories of personal conflict set against the backdrop of compelling historical events, including "The Caine Mutiny" (1951), "The Winds of War" (1971) and "War and Remembrance" (1978). The latter two became an ABC miniseries in the 1980s starring Robert Mitchum that averaged tens of millions of viewers over the course of its broadcast and became the highest-rated miniseries after Alex Haley's "Roots."
In a form that the author would echo in other novels, "The Winds of War" and its sequel, "War and Remembrance," trace World War II through the experiences of one family. "The Winds of War" follows Navy officer Victor "Pug" Henry and his relatives from the German invasion of Poland to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, where its sequel begins and then proceeds to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
The pair of books established Wouk's legacy as a master of historical fiction, in which he blended the narrative power of fiction with great understanding and empathy for the human motivations behind wars and other historical events. The Economist magazine called "The Winds of War" "as serious a contribution to the literature of our time as 'War and Peace' was to that of the nineteenth century."