Jews, called by many the “People of the Book,” have left a distinguished mark on the literary world. In the field of American literature, few Jewish authors have been as prolific, and successful, as Herman Wouk (b. May 27, 1915)–who released his latest book last month (The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion).

Wouk was one of the first of the post-World War II generation of Jewish writers (including Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller). Unlike many of their predecessors, these Jewish writers were born and raised in America. Like their predecessors, their Jewish heritage had a significant influence on their writing.

Born in New York City, Herman Wouk wrote his first novel, Aurora Dawn (published 1947), while serving in the US Navy in the Pacific. He went on to write such well-known works as The Caine Mutiny (1952-for which he won a Pulitzer Prize), The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Wouk has written novels with distinctive Jewish overtones and characters (Marjorie Morningstar, Inside/Outside), military novels (The Caine Mutiny), and novels with a wide range of characters (Don’t Stop the Carnival). In 2008, Wouk was the first recipient of the Library of Congress Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction.

In addition to his novels, Wouk made a unique contribution to American Jewish life with This Is My God, a non-fiction work describing the world of traditional Judaism and explaining why he chose to live a traditional lifestyle. His later books, The Will To Live On and The Language God Talks, continue this theme.

Today, Jewish Treats wishes Herman Wouk a happy 95th birthday.

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