He was a religious Jew among secular peers, a respecter of authority in a field of rebels. He didn't brag like Norman Mailer and was spared the demons driving the madness of Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint." After a Pulitzer early in his career for "The Caine Mutiny," he was mostly ignored by awards committees and was often excluded from anthologies of Jewish literature. Gore Vidal praised him, faintly, by observing that Wouk's "competence is most impressive and his professionalism awe-inspiring in a world of lazy writers and TV-stunned readers."
But Wouk, who died Friday 10 days shy of his 104th birthday, was a success in ways that resonated with critics and readers, and with himself.