Herman Wouk was born in 1915 in New York into a Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia. In 1934, he earned an AB from Columbia University. Following his graduation, he worked as a scriptwriter with Fred Allen, and in 1941, he was employed as a writer for the U.S. government, producing radio spots. During World War II, Wouk served in the Navy as an officer in the Pacific aboard two destroyer minesweepers, absorbing the details that would make some of his later novels so realistic.
As a writer, Wouk produced novels, plays, and short fiction. His first novel, Aurora Dawn, a satire involving a young man trying to make it in the advertising industry, was begun during off-duty hours aboard a Navy ship and was published in 1947. Wouk's second novel, City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder (1948), is the comic tale of a boy growing up in the Bronx. It was less successful commercially. In 1951, he published The Caine Mutiny, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. Wouk adapted the novel into a Broadway play, and it was later transformed into an award-winning film starring Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg. Marjorie Morningstar, the story of a young Jewish woman who rebels against her family values, was published in 1955. Youngblood Hawke, a novel whose protagonist is an American novelist, was published in 1961, and Don't Stop the Carnival, the tale of a public relations man who gives up life in New York to become an innkeeper on a tiny Caribbean island, appeared in 1965. The Lomokome Papers (1968), is a work of science fiction focusing on an American astronaut who discovers a brutal civilization living beneath the surface of the moon. The acclaimed The Winds of War (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978), together constitute an epic tale about World War II tracing the Henry family's involvement in the conflict. Wouk's most recent novel, A Hole in Texas, published in 2004, is the story of a NASA scientist embroiled in scandal and romance.
Along with the Pulitzer Prize, Wouk has received numerous other awards, including the Columbia University Medal of Excellence (1952), the Hamilton medal (1980), the Washingtonian award (1986), and the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation award (1987).
Wouk married Betty Sarah Brown in 1943, and the couple had three sons. Unfortunately, Abraham, the couple's first-born, died in a tragic accident.
Wouk currently lives in Palm Springs, California.