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Williwaw Paperback – December 4, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Vidal has crafted a gripping wartime adventure. He masterfully charts the crew's struggle against the harsh, and potentially deadly, Aleutian environment. Equally compelling is the tension and conflict that build among the crew members. As the story develops, Vidal creates vivid portraits of the Aleutian Islands and the sea around them. The story is rich in details of the crew's daily life and routine on board the ship, as well as of their recreation in a seedy port town.
Overall, Vidal's prose style in the book is very clean and matter-of-fact; I found it a very effective mode for this particular story. His portrait of the wartime Army is full of satiric touches that are sometimes subtle, sometimes funny. Ultimately "Williwaw" struck me as having a dark, almost nihilistic vision of the human condition. But it's a darkness that I found thought-provoking, and not repellent. Through his plot and characters Vidal takes such basic concepts as love, religion, heroism, and justice and seems to strip them bare. "Williwaw" is, in my judgment, not only a solid adventure tale, but also a unique and compelling contribution to the canon of American war fiction.
"But young novelists are imitative; they must be for they have not lived long enough to know who they are or - perhaps more to the point - who those others in the world are. I was certainly influenced by Hemingway, as many critics noted.Read more ›
This wild screeching wind storm rips like unsheathed demon nails, screams like a banshee, and causes even barren rock to cower. It is small wonder that very little vegetation survives on the Aleutian chain.
Bored men are stationed, as passengers and crew, of an army-freight passenger ship. This ship is skippered by a warrant officer, who, not having the experience or skill, of a fully authorized Naval Commander, must navigate between the islands during the height of the storm.
We find a touch of moody melancholy bleakness, fear, contrition, and deep shadowed black and white images to capture the imagination of men frozen in suspended moments. The Williwaw screeches all around. It calls to their inner fears, to their souls, much as a harangue from a widow-maker might sound.
Williwaw was published originally in 1946, and Gore Vidal had served as first-mate on just such a ship in the Aleutians. An interesting read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A williwaw is an Aleutian name for a hurricane in the Arctic ocean. This is a good, gripping story of adventure and survival of a ship and its crew caught in the grip of a williwaw... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chris Ruttan
Gore Vidal paints a vivid picture of life aboard a vessel in the harsh Aleutians, and the suspense of the story emerges from the characters. An excellent read.Published 4 months ago by melonmusic
The action and characters in Gore Vidal's first novel takes place on a small Navy vessel in the Aleutian Islands in World War 2. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Marz
Nothing much happened....at best, the story is anticlimactic. Meh. Really disappointed in this Gore Vidal work, there wasn't much tension and after the big storm I really didn't... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jacqueline smith
At the end of World War II, numerous individuals wrote semi-autobiographical novels relating to their service. Some of these writers went on to become iconic authors. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Francis C. Donnelly
This was Gore Vidal's first book, written while serving on an Army ship in Alaska during WWII. I think Vidal was about 19 years old when he wrote it - and the book is amateurish... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John H. Evans
I enjoyed it. The one thing that bugged me is that someone could read this book and come away understanding that it took place in the Aleutians during WWII, and that there was lots... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Aiviq
Gore's first effort. An interesting contrast to Norman Mailer's "Naked and the Dead" to say the least.Published 13 months ago by Robert P. Bell
I read Williwaw mainly for the fact that Gore Vidal was a Warrant Officer on an Army boat during WWII and he wrote the book while he was on watch. Read morePublished on November 3, 2013 by Douglas Workman