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Herman Wouk and Bill Safire at the Library of Congress dinner honoring Wouk with a lifetime achievement award.

Writerly achievement, Navy memorials, and daring to dream

By Donna Shor

Herman Wouk and Bill Safire at the Library of Congress dinner honoring Wouk with a lifetime achievement award.

Herman Wouk and Bill Safire at the Library of Congress dinner honoring Wouk with a lifetime achievement award.

Wouk and Remembrance
With wit and whimsy, (shadowed by sorrow), and a stellar cast of readers of passages from his best-known works, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk received the Library of Congress’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Fiction. ABC’s Martha Raddatz read the ominous trip to Auschwitz scene from War and Remembrance. The New York Times’ William Safire amused with an excerpt from Inside Outside. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved that had she not chosen law, she could have been an actress with a dramatic reading from The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (inspired by Wouk’s WWII service on a destroyer). The former Fred Allen gag writer went on to chronicle wars and the Holocaust in his novels, often researching them at the Library. (As a one-time next-door neighbor, I saw all the complex maps and charts Wouk put up on his wall, and the meticulous logs attesting to his underlying scholarship.) Seen at the dinner hosted by Librarian of Congress James Billington: Wouk’s wife Sarah, editor Jean Young, Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor, Ina Ginsburg, Esther Coopersmith (who learned that the Wouks once rented her Kalorama home) and Jim Kimsey. Barefoot, ebullient Jimmy Buffet played Margaritaville-style songs from a Caribbean musical based on the honoree’s Don’t Stop The Carnival and said: “Just to work with Herman Wouk was an education in itself.”

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Bill Safire

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