Read Inside, Outside by Herman Wouk Online


From the world of faith to the world of show business, the theater of war to the theater of presidential politics, a novel traces one Jewish family's dramatic, often hilarious adventures on the way to the American dream. Reprint. NYT. ...

Title : Inside, Outside
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316955294
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 656 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Inside, Outside Reviews

  • Sonia Gomes
    2019-02-15 17:51

    The story of a deeply religious Jewish boy....there is joy and laughter, sorrow and pain. Dozens of relatives some good and some bad, funny quirky relatives, money grabbing relatives, deeply religious uncles, gossiping aunts, grandmothers who cook wonderful food, mothers who show off their kids. Girls, when can we kiss them? Do we marry a Gentile?We have it all with slight variations......Only Wouk makes it all so wonderful!

  • Stephen Gallup
    2019-02-10 20:51

    I read and admired another Wouk title a couple years ago. He was brought to mind again by an article on the recent passing of Gore Vidal. Specifically, that article questions the assumption (held by certain gatekeepers, I suppose) that "the great postwar novelists" were Vidal, Mailer, and Capote. Herman Wouk is of the same generation, and the article says his fiction easily surpasses theirs (as does the work of a completely forgotten writer named Ross Lockridge, who's now in my reading queue). (I nurture a sense of irritation with unjustified recognition for some works occurring at the expense of others.) Anyway, in this story, I. David Goodkind is a Jewish scholar hired by the Nixon White House to write first drafts of speeches and to facilitate interaction with a new Israeli ambassador. His job is not demanding, and he ends up spending his free time writing a chatty family history. The description of his family's origins in Russia and his own early years in New York has a deceptively spontaneous feel, with frequent interruptions in the narrative for insertion of background info (e.g., "A reader here and there may not know the old deerfly chestnut, and it's vital to my story, so here is a quick run-through..."). Nevertheless, it's as good a coming-of-age novel as we're likely to find, with a depth of texture and detail that makes it feel a lot more like personal history than fiction. He comments at one point that he's providing a "stereoscopic view" of his youth -- "one eye that of a boy, the other that of a chilly old tax lawyer, with little in common but the name." That dynamic is basic to memoir.The book's title has to do with the discontinuity between family/cultural traditions and the intrusive outside world of Shaygets (i.e., heathens) -- a world in which even many Jews no longer bother to eat kosher or observe the Sabbath. Goodkind discusses many of the restrictions that are put on the line when he interacts with that world (not writing on Shavuos, for example -- a problem when Shavuos coincides with his college exams). There's a significant period in his life when he "misbehaves," as a friend puts it, but for him, soul-searching about his identity leads to a reaffirmation of the Inside world. (His first initial stands for Israel, a name that causes him so much trouble while he's growing up that he feels defensive about it. So the story's conclusion is rather moving:And what do they call you, Israel or David?" Slight pause. Then Pop's Yisroelke, enjoying a wry Yankee joke she may not get, smiles back. "Call me Israel."In that respect, this reminds me very much of another significant novel written at about the same time, Angle of Repose.Despite his bestseller status, Herman Wouk may indeed be underrated. I intend to read the rest of his works.

  • M
    2019-02-08 21:38

    Thanks, Khay for pointing out such an eggregious error! As I was reading this for the fourth time last week I was thinking, if only I could give more than five stars - it didn't even occur to me I gave LESS!This book is a masterpiece and I learn something new every time. It is in the most superficial yet not least enjoyable way a memoir, but one packed with charm, wit and insight. The underscoring conflict is one I love, which is that of being a Jewish American/American Jew and all its complexitites. In this way, Wouk traces generations of people chasing an American dream and confusing tradition in the process, and Wouk's own American dream is encapsulated by the aptly named Bobbie Webb who entraps him with her beauty and 'otherness' while also representing something he can never truly have. After all, you can leave the kosher rules aside, but the identity of a Jew is called itno question much more sharply when it means walking away entirely from your heritage.I/O is most charming to me in some ways because of how Wouk cherishes his memories. In this way he simply assumes you will find them as compelling and fascinating as he does, and in turn, you do. His characters are so well drawn, his conflicts so real and human, his foibles so forgiveable. His mother epitomizes everything about a Jewish mother but in so much more of an appealing way than his friend the thinly (read- hardly) disguised Philip Roth could ever do. There is no anger or real mockery here, simply a retelling of cherished events and reflecting on how he got to where he got to, how each piece ultimately mattered.It is a beautiful, beautiful beautiful book.I would add that Wouk's portrayal of Bobbie;s and his obsessive love versus the woman he ends up with whom we hardly hear about raises such an interesting question that I battle every time I read it, and has been raised in Wuthering Heights along with who knowsd how many other classics - does obsessive love imply healthy/effective love, is it always a sign that it's 'right' if you can't let someone go, how do you resolve those sorts of love - the one you marry versus the ones you felt you couldn't escape from, what does each mean, how does each compare with the other, does Jan feel she can never measure up or does she realize that in being the one he married that she is truly the better fit, and pple can love a lot of pple without it actually meaning anything?>

  • Dana
    2019-02-18 15:52

    This is my favorite or second-favorite novel. Even though I didn't grow up in the '30s, I feel like I know, or want to know every itsy-bitsy corner of Israel David Goodkind's life. I want to see his Bronx, his Washington, DC during the Nixon administration, HIS meetings with Golda Meir, his gagwriting sessions for radio, his learning Talmud with his grandfather.I feel like I know these people, like I grew up with some of them, would have LOVED to have met others, and ran as far as I could from some others.If you have any connection to Orthodox Judaism in New York, there's a good chance you'll love this novel.I love the women in this book too. He doesn't go into too much detail about some of them, but that just makes me want to get to know Sandra and Jan more.I don't want to spoil it for you. BUY THIS BOOK.

  • Gary Smith
    2019-02-17 16:47

    I'd agree that the narrative has a disjointed "frame," perhaps the result of Wouk's trying to wrap it into the then present day, but this is the Wouk book I'm most drawn to re-reading. Perhaps because of a fundamentalist Christian upbringing (ironic but true), I can relate to the MC's pull between love for his family and desire to escape some of the confines of his religion (even as he holds on to his faith).That alone is worth the read, but the chapter on his grandmother making sauerkraut in the new apartment is something on par with Thurber. :-)

  • Christopher
    2019-02-04 18:57

    Believe you me, I am far from anti-Semetic, but am I the only person out there who's sick to death of the whole poor sad Jewish story, etc.... ?There have been plenty of other cultures and races that have been persecuted to near extinction (and some that have been completely annihilated from history). What makes the Jews think they were the only ones to have it bad, and to continuously write novel after novel about it?This book, unlike other relevant works by Herman Wouk, had bored me to tears by the time I reached the second chapter. I personally found it pedantic, plodding and dull. Chances are it is a great read, if you're into this type of book. It just wasn't for me.

  • Mar Preston
    2019-02-07 15:07

    I've been on a Herman Wouk kick lately. Just finished Winds of War and have The Hope to look forward to. My, he's a stylist.I love the way the story of his immigrant family is embedded in the dying days of the Nixon administration. He can just dash off a line or two of characterization like the IRS examiner: " a weasly fellow with a ferret face." My own family seems so dull not growing up along with the Goodkinds. But they would probably have driven me crazy.

  • Elaine
    2019-01-30 15:58

    My cousin suggested I read this book, and I'm so glad she did. It gave me a lot of insight into what it means to be Jewish. It's just a good book with a lot of can get a bit R-rated in places, so if that's a problem, skip over those parts. Maybe because I"m a child of the 60s, I really loved it. I know that for many of today's kids, they don't get a lot of it. All I know is that I really enjoyed it.

  • Kitty
    2019-01-30 18:03

    This is an epic novel of David Goodkind's story. David is born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New YOrk. This is the story of his lives both "inside" the Jewish community and "outside". A story both of family and a great love "outside". Quite detailed as Wouk is wont to be. Not as good as Winds of War, etc., but interesting.

  • Jim
    2019-01-26 19:05

    While Wouk's style and storytelling is intriguing, this novel did not hold together for me. The book seems more a series of anecdotes rather than a novel that is moving in a clear direction. The anecdotes are interesting, especial those dealing with the Jewish community in Minsk. Wouk’s storytelling seems better suited to stories that demand a larger view such as his series on World War II.

  • Lydia Lewis
    2019-02-19 22:43

    A very interesting look at a young jewish man and the life he lives inside and outside of his faith. It was very, very long though.

  • Blake
    2019-02-02 17:38

    I read it years ago and plan to read it again soon.

  • Erin Humbert
    2019-01-30 19:55

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. Insightful, interesting and culturally accurate, set in a time seldom learned about.

  • Becky
    2019-02-05 20:50

    One of the best books I've ever read. Such a vivid picture of Jewish immigrant life in New York during the early 1900's. I really loved it.

  • Tim Ganotis
    2019-01-25 18:55

    This book was wonderful. A deeply personal novel that left me constantly wondering how much of it was fiction, and how much was autobiographical. The story, set in three parts, is a great talent of a Jewish boy's family history, adolescense, and young adulthood, while occasionally flashing forward to the present day, set in the early 1970s in Nixon's White House and the Yom Kippur War. The author's book subjects remain highly varied with this Jewish-centric memoir, contrasted with earlier WWII based books, and other scientific research stories. Highly enjoyable, a solid, satisfying read.

  • Jc
    2019-01-30 20:44

    This is written as the tale of a Jewish immigrant, recently appointed to the Nixon administration. He describes the inside world of Russian Jews, confronted to the outside world of goys. It is well written and with a lot of humour. But after a while the Jewish folksy atmosphere becomes tiring.

  • Susan
    2019-02-18 20:00

    I really enjoyed the Jewish cultural moments. Wouk's gagwriting years became a bit long and tedious. Reading the tales of the people who came in and out of Wouk's life was interesting especially that Bobbie Webb. I like the author but I fell in love with his father. How I would have liked to meet him. I definitely plan to read a book written by Herman Wouk, now just to decide which one.

  • Walter
    2019-02-01 20:57

    I have always been a big fan of Herman Wouk, so when I came across this novel, I had to read it. It is a fantastic account of a young Jewish man growing up in 1920s Brooklyn, and then attending college and beginning his career in Radio in 1930s Manhattan. This is a semi-autobiographical novel of Wouk's life, although with some obvious differences. The scenes of growing up in New York are juxtaposed with the main character's later life in the White House of the 1970s, working under an un-named president who obviously represents Nixon. The story is beautiful in that it takes faith, the family and the neighborhood seriously. Wouk does not whine and moan about growing up as a Jew in an ethnic neighborhood. He writes lovingly about the faith of his family and his childhood and implies that he never really gave it up, although he rebelled against it in his later youth. As he attended college and began his career, his life left the Jewish neighborhood and he started to live and work among gentiles and secular Jews. Wouk describes the struggles that go along with that beautifully. The name of the novel, "Inside Outside", refers to the life of a Jew, who has his "inside" life, with his traditions, the synagogue, his Jewish name, etc., and also his "outside" life, with his secular career, his gentile name and his secular education. Wouk describes how his characters balance the inside and the outside, how he had a romance with a gentile girl who never really got the inside part of the main character's life, to the point that when she realized how deep his Jewish roots really were, she realized that she could never really pursue a serious relationship with him. The characters in this novel, as they are in all of Wouk's novels, are deep and very real. You really feel as though you know them by the end of the novel.The only drawback that I saw to this novel was the back and forth drawn between the childhood/young adult phases of the life and the 1970s. It is a bit confusing for the reader to finish a chapter about Yiddish in the Jewish school and then launch immediately into the Nixon White House in the next chapter. Perhaps Wouk wanted to draw out the contrast for the reader, but to me it was confusing. Wouk's description of the Yom Kippur War and the response of the Nixon Administration in supplying Israel is very compelling. We often forget that, despite his shortcomings, Nixon may have saved Israel in those days. Wouk obviously believes it.I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes a good coming of age story or who would like to read a novel about a Jewish child growing up.

  • Pamela
    2019-01-29 19:44

    Yes, I know. Only two stars for a Wouk book has to be some kind of sacrilege, but there are several reasons for this:1. The book was boring. The most interesting parts were those in the past, but even those were too much of the same old over and over and over again. Yeah, I get it. David's mother was strong. His father was insightful and kind. His sister was--well, what was she? There's not much at all about her. And David, he was wise beyond his years (and a total ass).2. The main character, David, was unlikable. He worried too much about the wrong things, and never seemed to worry about the right things. Plus, he was immature, hateful and mean-spirited. There is one scene where he is laughing his head off as someone sings horrid, degrading jokes in Hebrew or Yiddish about his boss--a man he purports to respect and care for. Yeah. Let's make fun of someone in front of them in a language they don't understand. That is so mature!3. The naming of the characters was amateurish and far below what you'd expect from someone of the stature of Wouk. There's the gentile woman who keeps drawing David back to her named Webb--Get it? Like a spider web? There's the guy who pays David far more than he is worth named...wait for it...Goldhandler. How clever is THAT? (Not very!) And then David and his family--Goodkind of which David is neither--He is neither good nor kind. (See Point #2.) Come on, Wouk! Give your readers at least a bit of credit! On the nose names like these are an insult to both your talent and your readers.4. The book was too long for what it covered. Yes, I realize I touched on this problem in Point #1, but a short boring book is so much more enjoyable than a long boring book. Unfortunately that's what this is--a long boring book.

  • Brian
    2019-02-02 19:59

    As with most things in life, books can be broken down into three categories: crap, the real deal, and everything in between. This book is the real deal, but it's probably not going to be everybody's cup of tea. It's very much the story of a guy and his relation to his religion (he's Jewish) and how that relates to his family. The format of the novel is somewhat unconventional in that it consists of two time lines: a contemporary timeline, in which our narrator is an adult in the early 1970's, and a flashback timeline representing scenes from his childhood. The bulk of the book is made up of the these childhood memories, presented as a series of essentially stand alone stories. The notion is that the narrator is capturing his memories of his family as a tribute to his parents. All in all, a fairly dense read that really makes you feel like you're reading an actual memoir.

  • Stan Hayes
    2019-01-31 15:45

    With Inside, Outside, Herman Wouk (still percolating at 97) affords the reader multifaceted insights into the life of Israel David Goodkind, his family, his friends and his enemies in early/mid-century New York City. Written primarily from the point of view of a functionary in the Nixon White House, it proceeds, in satisfying detail, to illustrate the ups and downs of living within his Jewish extended family (the "inside") and the secular world ("the outside"). His parents devout Jews, his grandfather a Talmudic scholar, David must navigate between these completely different worlds as he comes to grips with assimilation into the world "outside."More when I finish-

  • Carol
    2019-02-19 18:47

    Slightly paraphrasing: "Sense of humor, God's comfort to mankind for the tragic human predicament." A novel so rich in Jewish traditions, strengths and weaknesses, life's events on scales large and small. Told in bursts, certainly not in chronological order, the reader is invited into the hearts and minds of this particular Jewish tribe and their cohorts. These individual bursts of revelations, simple through grandiose, create amazing synergy, the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. Laugh hardily, reflect deeply while wading through this lengthy yet enlightening book. Recommend.

  • Gail
    2019-02-15 19:52

    I absolutely loved this book. Not only does it tell a great story, many of the incidents described were similar to things my dad had told me of his youth. Although the narrator of the book is a Jewish boy and my dad was Catholic, the similarity of the times and the city was somehow comforting to me and made my dad seem to be more, er, real, if that's understandable at all. The book inspired me to do a bit of oral history with Dad, which the whole family enjoyed. And Wouk is a great story teller.

  • Arielle Katz
    2019-02-07 18:38

    I started reading Wouk with Marjorie Morningstar several years ago, which has become my favorite book, and finally picked up this book. The detail with which the author tells this story is unbelievable. Although a slow read, I always wants to keep going. There were parts where I laughed, cried or was just so captivated that I have now become a forever fan of Herman Wouk. If you aren't Jewish or aren't familiar with Judaism, there may be parts you don't understand, but overall this books was amazing and I highly recommend it! If you don't like slow reads, this one isn't for you.

  • Susan
    2019-01-27 20:38

    This was one of my mom's books that has sat on my shelf for decades. I'm glad I ran out of things to read and gave it a chance. It was written during Nixon's administration so it is not exactly "current" but somethings are timeless and it sure was an interesting time in history. The title stands for the names a Jew has, the Inside name (amongst their family and synogogue) and the Outside name (one the world knows them by). It was a great story of what one man's inside and outside lives where like. It was a slow read, but I liked it a lot.

  • Renny
    2019-02-05 22:46

    I have read several of Herman Wouk's books. Each one has touched where life shines brightest inside. This one is no exception. The words pull one into the world of a yesterday that helped build our present reality with a time immersion through the eyes of a culture at once mine, yet not, about moments I have lived through, yet not... All this via parallel historical perspectives and subcultural human experiences manifesting those multiple universal dilemmas common to each one of us... A really good book.

  • Laura
    2019-02-12 20:56

    This book reminded me a lot of a male, Jewish version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (one of my favorites). I loved this book as well, but unlike ATGiB, it's not something I can see myself picking up over and over again, just to read a particularly moving scene. It did, however, make me laugh out loud in parts, made me think, and, unlike ATGiB, I recognized and enjoyed the cultural references. The chapters are short, which (for me) made the book feel a lot quicker and faster-paced than its length suggests; despite the short chapters, the novel still flows together well.

  • Jim
    2019-02-16 23:04

    In what appears to be a semi-autobiographical narrative of a young man from a very religious and traditional Jewish family growing up in Depression-era New York, Wouk gives us a taste of his humor, his love of history, and his devotion to his faith and produces a very enjoyable and interesting novel. There are some memorable characters, some very funny scenes, and a real sense of what life must have been like in those times. Highly recommended!

  • Ruth Jalfon
    2019-02-03 16:39

    wonderfully written book about jewish immigrants from eastern europe coming to the promised golden land of the USA. All about how jews live in the diaspora on the 'outside' while keeping or drifting from the 'inside' faith and traditions. Fantastic characters, humorous, and something every practicing Jew in the diaspora can understand and identify with. Some laugh out loud moments when some joke particular hits home and reminds me of my own family.

  • Greg
    2019-02-05 15:04

    Being born in the early 80s, I was wondering what I was doing reading this book about a very different generation. I was pleasantly surprised. On one hand the book brought some nostalgia for some of the stories I heard about my own father and his brothers growing up in Queens. On the other hand, I found a lot to relate to myself in the story about family, religion, relationships and business.