Friday, April 12, 2013

Writing History I Can't Forget: Leon Uris

"I once interviewed to work at the Osceola County Library.  (One of my dream 'retirement' jobs is to work at a bookstore or library).  As part of the interview, I was asked to name one of my favorite authors.  I have a handful of authors I have returned to again and again without hesitation but only a few.  One of those authors, and whose name I offered to the interviewer, was Leon Uris, a master, in my opinion, of historical novelization.

Exodus, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman, no doubt is Uris's most well-known work, and it was the first book I read which was written by Uris.  My interest in the book was certainly helped by my then-obsession of the modern State of Israel.  Enthralled is probably the best word to describe how I felt when I read Exodus.  It was exciting, intriguing, enlightening, and I wanted more when I finished, which I got by reading The Haj years later and loved it even more than Exodus.  I eventually read every Leon Uris book he ever wrote except for the non-fiction books he worked on.

Uris was best at characters, both fictional and those based on real personalities.  As the reader, you care a lot about his characters.  You want to know what happens to them, where they go, who they love, and who they hate.  They are three-dimensional and memorable.  Furthermore, Uris was adroit at putting really interesting characters into some pretty fascinating stories, made more so because they're based partly in historical fact. 

Uris definitely wrote some stinkers—A God in Ruins comes sadly to mind.  He had some mediocre ones, such as Mila 18.  But I remember him most for his great books, perhaps even masterpieces—Exodus, The Haj, and Armageddon.  He will always be one of my favorite authors.  He wrote a history I will never forget."

*Leon Uris passed away June 21 2003.  He was 78 years old.

1 comment:

  1. I am just now reading "The Haj". Have been deeply fascinated and the affected by all aspects of Israel and recently, the British hand in the killing of so many surviving Jews in the years immediately following WWII! Of course, the US has been complicit in the era Uris writes about in this book. I am amazed that no parent in my small community told me the truth when I was asking all and sundry hard questions-in 1960.

    Guess there is a reason for my rather late discovery. Perhaps my brain WOULD have burst.