As the best-selling author of Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, and Trinity, Leon Uris blazed a path to celebrity with books that readers could not put down. Uris's thirteen novels sold millions of copies, spent months on the best-seller lists, appeared in fifty languages, and have been adapted into equally popular movies and TV miniseries. Few other writers equaled Uris's fame in the mid-twentieth century. His success fueled the rise of mass-market paperbacks, movie tie-ins, and celebrity author tours. Beloved by the ...
As the best-selling author of Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, and Trinity, Leon Uris blazed a path to celebrity with books that readers could not put down. Uris's thirteen novels sold millions of copies, spent months on the best-seller lists, appeared in fifty languages, and have been adapted into equally popular movies and TV miniseries. Few other writers equaled Uris's fame in the mid-twentieth century. His success fueled the rise of mass-market paperbacks, movie tie-ins, and celebrity author tours. Beloved by the public, Uris was, not surprisingly, dismissed by literary critics. Until now, his own life and work-as full of drama as his fiction-have never been the subject of a book. In Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller, Ira Nadel traces Uris from his disruptive youth to his life-changing experiences as a marine in World War II. These experiences, coupled with Uris's embrace of his Judaism and desire to write, led to his unprecedented success and the lavish excesses of a career as a best-selling author. Nadel reveals that Uris lived the adventures he described, including his war experiences in the Pacific (Battle Cry), life-threatening travels in Israel (Exodus), visit to Communist Poland (Mila 18), libel trial in Britain (QB VII), and dangerous sojourn in fractious Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic (Trinity). Nadel also demonstrates that Uris's talent for writing action-packed, yet thoroughly researched, novels meshed perfectly with the public's desire to revisit and understand the tumultuous events of recent history. This made him far more popular (and wealthy) than more literary authors, while paving the way for writers such as Irving Wallace and Tom Clancy.
Never especially popular with the critics, Leon Uris was one of the biggest-selling writers of the 20th century (Battle Cry; Exodus; Trinity). Nadel doesn’t overpraise his subject’s writing, which he calls “inept,” but says Uris’s blend of historical research, larger-than-life heroes fighting injustice, and romance thrilled readers. Uris (1924-2003) was as feisty as any of his fictional creations. A high school dropout who couldn’t wait to join the Marines after Pearl Harbor, and largely self-taught, Uris certainly demonstrated that living well is the best revenge. Working in the movies, he had a love-hate relationship with Hollywood: lapping up the pay and glamour at first as the routine helped discipline his writing, but ultimately souring on the experience. (He was fired from the film Exodus by Otto Preminger and from Topaz by Hitchcock.) Uris’s personal life tracked a similar pattern of honeymoon period followed by aggressive knockdowns from the pedestal. He had a lousy relationship with his Russian-Jewish immigrant father--a disillusioned former Communist--and ”worrying, guilt-creating” mother, and three failed marriages, one of which ended with his wife’s suicide. Nadel (Ezra Pound: A Literary Life) serves up an almost breathless, informative account of the surface events of his subject’s life. 31 b&w photos. (Oct.)
IRA NADEL is Professor of English and Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and winner of the Medal for Canadian Biography. His books include Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen, Double Act: A Life of Tom Stoppard, Ezra Pound: A Literary Life, and David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre, which was selected by the Times of London as one of the seven best books in theatre and film for 2008.
Prologue. "American Marine, Jewish Writer"
Chapter 1. "The Truth Will Rise"
Chapter 2. Eagle, Globe, and Anchor
Chapter 3. Battle Cry at Larkspur
Chapter 4. Hollywood
Chapter 5. Exodus, or "The Book"
Chapter 6. History and Resistance
Chapter 7. Love and Litigation
Chapter 8. "Short Titles, Long Books, Big Sales"
Chapter 9. Ireland
Chapter 10. Return
Chapter 11. Russian Renewal
Chapter 12. Redemption, or America Redux