Among the top five books I have ever read, and also one of the most important A poignant and beautifully told story that shares a painful struggle in Jewish history one of the many that goes untalked about in modern history classes This book should be mandatory reading in all highschools Although it is a novel, it is completely framed in historical facts I know because the stuff I read was so unbelievable, I had to look it up for myself to see if it was true I even found publically available UN documents and British Mandate period testimonies that verified the governmental meetings and other events Uris mentions This is one of the few books in my life that made me cry almost every time I picked it upto the point that after awhile, I just learned to grab the tissue box whenever I would pick up the book It is heart breaking to read what a hard time the Jewish people had Even though Israel only takes up 1 10 of 1% of the land in the M.
, at least they finally have a nation of their own again, after centuries of persecution and slaughter that made the Jewish population there dwindle to almost nothing The Jews painstakingly found their way back well the Holocaust kind of left little choice since they had already been kicked out of so many countries and some surviors who lost everything literally WALKED to Palestine from countries like Russia and Poland And just like they always have, the Jewish people used their strength of mind and spirit to keep going, and once again made Israel into the beautiful nation it once was They built it back up from almost nothing with literally their own blood, sweat and tears This story of perseverance, hope, and what could almost be deemed a miracle is so moving and so inspiring you will feel like cheering at the end Truly cathartic.
10 Stars, if I Could Much to my chagrin I have never read Leon Uris Why I waited I have no excuses to serve up Uris writes BIG books that are quite spectacular He is one of very few brilliant maestros in literature, in my opinion He writes with an ease that kept me turning the 648 pages of this great masterpiece His research into the facts of Palestine and the Exoduses to her holy land is extensive and as factual as possible in pre electronic 1958 His characters are so well developed that I felt each one was a member of my very own family I cried and laughed with them I felt their dreams and their pain and the blinding frustration as they followed their life long dream Palestine And certainly the British Empire would be their greatest friend, especially since they ratified the Palestine Mandate, right Wrong Why Oil, of course As the novel begins, the reader is introduced to the British duplicity Caught on the Cyprus shoreline in British DP camps behind barbed wire are thousands of Jewish refugees waiting for transport to Ersatz Israel after the conclusion of WW II Foreign correspondent Mark Palmer and his childhood friend Kitty Fremont are reunited and enjoying the Cyprus sun after the long war in Europe Since her husband and child s death, Kitty has been on the Greek Island working as a nurse in various orphanages Ari Ben Canaan, a very handsome sabra asks Mark to stay and will hand him an exclusive The Mossad agent is going to smuggle 300 children to Palestine right under the British noses They are to sail on the Exodus in two weeks time He also needs the services of Fremont, but she is adamant no Yes, you guessed it She eventually does, but only after she meets a young girl named Karen in the camps and hears David Ben Ami s tale of a historical abortion This tale begins in 1896 Russia and ends with the Rabinsky brothers in Ersatz Israel many long and difficult years later We also learn Karen and Dov s stories the young Jewish girl who Ari squirreled out of Germany and into Denmark and the quiet bitter concentration camp survivor who is at home in the dark dank sewers under a Polish Ghetto than in the light We meet the sabras Dagna, David, Eli, Jordana, and Ari This first generation of Ersatz Israel are strong and focused They are Israel They work hard without complaint to reclaim the dead land and will fight to their death to see Palestine as the independent state of Israel Death threatens on all sides, neither the Arabs nor the Brits want them there The ship Exodus is both a symbol and a life dream And Leon Uris s Exodus is the perfect vessel to tell their stories This is another book that I read as a young teenager I don t think I knew anyone who was Jewish and knew hardly anything about the history of Israel This book took me way outside my normal white suburban world It was another one of those thick books that I looked at and wondered how I could ever read that many pages But I did I am reading this book again, fifty five years later.
I have read a few other reviews of this book and find some that allege it is extremely anti Arab This may come from the current Israeli Palestinian conflict The book starts out with a fairly intense description of the Jewish experience of the World War II holocaust That is certainly an obvious way to give a good deal of sympathy to Jews One cannot but sympathize with their status after the war and their desire for a safe homeland.
One of the things that people often bring up about the Jews after the war is why didn t they just go back to places where they came from Why did they need a Jewish homeland The book goes that link to show why A good example is Poland were 3 1 2 million Jews lived at the time of the war The book goes into detail about how they were discriminated against in Poland over many generations and then how the Polish people stood by when the Germans came in and murdered the Jews en masse Of course some Jews did return to where they had lived before the war but many did not The book covers this territory very thoroughly.
This book is about 90% war and struggle and Jewish success against unlikely odds The characters are all dedicated foremost to creating a Jewish homeland.
While overall I liked the book, still, some niggling thoughts ate at the corner of my mind as I made my way through Exodus.
Whereas this book is fiction, for some reason, I came to this thinking that what Uris put down is very close to fact What worried me as I read it, is that it isn t Why Every Jew good, every Arab bad As well as the British who colonized Palestine at the time of Israel s independence That s too cut and dry for me In every conflict there is a right and wrong, this I believe firmly, but too often the lines blur There was no room for that in this book As much as I want to believe it s all true, and it is what it was, I know that it is not.
Although, I do enjoy historical fiction when based on facts that s okay with me It s fiction.
Stylistically, the story recounted a story rather than show one which is unfortunate The love stories were sweet but not terribly engaging except for Karen and Dov we needed of that one , and he had a habit of dropping characters off the face of the earth What the heck happened to Mark what s his name, the reporter at the beginning of the story What I did like was the re telling of the horrors of Nazi Germany and the History of the Jewish race from the Jewish Pale of Settlement Not that I like to hear it, but because we need reminded of it every once and awhile , and how he introduced characters by their history and their family s history.
And yes, ok, I cried at the end If you re at all interested in history, Jewish history in particular, you should pick it up, then tell me what you think.
This remarkable book documents the birth struggle of the Jewish State of Israel Many Holocaust survivors, amongst others, took part in that labor This account is historically accurate as historical novels go The reader comes to know the characters intimately the dashing soldier hero Ari Ben Canaan who falls in love with Kitty Fremont, the American nurse who reluctantly works with the Jews and grows to change her condescending attitude to a genuine love for these people There is the vivacious and beautiful Karen Clement a young German Jewish girl who was raised by a Christian family in Denmark in order to escape Hitler s Holocaust and Dov Landau who has lived through the worst horrors imaginable during the dreadful Nazi occupation of Poland We live through the trials and tribulation of those trying to set up a small homeland against overwhelming odds, violent Arab hordes and the bigotry of the British Empire This truthful account also looks through the eyes of Arabs, British and others.
The story of Exodus could be summarised in one sentence Brave godlike Jews defeat cowardly, evil Arabs and build the beautiful country of Israel Yuck.
Edit to add For those who want to comment on this review a suggestion no need to reiterate that this review represents my prejudice, because it does I have also clearly mentioned in my profile where my sympathies lie in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
You are free to comment of course, and I will not delete any comment just do not expect an answer in case you do not have anything new to say.
This book is chock full of bad prose, flat characters, and very unfortunate implications Every Jewish character is brave, strong, smart, and talented The Arabs, on the other hand, are all cowardly, stupid, and possessive of women with one exception, but he dies early on The founding of Israel was controversial, and you would think that an author writing about it would address the moral ambiguity Leon Uris doesn t even try He turns a complex, multi sided historical event into a cliched battle between good and evil This book frightened me There was one scene where a boy was inducted into an extremist Zionist organization The ritual involved placing one hand on a Bible and the other on a gun While the other characters didn t agree with the extremism at first, they later conceded that this organization had the right idea.
I m Israeli, and I could hardly stomach this book It scares me that so many people think it s a wonderful work of literature.