Saturday, July 7, 2007

Leon Uris: Exodus

This is a very dated book, in the sense it was released in 1958, and was not Leon's first book. That book was Battle Cry, about the US marines in the Pacific theatre of WW2. Exodus was published in 1958 and was a tremendous best-seller, being translated into 50 languages. I read this book, and soon after read the book 'O Jerusalem' by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, together giving me a very vivid picture of the struggles and tribulations involved in the creation of the state of Israel.
Exodus is the name of a ship used in trying to get a bunch of Jewish refugees to British controlled Palestine, over the quota allowed and with the British refusing to allow the refugees enter. At the end of the second World War, the Jewish population of middle and Eastern Europe had been decimated in the holocaust, and the true horrors of the Final Solution policy of the Nazis had been revealed.
In the early part of the 20th century, Jewish scholars and leaders had started seeing the land of Palestine as their god given destiny, and started movements to this land from the Jewish communities all over Europe and America. By the 30's and 40's, this movement had taken root, and more and more Jews were settling and buying land from the Arabs living there. A number of militant Jewish organizations formed, such as the Hagannah, Irgun, Stern, all with the purpose of getting the Jews to being treated as people with strength, and to aid in the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
Exodus is the story of a few principal characters such as Ari Ben Canaan (modeled on Moshe Dayan; who served in the British army during WW2, and after that devising means to get Jews to Palestine by breaking the British quota), Kitty Fremont (an American nurse, she has been recently widowed; she develops an attachment to a German refugee, Karen Clement and eventually to Ari), Bruce Sutherland (a British army officer with a Jewish mother who witnesses the horrors of the concentration camps at the end of the war and eventually becomes an advisor to Ari), Karen Clement (who was a refugee having lost most of her family in the concentration camps, and who eventually is killed right at the end of the book by Arabic invaders), and Dov Landau (another refugee who lost his family to the Nazis, he has become an expert forger (using that to prevent death in the concentration camps; he falls in love with Karen and has a thirst for revenge).

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