From Publishers Weekly
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.
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"Ira B. Nadel's Leon Uris: Life and Times of a Best Seller has a similar set of concerns to those that preoccupies Q. D. Leavis over eighty years ago in Fiction and the Reading Public: the relationship between literary "quality" and the best-seller... Nadel Explains that "Conflict - personal, social, political, and cultural - is the heart of Uris's writing", while wondering "How can one who wrote so ineptly still have such a wide and persistent audience?". Ultimately, Nedel does not resolve the dichotomy between best-selling success and the preconception of literary quality, but he has written a readable and informative study that reveals much more about its subject..." - William Baker, Times Literary Supplement