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Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller (Jewish Life, History, and Culture) Hardcover – October 15, 2010

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Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller (Jewish Life, History, and Culture) + Our Exodus: Leon Uris and the Americanization of Israel's Founding Story
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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Life, History, and Culture
  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780292709355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292709355
  • ASIN: 0292709358
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,116,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim Lester on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leon Uris was a serious man who wrote about serious subjects. He didn't write potboilers or vampire novels. He wrote novels about recent history--World War II, the founding of Israel, the Warsaw ghetto, the Berlin airlift--and he laced his exciting narratives with heavy doses of genuine history. And the reading public of the 1950s and 1960s loved every word.

Uris' massive research made him the master of journalistic fiction in the era of the Big Blockbuster Novel and in books like BATTLE CRY, EXODUS, MILA 18 AND ARMAGGEDON he dramatized historical events that often had a direct impact on the contemporary world.

Sadly, in Nadel's biography the man behind these bestsellers comes off as a humorless, combative, controlling and grumpy individual who often mistreated his own children and hit on every woman in sight. The book does cover the highlights of Uris' tumultuous life including his falling out with director Otto Preminger over the making of the film version of EXODUS and the suicide of Uris' second wife. Occasionally, however, there are three or four year gaps in the biographical narrative that leave the reader wondering what happened during those years.

One of the strengths of Nadel's book is the summaries of his subject's novels, which offers a terrific overview of some of the best books of the mid-20th century. One minor criticism of Nadel's biography is that the print in the hardback edition is unbelievably small, especially for an older audience, who would be the major readers of Uris' work. My advice would be to get the Kindle version, adjust the font and enjoy this behind the scenes look at the life of one of America's premier popular novelists.
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