I've just finished reading Exodus by Leon Uris. I must say, it is one of the most amazing books I have ever read.
I respect anyone who writes serious historical fiction. The perseverance and effort that goes into doing the research, plus the talent and imagination to create characters and fit them into the context properly - that is a lot of skill. And a lot of work. I can't even begin to imagine how many hours upon hours must have gone into this novel. Leon Uris, I applaud you.
The story starts with the British detention camps on Cyprus. These camps were set up to hold Jews who attempted to immigrate illegaly to Palestine immediately after the close of World War Two. The camps were little better than the concentration camps. No, there were not gas chambers or brutality or any of the most horrible things. But there was insufficient food and water, no medical surprise, thousands of people crammed into a small space...
It ends after the creation of Israel and the Jewish 'victory' in the War of Liberation.
Throughout the novel, Uris takes us back in time to tell the stories of various characters, giving a background to where they are in the present. In one case he goes back to the character's grandfather and tells that story all the way up to the character's youth just to give us the proper context for his personality and background.
The novel brought to light many things I had never realized about the Jewish struggle. The Russian Pale and the pogroms there in the late 18oos. I mean, I knew there has been anti-Semitism in the world pretty much as long as there have been Jews, but I didn't know all the nitty-gritty details. The ghettos of Poland - a half million Jews living in a space of six city blocks by twelve city blocks, cut off from the rest of the world. The Polish persecution of Jews which continued even after the Germans had withdrawn. I didn't realize how bad the British detention camps were. And of course, the struggle for Israel.
Oh, I knew what they went through to get into Palestine. I knew what they want through to get the partition sanctified by the UN. I knew about the War of Liberation and the incredible odds the Jews were fighting against, the crushing forces of the Arab armies. But I didn't know how much work they had to do once they were in. What they went throught just to buy land - and then to reclaim it, defend it, and try to build from it? It's amazing.
I would highly reccomend this book to anyone. Not only is the story of the Jews amazing, but Uris weaves a spellbinding tale of love and betrayal, happiness and sorrow, and incredible strength through his very real characters.
I maintain the highest respect for both the Jewish race as a whole and for Mr. Leon Uris.
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