Books critic Adam Kirsch reviews a new biography of Leon Uris, the writer of the novel Exodus, today in Tablet Magazine, and boy was Uris not, let us say, someone you would want to know personally. Essentially a bunch of Westerns—“Mila-18 was a Warsaw Ghetto Western, Topaz a Cuban spy Western, Trinity an Irish Western,” and, of course, Exodus a “Middle Eastern Western”—Uris’s books were nonetheless best-sellers and even enormously influential.
Exodus was especially popular with Soviet Jewish refuseniks, and I personally wonder whether these men and women liked it partly because it must have so resembled the Party-line literature they were brought up on. As no less than David Ben-Gurion said of Uris’s magnum opus, “As a literary work it isn’t much. But as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel.”