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Exodus by Leon Uris

Leon Uris once said, "My greatest accomplishment is Exodus. It changed peoples lives, it changed the conception of the Jewish people in the international scene."

Exodus is an international publishing phenomenon - the towering novel of the twentieth century's most dramatic geopolitical event. Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies - the beginning of an earthshaking struggle for power. Here is the tale that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse, an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era.

Preparing to write Exodus, for example, he read nearly 300 books, underwent a physical-training program in preparation for about 12,000 miles of travel within Israel and interviewed more than 1,200 people...

The drive to write Exodus emerged from the question aroused in his research: “Why must we fight for the right to live, over and over, each time the sun rises?” 

While the real-world 1947 Exodus ship affair and the representation of a ship of the same name in the Uris version differ greatly in regards to historical accuracy, they nonetheless played the same role in political and public respects.

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  • Reviewing a later novel by Mr. Uris in the New York Times Book Review, Pete Hamill wrote in 1976: ''Leon Uris is a storyteller, in a direct line from those men who sat around fires in the days before history and made the tribe more human. The subject is man, not words; story is all, the form it takes is secondary.'' Do you find the text very "readable?" What obstacles did you face in understanding the story being shared?
  • In the 19th century, Ari's father Jossi and uncle Yakov are driven by a Russian pogrom, a violent anti-Jewish riot, to seek refuge in Palestine. They find Palestine disappointing because the Jews are too proud to farm and spoiled by money pouring in from overseas philanthropists. What does this teach the reader about the changes that have happened in the land by the time Ari Ben Canaan arrives nearly 100 year later? And now 70 years since then?
  • "Uris' Israel is very much the Israel of Labor Zionism and the kibbutz and moshav movements. He buys into the concept of the "new Jew" - the independent fighter so unlike the weak, defenseless Jews of the diaspora who had been left defenseless against the Nazis." What's your Israel?
  • "There was an aggressiveness and pride about them...and they were always filled with the songs and dances and ideals of the redemption of the homeland...These were the ancient Hebrews! These were the faces of Dan and Reuben and Judah and Ehphraim. These were Samsons and Deborahs and Joabs and Sauls." How does this relate to the image of the Jew in modern society?
  • Uris tries to depict how Israel strains to absorb massive immigration and defend against expected new warfare. What is the literary value of this imagery? What is the emotional value?
  • The U.N. partitions Palestine, and the Arabs scream, "Death to the Jews." During the War of Liberation, Haganah gradually prevails over the three Arab generals who vie for fame and adopt the tactic of siege warfare that we still see evident today. Why is this event important to the telling of the story?What does it evoke from the reader?
  • What is your favorite selection from the book, and why?
  • Is Exodus a book you would recommend, why, and to whom?

The Reading Israel Book Club's Book of the Month

Every month, the Reading Israel Book Club at Israel Forever brings you a new literary delight to grow your Israel connection through the written word.

We hope that you enjoy our selections and participate in discussion not only with your friends and family but with an international community of readers in our open discussion group on Facebook.

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Tags: Books