Leon (Marcus) Uris 1924–
American novelist, dramatist, nonfiction writer, and scriptwriter.
Uris is best known for his popular novels based on events of contemporary history. These books, which are often panoramic in scope and include large casts of characters, are usually concerned with the events of World War II and its aftermath. Some critics have commented on the cinematic qualities of Uris's writing and, in fact, several of his books have been adapted for the screen. Foremost among these is Exodus (1958), Uris's work about the Jewish fight for independence and the resulting foundation of the state of Israel. Exodus was popular with critics and readers alike and became one of the bestselling novels ever published.
All of Uris's books combine fiction with extensive historical data. His first novel, Battle Cry (1953), is a realistic account of Marine Corps life during World War II. This work was an important departure from other war novels in its sympathetic treatment of the military. The Angry Hills (1955), another story about the Second World War, concerns the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Greece. Mila 18 (1961) recreates the Jewish defense of the Warsaw ghetto during the German occupation of Poland. Armageddon (1964) tells of the rebuilding of Berlin. Topaz (1967), a complex spy story, is based on Soviet influence in the French government during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. In QB VII (1970) Uris dramatizes a libel suit actually brought against him by a German doctor who claimed to have been maligned in Exodus. Ireland's troubled history from 1840 to 1916 is the focus of Trinity (1976). Uris's recent novel The Haj (1984) examines the Palestinian refugee situation in Israel as it existed until the late 1950s.
Critics dispute neither the popularity nor the readability of Uris's stories. They do, however, question the objectivity of his historical presentations and acknowledge technical flaws in his writing style. Uris has also been charged with creating stereotypical characters and unbelievable dialogue and with displaying propagandist intentions in his work. Sharon D. Downey and Richard A. Kallan have examined the methods Uris uses to develop his ideas and persuade his readers. They conclude that his work is an example of a growing trend in literature in which "documentary" novels and "literary" journalism blur the boundaries between fact and fiction.
(See also CLC, Vol. 7; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.; and Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 1.)