Book Review : Exodus by Leon Uris


Book : Exodus 

Author : Leon Uris

Published in : 1958

Total pages : 608 pages

Genre : Historical Fiction  

About the Book and Author – 

‘Exodus’ published in 1958 made Leon Uris one of America’s most popular writers.  This was the first book I have read of Leon Uris and I want more.   He has a very simplistic style of writing.  There are lot of details,  painstaking research is very much evident in the facts he has provided in the novel.

The book is about : 

the struggle of the Jews during the World War II finally culminating in the creation of the country Israel in 1948.

The main characters are a British Jewish Soldier who later becomes Palestine agent – Ari Ben Canaan,  an American nurse – Kitty Fremont, an American Journalist – Mark Parker,  a German Jewish girl – Karen and a Polish Jew Dov Landau.

The book traces the journey of these characters right from their parents struggle till the end of the book wherein the state of Israel is created.  It is a good history textbook for someone who wants to understand the Jewish-Israel-Arab-Palestine-Gaza struggles.

The story begins with Ari Ben Canaan planning the evacuation of 300 children from the Cyprus detention camps maintained by the British, to Palestine, ‘The Promised Land’.  The escape is planned to smuggle the children into the ship ‘Exodus’ and to take them to Palestine avoiding the British army.  The British army is responsible for managing the Jewish population in the Arab regions which they are trying to colonize.  They have set up base in Cyprus where all the Jews are landed, identified and marked for further transportation.  But, as to when the transport will happen, no one knows.  It starts to resemble a concentration camp with barbed wire, elaborate security systems, health and hygiene issues.  Though Ari plans the Exodus escape, but his ultimate aim is to create propoganda to force the UN to consider creating a country for the Jewish population, Israel.

There is some romance between Ari and Kitty,  Karen and Dov.  But it is not the highlight of the book.  It’s just another event in the life of the protagonists.

I liked – 

Leon has very well detailed the crimes the Jews endured including the genocides in Auschwitz,  Russian Jewish ghetto, Polish ghettos, struggles of the Jews in Germany, Denmark  in a very matter-of-fact way avoiding any sensationalism.  It did give me many sleepless nights to think that humans can put other humans through so much cruelty.  The worst was the way he described how the Nazis planned to kill maximum people with minimum effort and cost.

Out of all this hardship, emerge the main characters who are mentally very tough.  They are singularly united by the dream of The Promised Land.  It explains their actions in a simple ways.

I didn’t like:

Though the narration was good,  I felt Leon Uris was biased towards the Jewish population.  The Arabs have been shown negatively.  He mentions some radical Jews resorting to terrorist acts.  But,  about the Arabs, they are all painted black.  Surely,  it is a bit difficult to digest that all were bad and without good reason.  In fact, by the end of the book,  the Arabs are cutting a sorry figure.  My sympathies are going to them in the way they have been uprooted from their own lands and forced to live like refugees, always under the shadow of the gun from Israel.  They come across as simple tribes living off the desert as goat-herds.  But, maybe, that is not the whole truth.

Would I recommend the book – 

Yes.  It is definitely a good read.

Overall rating – 



Disclaimer :  The review is my personal opinion on the Book and has nothing to do with the politics of the region.   

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