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Leon Marcus Uris (August 3, 1924 - June 21, 2003) was an Americanmarker novelist, known for his historical fiction and the deep research that went into his novels. His two bestselling books were Exodus, published in 1958, and Trinity, in 1976.


Leon Uris was born in Baltimoremarker, Marylandmarker, the son of Jewish-American parents Wolf William and Anna (Blumberg) Uris. His father, a Polishmarker-born immigrant, was a paperhanger, then a storekeeper. William spent a year in Palestine after World War I before entering the United States. He derived his surname from Yerushalmi, meaning "man of Jerusalemmarker." (His brother Aron, Leon Uris' uncle, took the name Yerushalmi) "He was basically a failure," Uris later said of his father. "He went from failure to failure."

Uris attended schools in Norfolkmarker, Virginiamarker and Baltimore, but never graduated from high school, after having failed English three times. At the age of seventeen, Uris joined the United States Marine Corps, serving in the South Pacific as a radioman at Guadalcanalmarker, Tarawamarker, and New Zealandmarker from 1942 through 1945. While recuperating from malaria in San Franciscomarker, he met Betty Beck, a Marine sergeant; they married in 1945.

In 1950, Esquire magazine bought an article from him and this encouraged him to work on a novel. The resulting best-seller, Battle Cry, graphically showing the toughness and courage of U.S. Marines in the Pacific and The Angry Hills, a novel set in war-time Greecemarker.

As a screenwriter and newspaper correspondent, he became intensely interested in Israelmarker. In the early 1950s, he was hired by Edward Gottlieb, an American public relations man seeking to improve Israel's image in the United Statesmarker, to write a novel about Israel's origin that portrayed Israel in a favourable light. This led to his best-known work, Exodus, which illustrates the history of Palestine from the late 19th century through the founding of the state of Israelmarker in 1948. Exodus was a worldwide best-seller, translated into a dozen languages, and was made into a feature film in 1960, starring Paul Newman, as well as a short-lived Broadway musical (12 previews, 19 performances) in 1971.

Uris' subsequent works included: Mila 18, a story of the Warsaw ghetto uprising; Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin, which reveals the detailed work by British and American intelligence services in planning for the occupation and pacification of post WWII Germanymarker; Trinity, an epic novel about Ireland's struggle for independence; QB VII, a novel about the role of a Polish doctor in a German concentration camp; and The Haj, with insights into the history of the Middle East and the secret machinations of foreigners which have led to today's turmoil.

He also wrote the screenplays for Battle Cry and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Leon Uris died of renal failure at his Long Islandmarker home on Shelter Islandmarker, aged 78.

Uris was married three times: to Betty Beck, with whom he had three children, from 1945 through their divorce in 1968; Margery Edwards in 1969, who died of an apparent suicide a year later, and Jill Peabody in 1970, with whom he had two children, and divorced in 1989.


  • In some of his books a likeable character is associated with the number 359195: for example, Danny Forrester's (Battle Cry) and Clinton Loveless' (Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin) service numbers and the number tattooed onto Dov Landau's (Exodus) forearm as his registration number in Auschwitzmarker.
  • He was born on the day on which Joseph Conrad died. Both writers had strong Polish connections.
  • He was known for his long epic novels. In one episode of The Simpsons, Cletus attempts to use one of his books to crack open the shell of a turtle, saying "Nothing cracks a turtle like Leon Uris".

Selected titles

See also


  1. "Author Leon Uris Dies at 78" The Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle Telegram, June 25, 2003, page A8.
  2. The Persuasion Explosion, Art Stevens, 1985
  3. Leon Uris Biography at

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