Here’s what I remember most about the book and the movie (other than Paul Neuman being in it, everyone else I thought was in it was in Lawrence of Arabia): The Jewish settlers were brave pioneers trying to create a homeland in the wake of Nazi attrocities. They only wanted peace. The Arabs could appear civilized but they were willing to bomb, murder and torture innocent settlers to drive them out of their homes.

I enjoyed the book, but in retrospect the entire post-settlement narrative (at least in America) was scripted from Uris’ pro-Israel narrative.

Long, complex, multi-character historical potboilers were popular back then (Hawaii, Shogun and Taipan) and I took every spare quarter to buy the paperback at the grocery store. Looking back, the only one I would read today that I read then is Catch-22, which horrified my southern Baptist parents when they found it in my room. I’ve read it twice since then, and even wrote my thesis on the book’s existential themes.

I’ve lost the paper and research (it was 1979, two wives and six or seven moves ago), but I do remember tracing Milo Minderbender’s transactions for the entire book and discovered he made a solid profit on those eggs.

I will admit that had I not read those long historical potboilers I might never have gone on to read Joyce, Lessing or Pynchon.

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Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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