Leon Uris (1924 – 2003) is referred to as "the author's author". He was recognized as a great writer in a time that was willing to listen to non-traditional voices, specifically in mid-1970's America.
Uris managed to turn many eyes towards classic power struggles that were long ignored or misunderstood by writing in a way that was grounded in real tragedy, real human tragedy. In his two major books, Trinity and Exodus, these tragedies and their fall-out took place across generations of men.
Uris's unflinching insight into the highs and lows of human condition came from personally witnessing the universal struggle for equality and independence that were part of his experience as a Marine in wartime and then as a traveler to Israel and Ireland after WWII ended.
After Pearl Harbor was bombed Uris, a Jew kid born in Baltimore, joined the Marines. In this capacity, Uris served in the South Pacific as a combat radioman at Guadalcanal where many fierce battles were fought and lost by the US. Uris's unit fought on an atoll in the Gilbert Islands named Tarawa that was the site of a British colony against the Japanese. He was deployed in New Zealand, another colony of the British Empire, from 1942 through 1945. Uris saw, first hand, the effects of the empires of Japan and England at war and the effect on the indigenous populations that lived on their battlegrounds of total carnage.
In WWII era Tarawa, Uris and his unit fought a dug-in Japanese force with the use of a scorched earth policy that completely decimated the atoll. Of the estimated 5,000 deployed Japanese fighting forces (that number does not include Korean laborers) embedded at Tarawa - only 146 Japanese soldiers survived. There is no record of native casualties. Today, due to extensive bombing designed to dislodge bunkers, the atoll still struggles to produce enough food to feed it's native population. The atoll was literally bombed into the Stone Age over 65 years ago.
Before the cliches pile any higher, human condition and military history and all this much spoken of rot, let's look at a clear example. An example of these same driving forces of greed and warfare were used to decimate the people of the First World nation of Ireland by the same Empire that Sgt. Uris fought on behalf of in WWII.
Trinity, written in 1976, is the story of the Irish fight, both political and militarily, for independence as a sovereign nation against the British empire well from 1850 to WWI. Whereas, a state of legal slavery was brought about by the haughty "divine right" of English Kings in Ireland for many generations - each generation of Irish man wanted a claim to his country for his own. These men were met with elitism, cold-blooded murder, insanity and imprisonment for the cause of their own country's independence.
These men were not the modern American or Mexican equivalent of "outlaws" - drug dealing rats that they are. They were not drug dealers pumping .22 rounds into crowds for kicks or hill-billys stringing up random strangers of the "wrong" color or occupation. These, for the most part, were honorable men with an honorable but desperate fight. Too often, the IRA employed violent tactics that damaged their own causes in the form of attempted assassinations and bombings that too often claimed innocent lives while killing very few of those who sought to undermine Irish independence.
This fight against the English attempt to conquer Ireland made paupers and slaves for an ancient Empire anyway. The English honed their methodology for submission from lessons thoroughly learned from the Dutch and Spanish colonial efforts in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean then applied it with brutal force to The Virgin Islands and the subcontinent of India. The centuries long attempts to annex Ireland employed many of the same brutal tactics used in these distant colonies.
This effort to build and maintain an English Empire attempted to franchise the process of slavery and drain a foreign country of it's natural resources - ignoring the economic impact to native people. In these continual efforts to annex Ireland, it must be pointed out that in Ireland's case, one race of white people were quite nearly conquered by other race of white people for an alternating series of justifications.
Justifications varied with the centuries, from divine right of English monarchy, to expansionist Social Darwinism in social doctrines and finally the clash of two major sub-religions with each side claiming a truer path to the same God. In each century, England imposed it's will onto the sleepy backwater country of Ireland in hundreds of despicable ways.
In the late 19th century from 1850 on to WWI Irish/English relations were that of master and slave, strained with wild engagements such as the Easter Uprising in 1916, to refusing Catholic men the right to work (especially in Dublin, Ulster and Derry in Northern Ireland) as official public policy enforced economic slavery with a brutal efficiency.
By 1850, England had been in the role of occupier at war with the Irish for over 400 years - at war with a country with no official standing army. Ireland was instead represented by a series of corrupt politicians. These English pawns were snakes-in-the-grass that actively worked against their own people. The Irish have no native serpents but just the same, these corrupt self-serving snakes made it their business to vote down Home Rule and Irish Independence. These snakes-in-the-grass crushed the life from populist leaders like the brilliant leader Charles Stewart Parnell who had supported civil and religious freedom of choice for the Irish people. The snakes wound themselves tightly around the legs of the people of Ireland at every opportunity. These snakes did so in exchange for land stolen from a civilized people and blood money taken in quasi-legal farces.
These Men-Who-Were-Snakes claimed, before Almighty God and humble man alike - to be Ireland's true "leaders". Today, they live on in history as Judas Iscariot does - as loathsome, selfish creatures that crept, sneaked, sweated and belly-crawled through life by stealing bread from their brothers' table, the living table called Ireland.
Trinity is an 800-page-book, an outstanding record of a conglomerate family that lived and died in these struggles brought on by conquerors and snakes-in-the-grass. The Larkins, written with the real deeds of many real men in mind, represent a struggle in Ireland that has been fought for nearly 600 years up to the present day. Trinity covers all the events mentioned above and ends right before the partitioning of Ireland in 1922 into Northern Ireland and Ireland. The characters are vivid and the book is definitive of that elusive gem of what good writing should be - a saga, complete with heroes and very real villains who have shaped the course of history right up to this very day.
Uris, many years later, perhaps sensing a renewed need to examine the subject of Irish independence during the events prior to the Good Friday Peace Accords reached in Belfast reached in 1998, Uris returned to Irish sovereignty in his novel Redemption released in 1995.
Wikipedia, Leon Uris
Wikipedia, Irish Republican Army
Library Thang, Trinity