Throughout the course of this project, many have shared with me their experiences of Leon Uris, from a Chilean doctor who read Exodus at thirteen to a woman who toured Ireland using Trinity as a guide. This narrative reverses the process, telling the story of Leon Uris’s life in order to share it with his readers. Three people have been especially important in its writing: the first is the late Milton Smith, a Texas philanthropist and businessman who was instrumental in facilitating the acquisition of the Uris archive for the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Matching his enthusiasm for this account of Uris was his energetic and persistent encouragement. Only just before his death at ninety-five did he grudgingly admit that “he did not have life by a long string,” urging me not to waste time. The Moshana Foundation, which Smith founded with his wife Helen, has been, and continues to be, an active sponsor of cultural activities throughout Texas and beyond. Their support of this project is graciously acknowledged. Lonnie Taub, the current director of the Moshana Foundation and Milton Smith’s daughter, has maintained her father’s passion for the subject.
Mark Uris, Leon Uris’s eldest son, was also a remarkable resource and support. His candidness in sharing details about growing up with his father and the adventures of travel, research, and skiing—a Uris passion—was highly valued. His generosity was constant and deeply appreciated. Mark’s memory of the family’s dramatic departure from Israel in 1956 during the Suez crisis is a keynote in my recounting of Uris’s eight-month stay in the country. Additionally, his research into sources, stories, and documents wonderfully augmented my own investigations. In a spirit of cooperation, he offered letters, photographs, and information. His death from cancer in 2007 was as unexpected as it was tragic.
Jill Uris is the third figure without whose help this book would not possess any