BATTLE CRY AT LARKSPUR
Sure, it’s got guts … sure, it’s got gore … but what it’s got most of is GLORY!”
—BATTLE CRY, DUST JACKET (1953)
DESPITE ITS APPEARANCE after The Naked and the Dead, Guard of Honor, From Here to Eternity, and The Caine Mutiny, Battle Cry stood alone.1 Among these original novels of the Second World War, Uris’s was the only one to express a positive, supportive view of the military despite the carnage, confusions, and loss of life inherent in war. Patriotism not nihilism, heroism not cowardice, defined its themes, which were welcomed by the marines and the public. The writing and publication of the book were more of a challenge, however. And even though he wrote some six or seven years after the fighting in the Pacific, Uris was still able to re-create the intensity and danger faced by marines in battle, as well as their lives at home.
Uris and Betty moved to 62 Piedmont Road in Larkspur, California, in 1947, a step up made possible by his first full-time job, at the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, and made necessary by the birth of their daughter, Karen, earlier that year. As a district circulation manager (formal title: division manager) responsible for some twenty-six paperboys, he earned seventy-five dollars a week, plus a car and expenses. But if he were approved as a union member (which he later was), his salary would go up. Competing with the San Francisco News, the afternoon Call-Bulletin had a large circulation, although the rivalry was cutthroat. Working in the city, Uris had to, first, increase circulation in a black neighborhood, then in a “hoodlum” district, and finally in the Sunset District, “where all the middle classed peasants dwell.”2 To his delivery boys, he was both “a father confessor and boss,” but he always found time to play ball and entertain them.3 In the same letter, he suggests that he might attend school next fall, “perhaps law.” A touch of asthma, however, possibly related to his malaria, slowed him down, but the flare-up, plus the need for more room, accelerated his search for brighter and larger quarters across the bay in Marin County.