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Trinidad by Leon Uris Review

Title: Trinidad

Author: Leon Uris

First published January 1, 1976

680 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9789500410212 (ISBN10: 9500410214)

Rating: 4.28


Leon Uris’s Trinidad, a gripping novel now available in mass market paperback, takes readers on a journey through the tumultuous history of the Caribbean island. Set against the backdrop of the island’s struggle for independence, this epic adventure follows the daring exploits of a young revolutionary and the woman who risks everything to join his cause.

With themes of love, danger, and sacrifice, Trinidad is a powerful portrait of a nation divided by politics, race, and class. Uris’s masterful storytelling captures the heart-wrenching beauty of a land torn apart by conflict, and the unbreakable human spirit that refuses to be extinguished.

About the Author

Leon Marcus Uris was a well-known American novelist who was respected for his historical fiction and the extensive research he put into his books. His two most successful novels were Exodus, which was published in 1958, and Trinity, which was released in 1976.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland to Jewish-American parents, Wolf William and Anna (Blumberg) Uris, Leon’s father was a paperhanger and storekeeper who had immigrated from Poland. After spending a year in Palestine following World War I, he changed his surname to Yerushalmi, which means “man of Jerusalem.” Leon’s uncle, Aron, also changed his name to Yerushalmi.

Leon failed English three times and never graduated from high school, but at age seventeen, he joined the United States Marine Corps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a radioman in combat on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and New Zealand from 1942 to 1945.

While recovering from malaria in San Francisco, he met Betty Beck, a Marine sergeant, and they married in 1945.

After leaving the military, he worked for a newspaper and wrote in his spare time. In 1950, Esquire magazine bought one of his articles, and he started focusing more on writing.

His bestselling novel, Battle Cry, was inspired by his experiences in Guadalcanal and Tarawa and depicted the bravery and strength of U.S. Marines in the Pacific. Leon then worked with Warner Brothers in Hollywood to write the movie, which was not critically acclaimed but was popular with the public.

He went on to write The Angry Hills, a novel set in war-time Greece.

In the early 1950s, Leon was reportedly hired by an American public relations firm to go to Israel and “soak up the atmosphere and create a novel about it.” This resulted in Exodus, which was published in 1958 and became his most famous work. Some sources claim that Leon financed his own research for the book by selling the film rights in advance to MGM and writing articles about the Sinai campaign.

It took two years of research and thousands of interviews to write Exodus, which tells the story of Palestine from the late 19th century to the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. The book was a global bestseller, translated into many languages, and was made into a feature film in 1960 starring Paul Newman and directed by Otto Preminger.

Uris’ novel, Topaz, was also adapted for the screen and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Leon’s other notable works include Mila 18, which is about the Warsaw ghetto uprising; Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin, which reveals the detailed work done by British and American intelligence services in planning for the occupation and pacification of post-WWII Germany; Trinity, a sweeping novel about Ireland’s fight for independence; QB VII, which is about the role of a Polish doctor in a German concentration camp; and The Haj, which provides insights into the history of the Middle East and the secret actions of foreigners that have led to current turmoil.

Leon was married three times, first to Betty Beck with whom he had three children, then to Margery Edwards in 1969, who passed away a year later, and finally to Jill Peabody in 1970, with whom he had two children, before divorcing in 1989. Leon died at the age of 78 from renal failure at his Long Island home on Shelter Island.

The Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin houses Leon Uris’s papers, which include all of his novels except The Haj and Mitla Pass, as well as manuscripts and other materials.

Editoral Review

Trinidad is a historical fiction novel by Leon Uris, first published on January 1, 1976. Uris is an American author and screenwriter known for his works of historical fiction, including Exodus, QB VII, and Topaz.

Trinidad is set in the early 1900s during the construction of the Panama Canal, a feat of engineering that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, revolutionizing global trade. Trinidad follows the lives of three main characters: Mitchell, a wealthy American businessman; Clancy, a tough Irish engineer; and Angelique, a beautiful French woman.

These characters find themselves in Trinidad, a small Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, where they become entangled in a romantic and political drama that mirrors the larger conflicts of the era. Uris’s prose is vivid and evocative, immersing the reader in the lush landscapes, humid jungles, and bustling ports of the Caribbean.

He pays careful attention to historical accuracy, incorporating real-life figures such as President Teddy Roosevelt and Chief Engineer John Frank Stevens into the narrative. Uris explores themes of imperialism, capitalism, and racial tension, as the Americans and Europeans clash with the local population, stirring up resentment and violence.

The novel also delves into the personal struggles of the main characters, as they navigate love, loss, and betrayal amidst the chaos. One of the strengths of Trinidad is Uris’s ability to weave historical context into a compelling and engaging story.

He captures the complexities of the era, shedding light on the human stories behind the construction of the Panama Canal. However, the novel can also be slow-moving at times, particularly in the first half, as Uris establishes the setting and characters.

Overall, Trinidad is a thrilling and informative read that is sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction. It offers a glimpse into a fascinating and often overlooked period of history and raises important questions about globalization, cultural exchange, and identity.

Although not without its flaws, Trinidad is a masterful work of fiction that deserves a place on any historical fiction enthusiast’s bookshelf. Rating: 4/5

Recommended for: Fans of historical fiction, those interested in the Panama Canal, anyone looking for a richly detailed and well-crafted novel.

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