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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Best-selling author Uris dies
Author Leon Uris, who wrote the epic Exodus and other best-selling novels, has died aged 78.

He was considered a master of thick, well-researched tales of struggle, although his most famous work was accused by some of being too political.

Exodus, which tells the story of the birth of the Israeli nation through the Ben Canaan family, became a million-seller after being published in 1958.

He died of natural causes at his home on New York's Shelter Island on Saturday, his wife Jill said.

His other well-known works included Trinity, about three Irish families, spy thriller Topaz, and Mila 18, about the Jewish uprising in Warsaw during World War II.

From earliest memory I was determined not to be a failure
Leon Uris
The son of a Jewish Russian immigrant to the United States, Uris said his personality was shaped by the failures of his father.

"I think I can say without hesitation that from earliest memory I was determined not to be a failure," he said.

He did not let the fact that he failed English three times and dropped out of high school stop him becoming an author.

He took up writing after serving as a marine in World War II, and his first novel, Battle Cry, was published in 1953.

Espionage story The Angry Hills came out two years later, before he set out for Israel to research Exodus.

Controversy

He travelled thousands of miles in the process and became a war reporter in 1956 while there.

Exodus was released to acclaim and controversy when Dr Wladislav Dering, who was depicted as a war criminal, sued for libel.

A London court ruled in Dering's favour in 1964, but awarded him minimal damages and made him pay court costs.

Exodus became a film, starring Paul Newman, in 1960 - but Uris reportedly fell out with its director, Otto Preminger.

After that, he interviewed Holocaust survivors for his next work, Mila 18, which he called his proudest achievement.


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