Jews take pride in calling themselves “the people of the book,” and while there’s something a little vainglorious about the phrase -- all peoples have books, don’t they? -- its appeal is easy to understand. For millennia, in the absence of land and power, Jews found a kind of virtual sovereignty in texts, and the history of Judaism from the Babylonian exile onward could be written as a history of books and writers -- the Torah and the Prophets, the Mishnah and Gemara, Rashi and Maimonides, down to modern, secular authors such as Theodor Herzl, Sholem Aleichem and Primo Levi.
I was saddened to hear author Leon Uris died.
Leon Uris, the novelist and screenwriter whose best-known works are "Exodus," a popular novel about Jews trying to establish modern Israel, and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," perhaps the archetypal Hollywood Western, died June 21 at his home on Shelter Island, N.Y. He was 78.