Length of time in possession before being read : 2 or 3 days
Exodus is the story of birth of a nation. The nation of Israel as a sovereign state recognised by the UN in 20th Century History. It begins at the close of World War 2 with many post Holocaust Jews endeavouring to be repatriated to the Jewish state promised them by the international community. It is very different from Anita Diamant’s Day After Night, which focused on female refugees themselves and not just because it is a better novel.
We are introduced early in the novel to its two central protagonists. One is Kitty Fremont, a bereaved American nurse, who has some intrinsic anti-semitic prejudices and Ari Ben Canaan, a native Israeli and a hard as nails freedom fighter, part of early Mossad. Kitty joins a party of immigrants in order to remain close to an orphaned girl, slowly finding that she falls in love with Israel and the other characters we meet.
In addition to the post war narrative we also get several other narratives, the journey of Ari Ben Canaan’s forefathers; Yakov and Jossi Rabinsky, as they travel from a closed East European ghetto to Palestine, joining the small groups of Jewish settlements in the late 1800’s, as well as aspects of Ari’s own childhood.
So too, do we get the Holocaust survival stories of Karen Clement and Dov Landau, each with very different stories to tell. The final strand is the birth of a Nation, a birth of blood, grief and loss as the Arab Nations turn on the returning Jews for control of what was once Palestine beginning what is now a 70 year Middle Eastern Conflict.
I loved this book, each different strand was as compelling as the last and no section bored me. Interesting, informative, engrossing, entertaining, I had but one qualm against it:
The book, written by a Jewish author feels biased. The Arabs are described as primitive, lazy, lacking in education or motivation and are rarely described in any positive light and their political standpoint is not given any consideration let alone balanced consideration.
A thunderous hit at the time of publication, it is not very hard to see why.
Destination : Keeping this book
Verdict : 10/10