Born August 3rd

Two of my favorite novelists have birthdays today: Baroness Phyllis Dorothy James (b. 1920, d.2014) and Leon Marcus Uris (b. 1924, d. 2003).

Although I like her detective novels very much, my favorite P. D. James novel as of now is Children of Men, a dystopian novel about a world where no children are born. I suggest that those who are prone to look askance at large families and pro-life ideals read James’ rather chilling picture of a future with no children at all. Read my review here. The movie version of Children of Men skews the themes and the plot of the book to make it more about refugees and anti-refugee sentiments than about fertility and the tragedy of a world without human reproduction.

Leon Uris is sometimes described as a “Zionist” and one obituary in the British newspaper The Guardian referred to him as a racist for his portrayal of Arabs in his admittedly pro-Jewish novels. I think this is an unfair accusation, but if you are Palestinian, or sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, you might not enjoy Uris’ novels as much as I do. Exodus, Mila 18, and QB VIII are all great stories with lots of historical information about Israel and the experience of modern Jews in Europe during and after World War II.
My thoughts about Uris and James and their books on this date in 2004.

Uris’ most famous book,Exodus, was made into a move with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in the lead roles. Reviews of the movie are mixed (I’ve never seen it), however, composer Ernest Gold won the Academy Award for Best Original Score of the movie Exodus at the 1960 Oscars. I recommend both the movie music and the book.

Pat Boone wrote the following lyrics for the Exodus main theme:

“The Exodus Song”

This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

To make this land our home
If I must fight, I’ll fight to make this land our own
Until I die, this land is mine

Also born on this date:
Mary Calhoun, picture book author of Hot-Air Henry and other books about Henry the Adventurous Cat. I like the story of Henry getting trapped in a hot air balloon and going for a wild ride.
Ms. Calhoun also wrote Cross Country Cat, High-Wire Henry, Henry the Sailor Cat, and Henry the Christmas Cat—all about Henry, a cat of many adventures. And she is the author of the Katie John series of books about a girl growing up in a midwestern family in the 1960’s. The books in order are Katie John, Depend on Katie John, Honestly Katie John!, and Katie John and Heathcliff. Be aware that Katie John grows over the course of the four books from tomboy and president of the “Boy-Hater’s Club” to a fan of Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and a boy admirer. The books were published over fifty years ago, however, and the boy-hating and the romantic elements in the final book are quite innocent and unobjectionable. And Katie John is a lovable and irrepressible character throughout the series.
I have High-Wire Henry and the first three Katie John books in my library, available for check out.

1 thought on “Born August 3rd

  1. Children of Men is far and away my favorite by PD James, too. I haven’t seen the movie, which seems like it may be just as well… I remember the Katie John books but never re-read them as an adult. Thanks for the reminder!

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