Cover image for O'Hara's choice : a novel
Title:
O'Hara's choice : a novel
Author:
Uris, Leon, 1924-2003.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : HarperCollins, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
394 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060568733
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Fifty years after his first novel, Battle Cry, took the world by storm, Leon Uris returns to the topic that first inspired him to write books that captivate, educate, and thrill -- the Marine Corps.

In the years following the Civil War, first-generation Irish-American Zachary O'Hara, son of a legendary Marine and a force of a man in his own right, finds himself playing a critical role in the very future of the Marines. If he can persuade the Secretary of the Navy that the Marines are more crucial than ever to America's safety and security -- all the while hefting a heavier secret weight in his heart -- he'll save the corps and make his career.

But there's an obstacle in his path that this warrior had not planned on. Amanda Blanton Kerr, the daughter of a ruthless industrialist, is a woman on a mission of her own; passionate, obstinate, and whip-smart, she's an heiress poised to blaze a trail for her sex.

O'Hara's Choice is the story of the inevitable collision of these two handsome, fighting spirits. Getting their souls' desire could jeopardize everything they -- and their parents before them -- scraped and struggled to achieve.

Duty to country, love of family, and a tormented passion intertwine in this latest epic by Leon Uris, international bestselling author of such classics as Exodus, Trinity, and Battle Cry. A riveting, sweeping tale in inimitable Uris style, O'Hara's Choice is this master of the historical novel at his most brilliant.


Author Notes

Writer Leon Uris was born in Baltimore on August 3, 1924. He dropped out of school to join the Marines during World War II, but later returned to attend Baltimore City College.

His first novel, Battle Cry (1953), was based on his time as a marine. He followed it with a series of New York Times bestsellers, including The Angry Hills, Exodus, Topaz, and Trinity. QB VII was adapted into a TV mini-series starring Ben Gazzara and Anthony Hopkins. Uris has also written non-fiction (including Ireland: A Terrible Beauty and Jerusalem: Song of Songs) and screenplays (Battle Cry and Gunfight at the O. K. Corral). He has won the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award from the Irish-American Society and the Scopus Award from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This new work by the author of, most famously among his previous novels, the popular and filmed Exodus (1958), which focused on the founding years of Israel, turns out to be Uris' posthumous novel, for he died in late June of this year. Characteristically for him, it is a visit to historical times; and characteristically of him, historical facts are not seamlessly, fluidly integrated into the story, but, rather, give the narrative a patchwork feel. But there is certainly a compelling quality to the story itself. In general terms, the novel concerns a vital period in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps. Specifically, its characters are the men whom Sergeant Paddy O'Hara saved from the jaws of death during various battles of the Civil War. Sergeant O'Hara was the second marine to be awarded the newly created Congressional Medal of Honor, and every year the men he saved hold a reunion. The year now is 1888, and the group meets with an important item on their agenda: the very future of the corps appears to be in jeopardy. They turn to Paddy O'Hara's son for the corps' salvation, and the plot takes off from there. Despite a leaden prose style, Uris achieves an effective level of urgency in his storytelling to maintain the interest of readers who will seek out the latest (and, presumably, last) work of a popular writer. BradHooper.


Publisher's Weekly Review

With this story of a heroic 19th-century Irish-American Marine, the long career of recently deceased bestselling author Uris (Mila 18; Exodus) concludes. Zachary O'Hara, son of a legendary Civil War hero, is the protagonist of Uris's epic adventure, which ranges from Washington, D.C., to Newport, R.I., and from the Civil War to the end of the 19th century. O'Hara grows up on Marine lore and joins the corps as soon as he can, earning a reputation in his own right with hard work and natural ability. When Major Boone affords him the opportunity of a lifetime a chance to save the corps and gain a prominent role in its future he jumps on it. Zach's career takes off and so does his love life, as he falls for the beautiful and headstrong Amanda Kerr. From the outset, though, the relationship is opposed by Zach's Marine superiors and Amanda's stubborn industrialist father, who has other plans for her future. But Amanda suddenly and inexplicably metamorphoses into a cunning businesswoman and pragmatically decides to abandon Zach (whom she continues to pine after). From here, the plot turns aren't plausible. Uris usually connects the many layers of his stories seamlessly; as this novel draws to a conclusion, however, the hasty revelation of family secrets leads to a forced, emotionally unsatisfying ending. Anyone seeking a compelling read should look to Uris's previous works, as this one is certainly the exception to the rule in a prodigious career marked by phenomenal storytelling. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Uris's final novel (the author died June 21) is a tale set in the late 19th century when there were efforts to eliminate the U.S. Marine Corps. While there are moments of excellence, overall the novel is slow moving and curiously lacking in action for a military story. It also lacks focus. For instance, is it the story of a Marine Corps fighting for its existence? If so, Uris takes unnecessary liberties with historical facts or has simply made inexplicable mistakes (why fabricate a giant "Vermont" class of battleships with 14-inch guns when none would exist for more than a decade?). Or is it the story of a romance between young Marine Zach O'Hara, who has to choose between the Corps, and the wealthy, lovely Amanda Kerr? Or is it a commentary on the repressed sexuality, racial injustices, and economic inequalities of the time? Uris was a former marine who had early success with Battle Cry, a novel of Marines in World War II, but this is a disappointing finale.-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Excerpts

Excerpts

O'Hara's Choice Chapter One Paddy's Wart-Hogs 1888 -- Prichard's Inn The Royal Society of Paddy O'Hara's Wart-Hogs were the ugliest and most vile men to ever wear the uniform of United States Marines. They were molded out of old, stiff, cracked leather. The Wart-Hogs were an exclusive brotherhood with no pro-vision at inception for perpetuation. There were about eighteen charter members, no one knew the exact number, all men whose lives had been saved in battle through the gallantry of Paddy O'Hara in three, maybe four, separate Civil War actions. For many years after the War, all who could gathered for an annual donnybrook. As time moved on, many of the reunions took place at graveside and the society grew more exclusive. But no Wart-Hog ever died in the poorhouse. They were bound by the most powerful of all ties, that of men and their comrades in a war. The Wart-Hog doors were always open to other Wart-Hogs, but they were scattered and burdened with family life and other traumas, so that meetings became occasional and by chance. Only three remained in the Corps. However, it appeared that the rendezvous at Prichard's was by design. Prichard's Inn & Tavern stood on the Post Road in Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, a most convenient watering hole. Master Gunnery Sergeant Wally Kunkle was first to arrive by horseback from Quantico down the pike. The Corps had a piece of land there and had established a small, convenient station near the Capitol, where they formed up new units, or housed an overflow from Washington. Quantico had become a nice rest spot and transit center. Master Gunnery Sergeant Kunkle had been on sea duty and a member of the contingent that ran the Germans out of Samoa. Kunkle had not been home in three years. Well, he actually didn't have a home. The Gunny wore his forty-odd years well and he cut quite the figure as he rode up to the inn at Prichard's. When the stable boy had seen to the horse's comfort, he came to the Gunny's room and poured buckets of hot water over him in a big galvanized tub to wash away the road dust. Kunkle then repaired to the common room with the large fireplace in the pub and allowed himself to be overtaken by nostalgia. 1840s -- Philadelphia Wally was the middle child of nine kids, son of a German immigrant who worked as a blacksmith in the Philadelphia police stable. The family lived on a cobblestone alley in a squeezed row cottage in South Philly. During one particularly dirty winter, Wally's mother and an infant sister died of the throat disease. The children, save Wally, were scattered to relatives, mostly on farms in western Pennsylvania. Wally was a quiet, ornery, angry, fierce kid, and when the authorities came for him, he hid. He was finally taken to a humorless Lutheran orphanage, where his failure to bend to discipline led to corporal punishment. Wally had a fight a day, sometimes more. After a year of it, he ran away from the orphanage and begged his father to let him remain hidden in the cottage to which he had returned. The tiny house no longer had the siren lure of baking bread, as it did when Ma was alive, but had deteriorated into a home for rats drawn by the smell and taste of beer. Wally spent his time near the navy yard on the Delaware River, where street urchins hung out, and picked up penny work doing laundry and running errands for the sailors. It was a highly territorial environment, where one used his fists to stake a claim to work a particular barracks. Wally fought his way to the barrack housing a Marine platoon. Some of the Marines had been heroes in the wars against Mexico and the Seminole Indians. There were shoes and brass buttons and buckles to be shined and fresh hay to be changed in the bedding and a potbellied stove to be fed and cleaned. And clean he did. The Marines had far fewer bedbugs than the sailors. Corporal Paddy O'Hara, an Irish immigrant who had survived the terrible potato famine, became Wally's big brother and protector. Wally made it the best job in the navy yard. The Marines were generous with smokes, the currency of the day. On payday, illegal boxing matches were held beyond the main gates. Marines, sailors, shipyard workers, and visiting crews all had their champions in bare-knuckle pugilism. Before the men went to the pit, kids held preliminary fights for pennies tossed into the ring, and an occasional nickel. For Wally Kunkle at thirteen, this was a bonanza. After a particularly bloody match, there was sometimes as much as a dollar to be divided, seventy-thirty. As a fighter, Wally Kunkle was cursed with a special gift. He could absorb punches and never go down. His talent, born in the alleys of South Philly and honed at the orphanage, won a lot of beer money for the Marines who bet on him. Wally ran out of competition his own age and size and had to take on bigger kids. "Young Ironsides," the Marines called him, and "Boilerplate" and "Kid Granite Jaw." Even Paddy O'Hara was unable to get Wally to stop fighting heavier and heavier opponents. Then the inevitable happened. Wally took on an opponent thirty pounds heavier than himself. He showed the courage of a little bull, but absorbed a fearsome beating. Corporal O'Hara pleaded, in vain, for him to throw in the towel when a sudden change of fortune occurred. Wally's opponent became so exhausted throwing punches that he could no longer lift his arms or catch his breath. And that was that. After laying out the bullyboy, Wally collapsed. Corporal O'Hara lifted Wally in his arms and carried him back to the barrack and declared his boxing career over ... O'Hara's Choice . Copyright © by Leon Uris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from O'Hara's Choice by Leon Uris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.