on February 18, 2003
Leon Uris's 1961 novel about the Warsaw Uprising is a timeless story of the Jewish struggle for survival against overpowering Nazi oppression. "Mila 18" presents a cast of fictional characters who appear in historical places and events of occupied Poland during WWII. Historical figures -- Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann -- are referenced frequently, but provide no dialogue in the novel. The book's title refers to the address of the Jewish resistance headquarters, and the place of much of the action and confrontation in the latter half of the story.
Like other Uris novels, "Mila 18" takes some energy to plow through. Given the gravity of the subject, it might be among the most difficult of his books to read. But the effort is well worthwhile. You'll not only be rewarded with powerful storytelling, but you'll also be awakened to one of the great struggles that occurred during the dark years of the 20th century. And Leon Uris will probably be remembered as one of the most important voices of this struggle.
on December 28, 1999
Leon Uris is the undisputed master of fictional historical novels. Exodus, Mila 18 and Armageddon give us a view of WW-II that no other author has been able to bring to light. His characters are ordinary people set in historical times and situations. He brings you into the ghetos of Warsaw where the Nazi regime was planning the systematic removal of the entire Jewish population. For the first time in history, the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto said no! They fought back with anything and everything they had. The realization that men fought German Panzers with bricks is one of the bravest resistance movements anyone has ever seen. If historical drama, told with a personal touch is your liking, this is truly one of the best works ever. Read it, and your life will change.
on July 19, 2000
Mila 18 is my other favorite Uris book (besides Trinity). The way he manages to convey the build-up of pre-war tension and then chart the inexorable Nazi regime and their persecution of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto is incredible. The one warning I would give to anyone reading this book is that you become so caught up in the saga that it is a little difficult to return to "real life". You WILL get depressed - and yet the power and hope Uris embues in you for belief in human nature and man's ability to survive is wonderful. Have lots of Kleenex available.
on July 15, 2001
"Engrossing" is the one word I would use to describe Mila 18. Once I was into it, I could barely put it down long enough to tend to other necessary things... like eating and sleeping. I lost weight! I became skittish! And not since reading War and Peace have I felt so riveted to a story. Uris digs down deep into the soul-stretching time of Nazi terror in Eastern Europe, a period of history I am always interested in learning more about. His book is filled with non-stop action, it is tense, it is nerve-wracking. There is a scene where several of the ghetto prisoners are in a desperate scramble along an angled rooftop, and I felt that if one of them had slipped I surely would've fallen off my chair and landed with him amidst the ravenous guards in the courtyard down below. Their reward for NOT falling is to be trapped end-to-end along a single beam in the rafters of that same rooftop for more than a day and a night, unable to make a sound beyond breathing, while rats knaw on them, and the guards furiously stomp about just above their heads, longing to exterminate them as though they were rabid animals. While plumbing these almost unbelievable (but sadly, too true) depths of human cruelty, hatred, and injustice against fellow man, this book also scales the heights of human courage, loyalty, and dignity. And running throughout Mila 18 is the interwoven story of romantic love during perilous times. Because of the peril, some loves are lost and they die; others are found, they are born and they grow.
As the resistance forces in the ghetto begin to realize that they cannot stave off the Nazi onslaught indefinitely, the desperation increases... and one man on the other side of the wall (the reporter Christopher de Monti) willingly enters the ghetto. The woman he loves is there. But even beyond this, ever since the Nazi Horst von Epp ridiculed Chris by telling him that he represented "all the moralists in the world who have condoned genocide by the conspiracy of silence" Chris has known that he has a historical role to play inside the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto. He risks his life to become the one who will retrieve and publish the meticulous hidden journals that have been kept up by the chronicler Alexander Brandel. In this he succeeds.
It is a remarkable fact of history that while all of Poland fell to the Nazi power in less than a month, this rabble army of Jewish resistance within the ghetto (lacking any decent weapon) held at bay the world's mightiest military power for 42 days and 42 nights! In the end, there are precious few survivors of Mila 18. But this is not a book about death. It is a book about life. <Nephesh!>
on June 22, 1999
Mila 18 was one of the best novels I have ever read. As common as this phrase may sound, this novel is anything but uncommon. Trying to reach an audience that has little, if any, knowledge of the actual non-fiction events that led to the destruction of the Jewery of Warsaw, Poland is a monumental task within itself. As for someone who has read a considerable amount on the actual events that led to the uprising of the Jews of Warsaw, this work of fiction symbolizes the sheer humanity and will to live that every fighter posessed in a wonderful, historical manner. On a recent trip to Poland I found myself searching for the places Uris described so often in his book, only to be confronted with the disdain of many Warsaw Poles who wish to bury the existence of nearly 300,000 Jewish inhabitants (pre-war estimate) and shy away from the memory of the largest European Jewish community's destruction. The strangest thing about Poland is that children, when trying to insult one another, or adults, wishing to claim one soccer team's dominance over another's, use the word "Jew" to signify cowardice. Mila 18 is one work of fiction that should be read by the people of Poland as well as those in the United States in order to see the significance of struggle and to understand who the real cowards are. Finally, as an important side note, once you pick up this novel, the thought of putting it down will not occurr to the reader until the last page is turned. It was; it is an excellent work of historical fiction that is a must read.
on December 13, 1999
I first read Mila 18 when I was 10 years old. It touched me so deeply that I continue to read it once a year. Emotionally, it can be difficult to read, perhaps more so for me as I come from an Eastern European Jewish family who lost much of her family in the Holocaust. However, it is most definitely worth reading. Within pages, you feel that you know the characters, and you begin to care deeply about them and their lives. Leon Uris did not glamorize the people or events- one heroine, a married woman with two children, is carrying on an illicit affair- but clearly defines them as heros in an impossible situation. This novel is well- researched and well- written, and will touch your soul.
on March 14, 2000
At age 12, my mother pulled this book out of a Barnes & Noble bookshelf and handed it to me. She told me that she had loved this book when she was young, and I probably would too. I am 13 and have read everything from Tolstoy's War & Peace to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, but this remains my all time favorite. I am not athletic, so I spend most of my spare time reading, and I have read this at least five times cover to cover. It is extremely touching, and the first time I read it I cried. The Diary of Anne Frank and Number the Stars are books recommended to people my age, but they didn't even compare to this. I felt like I knew the characters, and I could see each scene as if I watched a movie, but I also knew the character's thoughts and sympathized with them. The dialogue and actions are dramatic and exciting. It arose in me such hatred of the Nazis that it took my breath away. It was truly an amazing experience. This book is a definite MUST!
on November 23, 2004
I read this book at the recommendation of a friend, who said it was the best book she'd ever read. I was a little sceptical, having read some of Uris' other works and liked them but was not thrilled with them.
Overall the book gives brilliant insight in the first person to the Jewish experience prior to the entry of the U.S. in WWII. The first half of the book is dedicated to character development and is done so well that you do not easily forget who is who after meeting them the first time. The characters are believable and their actions are completely within their character and philosophy. This section of the book also gives insight into the different factions of Jews and how they differed from each other on the subject of a Jewish State. The info. is remarkably accurate historically and is woven into the story with the same literary prose that the characters are presented.
The second half of the book is dedicated to the Jewish experience within the Warsaw ghetto, which was the largest of the Jewish ghettos in Europe and which saw the largest loss of Jewish life. While the first half of the book is both necessary and interesting in a factual sort of way, the second half moves quickly in its action and is hard to put down. One can envision thousands of Jews standing in lines waiting to be shipped out on trains like cattle to the death camps, or sloshing through the filth in the sewers in a unlikely break to freedom. The imagery never ceases and is probably why a movie could never do this story justice.
The only disappointment I had was that Funk never got his due (like many Nazi's of that time). Because of the foreshadowing earlier in the book I had expected a more bloody outcome for this character. I would also have expected a more dramatic ending for Andrei, rather than his end being left mostly to the imagination, although his demise is foreshadowed from almost the first chapter (those who live by the sword die by the sword).
Ultimately, this book has made it to my top 10 best reads, which include such works as The Brothers Karamazov, Dr. Zhivago and The Grapes of Wrath.
on April 8, 2005
This is a great novle dealing with the Polish Ghetto during WW 2. I think Polanski should have turned this novel into his rendering of the Polish Jewish Ghetto. I admit I am not Jewish, but Uris's novel are so detailed and in your face. I thought he did a masterful job or slowly building the tension up as we aare presented facts that actually occurred, yet we had a front row seat. When you hear about how Poland was invaded or how people were imprisioned on the news it is hard to grasp. With Mila 18 you are in the middle of the action, and you can hear, see, smell and feel the pain that went on there. I strongly urged to have people who love war novels that deal with extraordinary men under extraordinary circumstances read this post haste. Think about it, people who were going to die in the camps, now fighting the Nazi's with nothing to lose. Many of the Nazi soldiers knew this and didn't want to die,many were terrified of the Jewish rebels for over a month. A MONTH! Great Dramatic read. My only contention was that I could never really warm up to any of the main charactors on a buddy buddy level.
on March 14, 2010
I was going through my library recently (with eight book cases filled with books, which I have collected over 50 years), it was a time consuming process. And I discovered Leon Uris' 1961 novel, Mila 18, which I purchased on June 16, 1961! I decided to read the book again -- and I loved it as much as I did back in the day!
I was a teenager then and I was profoundly affected by the story of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Though I was raised as a Catholic, my father was Jewish and I realized that if I had lived in Europe during World War II, most likely I would never have survived.
At the time I attended public high school in Los Angeles, Californa, we learned absolutely nothing about the Holocaust (this has changed over the years -- now many American schools teach young students about the horrors of that era).
The story is reviting -- I loved the overdrawn characters both villains and heroes and those inbetween. Andrei and Gabriela make for a wonderful hero and heroine and their love story is touching and believable. The build up to the war and the subsequent German establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto and the destruction of Poland's Jews is told with intelligence and passion.
Bring your handkerchief when you start to read this marvelous book because you will need it! Though the story is a tragedy of monumental proportion, it is also a tale of hope. Imagine people knowing success is impossible but still deciding to rise up against their oppressors! What courage! What bravery! What emotional passion!