Battle Cry is a fictional account of a “gang of beardless youths” who enlist after Pearl Harbor and are molded into a Marine “battalion of invincible boys” under the leadership of Maj. Sam Huxley.
The narrator, known only as Mac, tells mainly about his boys who on first sight are, “an anemic Indian, a music lover, a lumberjack with ten thumbs, a farmer, a feathermerchant, …the All American boy… [and] a renegade trouble maker.”
Most of the novel is boring. The men drill and hike, drink and hike, play poker and hike, talk about women and hike faster, gripe louder and hike even faster and further with heavier loads.
They curse Huxley for their misery and idolize him for never asking more of them than he demands of himself. They take pride in being “Huxley’s Whores.”
Battle Cry was Leon M. Uris’s first published novel. It suffers from the usual problem of first novels—insufficient practice—and the usual problem of historical novels: making the story fit the history.
A battalion is too many characters to make a good story. Novelists ought to follow Marine Corp’s procedure and look for a few good men.
Battle Cry also does what a war novel should do: it makes the non-boring parts of war so horrific readers wish for boredom.Battle Cry by Leon M. Uris Avon Books paperback edition, 2005 692 pages 1953 bestseller # 4 My grade C