In the years following America's terrible Civil War, the fate of the U.S. Marine Corps rests in the capable hands of Zachary O'Hara. A first-generation Irish-American and son of a legendary war hero, O'Hara is the one man who can prevent the dissolution of his father's beloved "Wart-Hogs," thereby ensuring his own future as a valuable member of this proud and vital branch of his nation's armed forces.
But a dark secret weighs heavily on this tormented, dedicated warrior. And the greatest obstacle to his mission is one he never anticipated: Amanda Blanton Kerr, the passionate, obstinate daughter of the ruthless industrialist who's the Corps' fiercest adversary. A beautiful heiress on a mission of her own, her destiny will intertwine with O'Hara's in the tumultuous decades to follow, forcing him to confront the devastating choice no soldier should ever have to make: between his duty and his desire; between his country and his heart.
|Publisher:||Recorded Books, LLC|
About the Author
Internationally acclaimed novelist Leon Uris ran away from home at age seventeen, a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to join the Marine Corps, and he served at Guadalcanal and Tarawa. His first novel, Battle Cry, was based on his own experiences in the Marines, which he revisited in his final novel, O'Hara's Choice. His other novels include the bestsellers Redemption, Trinity, Exodus, QB VII, and Topaz, among others. Leon Uris passed away in June 2003.
Read an Excerpt
O'Hara's Choice LP
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, seventythirty.
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 LP. Copyright © by Leon Uris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
. Hard to follow, didn't keep my interest. I am a Uris fan, but this one I set aside without finishing.
I know that you shouldn't kick a man when he's dead, but Leon Uris' last work is a major disappointment. As a military buff, I was really upset with his nearly total disregard for facts. For instance, he twice mentions the opening of Japan by Admiral Dewey(!) in the 1850s. (It was Commodore Perry in 1854.) He mentions an assault on Fort Sumter in in Charleston harbor in 1863 with the Marines landing at the fort only to be repulsed. (No Marines ever got close to Ft. Sumter in 1963.) He mentions naval officers discussing the building of battle-cruisers with 14' guns in the 1880s. (The idea of the battle-cruiser, let alone 14' guns was not realized until about 1910 or so.) Other factual errors are there. His fact checker must have been asleep or had no idea of the subject matter. Finally, at its end, the author has to tie up all the loose ends quickly with a trite, almost predictable ending. Too bad. Uris' final effort is not a good one.
This story hits on a subject near and dear to me..the Marines. I have read every book Uris has written and this one on very close to the top. Outstanding work and, very sadly, his last. If you loved Battle Cry, you will love this one also. Give it a try!!!
Mr. Uris deserves five stars for this novel. All of the major players were fictitious, but the history was on point as near as I could tell. I did not feel let down at the book's end. The book was not about this great love affair between Zack and Amanda. It was about a person knowing when he is sufficient to the cause whatever the cause may be. I liked the history surrounding the War Between the States and the Marine Corps and how time was linked by generation to generation. Zack's papers and resolutions about world events past, present and future intrigued me. Now, the nasties! The language of the book did not always fit the era of the book. Mr. Uris' use of coarse language has never bothered me until I read this book. Too much 'language!' 'Watch your mouth!' I would say to Mr. Uris if that were possible. There were too many grammatical errors in the book, but my read was never interrupted. As for the other writing mechanics, Mr. Uris is the best in his field and time. Thank you, posthumously, Mr. Uris, for a good read.
I forgot how much I like Uris' writing style in the years since I've read any of his books. I enjoy his kind of history, which is saying a lot because history is very rarely something I want to read about. I have no idea if this story is one-sided or riddled with inaccuracies as some claim about his other books. I know that while I was reading it I was feeling history come alive for me - which was rare and enjoyable.I enjoy his strong and vivid characters, which were as strong in this book as in others. Perhaps stronger than in QB VII and not quite like Ari from Exodus.I will definitely recommend this book even though I haven't included in my must reads.
A Promising Series Cut ShortUris¿ death, three months prior to this book¿s publication, not only cut short the career of a great novelist, but also another sequel.I loved his novels Trinity, Redemption and QBVII. They were great stories spun in the tradition of historical novels. His story-telling ability and character creation communicate the humanity of the age and culture about which he writes.O¿Hara¿s Choice is no exception. Patriotic Duty and family loyalty duel in this tale set in the Gilded Age that followed the U. S. Civil War. Leon Uris was a great writer. He had the ability to create characters who communicate the age and times in which Uris set his novels. The worst part of coming to the end of this book is the nagging awareness that this is the last Uris novel the reader will read.
Leon Uris has been one of my favorite authors, but his final one, O'Hara's Choice, was very disappointing. Its a slow-moving story with little action. The characters seem to be inconsistent in their motivations and the ending of the story was not satisfying. I suspect that Mr. Uris died before he could finish the book and that the published work is an edited partial early draft. If I'm correct, then the publisher and Mr. Uris' estate did not do him justice by publishing it.