Advance reader reviews of Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson.

Once We Were Brothers

By Ronald H. Balson

Once We Were Brothers
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013,
    400 pages.

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There are currently 23 member reviews
for Once We Were Brothers
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  • Barbara (Cherry Hill, NJ)


    Once We Were Brothers
    The self published version of the book was recommended to me earlier this year, and I didn't really want to read another Holocaust book. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. The opening premise of a Nazi possibly hiding in America as a Jew was a new twist. In addition to the historical fiction, the legal and romantic aspects kept my interest.
    The current day dialogue is a little choppy, but the WWII sections about Poland are written in a precise and deliberate manner, and this historical background was enlightening.

    I would rank this in my top 5 Holocaust book picks for those written in the past decade. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to bookclubs.
  • Janice C. (Hayward, CA)


    Once We Were Brothers
    This book is so well written. Such a beautiful story of love and caring during such a horrendous tragedy. I love the characters. What a great book club discussion it would make. It should be required reading for High School students.
  • Leah L. (Lawrence, NY)


    Truth vs. Evil
    Articulate, intelligent, tenacious, loving and lovable, Holocaust survivor Ben accuses Elliot Rosenzweig, a well known Chicagoan leader, of being a former Nazi officer. According to Ben, his family in Poland gave Elliot, then known as Otto, a home. The Solomons raised, fed and education Otto who morphed into a perpetrator of evil, killing many Jews who crossed his path. The wealthy Elliot launches an offensive, denying the accusations. Ben chooses a young but troubled female attorney who, impressed with Ben's principles and values, values her heart, professionally and personally. Once We Were Brothers is an enjoyable, quick-read book that is chock full of factual history about one of the bleakest periods known to mankind. Although predictable, the end is nonetheless heartwarming and uplifting.
  • Barbara P. (Hixson, TN)


    Once We Were Brothers
    As a lover of historical fiction, I found this novel to be excellent. This debut author did a really good job of developing his characters. I felt I knew the main characters; Ben, Catherine and Liam as if they were friends or colleagues. The story had me fully absorbed and I had trouble putting the book down once I started it. I would highly recommend this book.
  • Eileen L. (Danvers, MA)


    Eloquent and authenic account of the Polish experience
    I love this book! It is one of those rare books that you hate to put down and think about until you can pick it up again. It is a riveting account of the Nazi occupation of Poland, the horrors that defined that time, and the incredible spirit of survivors. Ben Soloman is at once tragic and triumphant and the retelling of his story is nothing short of mesmerizing. While some of the peripheral charactars and relationships are a bit shallow, the book is about Ben's journey, and that is so superbly written that it overshadows any shortcomings the book has. A truly wonderful read!
  • Julie G. (West Hartford, CT)


    Once We Were Brothers
    I very much wanted to like this book. The premise was good, and the author clearly knew a lot about his topic - both the holocaust and the law. However, the writing style was amateurish and I often felt that I was getting a lesson in either history or the practice of law. I didn't find the characters either real or appealing and although the ending of the story was engrossing, I think many other books have covered this topic far more compellingly.
  • Linda G. (Walnut Creek, CA)


    A Literary Historical Thriller
    "Once We Were Brothers" is both an historical mystery and an enduring love story. The novel tells the story of young Ben Solomon, who lives in Poland during the time prior to the second World War. In time, the family is requested to take in a young German boy, just Ben's age who quickly becomes a member of the family; with Ben himself Otto becomes much like a brother. In time, Ben finds himself falling for the love of his life, a young Jewish girl whose father is the local doctor. In time it becomes evident that the changes facing Germany will soon begin to affect their lives in Poland. Especially will the Jews be affected, but his new 'brother' promises he will do all he can to help them.

    In 2005 Ben comes across a man he is just certain is his lost 'brother' Otto, who had become a high ranking Nazi officer during the war. But is it really Otto? How can it be him, when this man also is on the search for this former Nazi officer? And what happened to Hannah? Why does Ben continue to carry on conversations with her, as if she were right there next to him, yet no one else can see her?

    "Once We Were Brothers" is a thrilling read through out, until it's page-turning, tear jerking ending! (Have some Kleenex handy!) I will enjoy presenting this when it comes out, both as gifts and as a book club selection.
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