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Once We Were Brothers

by Ronald H. Balson

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson X
Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson
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Yma Rosenthal

History Repeats
As the brutality of Russian forces violate the citizenry of Ukraine, I started Once We Were Brothers, a bewildering portrayal of the human spirit in both love and hate. “We must never forget…” seem like empty words as Ukraine stumbles, akin to WWII Europe. This book emphasizes that wars of greed and vanity continue to haunt the human spirit then and now.

Ben Solomon’s ethereal experiences with the souls of the deceased underscores that soul doesn’t leave us even though the body does. Balson reminds us to listen to those voices of the past, if you can hear them. I was touched, even struck, by this spiritualism.

Also, the pacing of the book has a velocity that shot way into the night, leaving me sleepless.

I love this book!
Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews - EXCELLENT
"We must never allow the world to forget." Page 179

That quote says it all, and Ben Solomon vowed to follow through on this edict, and he definitely was following through.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a powerful, well-researched first novel that will have you glued to the pages as Ben tells his story of hatred, horror, and the annihilation of his and other Jewish families during WWII.

Telling the story of the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Poland was stressful for the 83-year-old main character, Ben, but he had to tell it all, and Catherine, his attorney, wanted to be the one to help arrest Elliott/Otto.

Ben knew he knew Elliott Rosenzweig was not really Elliott Rosenzweig, but Otto Piatek, his brother turned Nazi during the war, and the person who was not accused of his horrific war crimes but living in the United States as a billionaire philanthropist.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS moves from present day to WWII in Poland as Ben Solomon tells how his family had to live and survive under Nazi occupation as a Jewish family.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS tells how Otto, a German boy, was left with the Solomon family, a Jewish family, because his mother couldn't take care of him. Otto became part of the Jewish home and loved the Solomons like his own family until his mother showed up and insisted he join the Germans.

Mr. Balson did a fantastic job researching for his first book and detailing every scene. ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a beautiful way to tell a horrible historical story.

You will feel as though you are inside the pages of the book and connecting with the characters both present and past. This book was amazing.

I am always in awe of the strength of the Europeans during this time period. How did they survive and deal with all that was going on especially the Jewish population?

This compelling WWII book is one you will want to read. It is perfectly relayed, phenomenal, and a part of history that again reveals what WWII was about. I finished this book in ONE day, and that is unusual for me.

Don't miss reading ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS. I definitely needed tissues a number of times and especially at the end and definitely when they told of the freeing of Buchenwald because my father was one of the Americans that freed this concentration camp.

This book is given an unequivocal 5/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Kathy

Great historical fiction
What an exciting, heart-wrenching book! I have read many books about the Holocaust and enjoyed the perspective of this story that begins with the lives of Jews in Poland before the Nazi invasion. This was a well written book containing lots of interesting history. I would recommend this to anyone that is interested in this period of time and who enjoys a legal thriller.
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

Once We Were Brothers
I made my comment halfway through the book. I have finished it and if I could give it higher than a 5, I would. It's been a long time since I've read a book that brought out so much emotion in me. Love, hate, compassion, grief, shock. I did not want this book to end, but I loved the ending. Looking forward to this author's next book. Thank you for a wonderful read.
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.

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