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Once We Were Brothers

by Ronald H. Balson

Once We Were Brothers
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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There are currently 26 reader reviews for Once We Were Brothers
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Julie G. (West Hartford, CT) (08/23/13)

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) (08/23/13)

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.
Lynn R. (Wautoma, WI) (08/21/13)

I found this book a very easy read. I enjoyed the characters, the story line and the ending very much. The only reason that I gave this book a 4 rather than a 5 was because some of the escapes from the Nazis were unbelievable. I obviously did not live during that time period of WWII Poland so I don't know exactly how easy or hard some of these situations were, but I just felt that the author simplified in this area. I still would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good historical novel and especially to book clubs.
Sarah W. (Lufkin, TX) (08/21/13)

Once We Were Brothers
Once We Were Brothers is the story of a survivor of World War II and war-torn Poland. It is told in segments as the protagonist relates his story to his attorney. It gives details of the Nazi invasion of a small town in Poland, a family who lives in the town, two boys who grew up together as brothers, in that family, and the different roles they play as adults. The talented author succeeds in a well-written novel, making the reader live the story. This reader was impressed with the historical accuracy of the setting and made me not want to put it down until it was finished. The author, Ronald H. Balson, is a well-traveled attorney, an educator and a writer who became interested in the small villages of Poland making him decide to write this novel.

Once We Were Brothers will make a great read for book clubs.
Laureen S. (Aurora, IL) (08/16/13)

Average Book About the Holocaust
Maybe it's because I just recently finished A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True (which is also about Poland during WWII and one of the best books I have ever read),but I was somewhat disappointed in Once We Were Brothers. I had high expectations for the book of which it fell short especially in the beginning. About three quarters of the way through it did pick up; however, I still felt at the end that I didn't know the characters as well as I had hoped I would. Additionally, I occasionally found portions of the book a little unbelievable with respect to all the escapes and rescues. Overall, I have read better books about this time period, but I have also read worse.
Barbara F. (Saint Louis, MO) (08/13/13)

Please LIsten To Me
Interesting conversation is not always right at hand, but the conversational style of this book hooked me.
If you are interested in the Holocaust, and you are not a purist and do not mind a good story, along with the facts, then historical fiction is a good bet for you.. Angst, rage, honesty, empathy, loyalty and persistence are ever present in the pages.
I would recommend this book for a thoughtful read and I am quite sure book clubs would find plenty to digest and discuss.
Ginny H. (Troutdale, OR) (08/12/13)

Once We Were Brothers
This is an provocative story of two boys who grew up together in Poland prior to World War II. Ben Solomon is Jewish and ends up in a Nazi concentration camp during the war. Otto Piatek lived with Ben's family until his parents felt it was politically dangerous for him to be living with Jews and he chooses a different path as a Nazi. Fast forward 60 years and Ben seeks to prove that a wealthy and revered Jewish benefactor living under an alias is indeed Otto and that he not only destroyed Ben's family but committed many other war crimes. I couldn't put this book down and finished it during the middle of the night.
Cheryl W. (Cassville, MO) (08/11/13)

Once We Were Brothers
Although the premise of the story was interesting, a holocaust survivor filing a civil suit against a former Nazi, I found the story to be predictable and cliche. The dialogue between the characters was not as well written as it could have been. The narrative from the protagonist at times seemed to be descriptions of scenes from Holocaust films. It was an ok book, I wanted to finish it to see if I had the correct prediction of the ending. I did. I would recommend it if someone wanted to read an easy, light historical fiction.

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