Once we were brothers

Ronald H. Balson

Book - 2013

"The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust. Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, "the butcher of Zamosc." Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart... to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he accused the right man? Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland and a young love that incredibly endures through the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit"--

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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Published
New York : St. Martin's Griffin 2013.
Edition
First Edition
Language
English
Item Description
A different version of this book was previously published by Berwick Court Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois"--T.p. verso.
Physical Description
394 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781250048127
1250048125
Main Author
Ronald H. Balson (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

This self-published debut novel, with more than 100,000 copies sold, has now been picked up by a major publisher, and it's not hard to see why. The story follows two boys, Jewish Ben Solomon and German Otto Piatek, who were raised together in the small Polish town of Zamosc during the 1930s. Once the Nazis invade, however, Otto takes a position in the German army, where, the Solomon family hopes, he will prove to be an asset to his Jewish friends and neighbors. But Piatek betrays them in the most heinous fashion. Some 60 years later, 83-year-old Ben Solomon attempts to kill a well-known Chicago philanthropist, claiming that he is, in fact, Otto. He pours his story out to lawyer Catherine Lockhart, convincing her to sue in civil court for reparations. Balson does a number of things superbly: he crafts a highly readable plotline and makes great use of the Chicago backdrop. But he also stumbles: Catherine seems overly naive about the Holocaust, and Ben's quest for revenge has fantastical overtones. Still, many will enjoy this gripping novel for its narrative drive and its emotional storytelling. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The phenomenal triumph of lawyer-author John Grisham's legal thrillers has spawned surprisingly few successful emulators; however, Chicago attorney Balson's first novel, while featuring a young lawyer heroine, Catherine Lockhart, who sees her bar admission as a license to further justice, is no simple imitation of Grisham's entertaining potboilers. Cut from a better grade of cloth, it tells the haunting backstory tale of two boys, one Jewish and one a budding Nazi, caught in what became the death-scarred bloodlands of Eastern Europe divided between Stalin and Hitler. What happens when the boys meet again, 60 years later, launches a story that will not let readers go until the last page, long after they discover what occurred in Poland all those years ago. VERDICT A self-publishing best seller, this novel is uplifting and moving, intelligently written and featuring historically accurate context and an unusual insight into human character and motivations. Highly recommended for all readers. [With a 100,000-copy first printing.]—Vicki Gregory, Sch. of Information, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa [Page 82]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust. Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, "the butcher of Zamosc." Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he accused the right man? Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland and a young love that incredibly endures through the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust.Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser is convinced he is right and engages attorney Catherine Lockhart to bring Rosenzweig to justice. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's own family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has Solomon accused the right man?Once We Were Brothers is Ronald H. Balson's compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.