Eli's promise

Ronald H. Balson

Book - 2020

"A "fixer" in a Polish town during World War II, his betrayal of a Jewish family, and a search for justice 25 years later-by the winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Eli's Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras-Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring streng...th of family bonds. 1939: Eli Rosen lives with his wife Esther and their young son in the Polish town of Lublin, where his family owns a construction company. As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Eli's company is Aryanized, appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski-an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin's subjugated residents. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise or will their relationship end in betrayal and tragedy? 1946: Eli resides with his son in a displaced persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany hoping for a visa to America. His wife has been missing since the war. One man is sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas; might he know what has happened to her? 1965: Eli rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is on a mission. With patience, cunning, and relentless focus, he navigates unfamiliar streets and dangerous political backrooms, searching for the truth. Powerful and emotional, Ronald H. Balson's Eli's Promise is a rich, rewarding novel of World War II and a husband's quest for justice"--

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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2020.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
343 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781250271464
1250271460
Main Author
Ronald H. Balson (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Balson returns to the subject of his first three historical novels: Holocaust survivors and the stories of their lives during and after the war. Focusing on Eli Rosen, a Polish brickyard owner, Balson moves the narrative back and forth between Lublin, Poland, during the German occupation; an American-run displaced-persons camp in Germany immediately after the war; and the Albany Park neighborhood in northwest Chicago in the mid-sixties. With the self-serving help of a scurrilous war profiteer, Max Poleski, Eli is able to keep his family, including wife Esther and son Isaac, out of the camps until, inevitably, Max betrays him. We know that Eli and Isaac survive, but, like them, we remain in suspense as to the fate of Esther. As Eli searches for his wife among the one million displaced persons in Europe, he also tracks Max, determined to bring him to justice. Max's trail leads to Chicago, where crooked politicians are deep into another war-profiteering scheme, this time involving Vietnam. Balson juggles between his three stories effectively, writing with great emotion but without overt melodrama, always aware of the tragic ways in which history repeats itself. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1939, Eli Rosen and his father Jakob operate a construction firm in Lublin, Poland, respected by all. Then the Germans invade and life grows steadily hellish. Years before, they'd hired Maximilian "Max" Poleski, giving him a job when he sorely needed one. Now it's his turn, a non-Jew with connections to the invaders, to help them. This book is about Max's treachery and Eli's search to find him and make him pay for it. The chapters shuttle among three times and places: 1939–41, Lublin: Max's betrayal of the Rosens and the Rosens' disappearance into the camps; 1945–47, various displaced-person camps, Eli's survival and hunt for Max; 1965–66, Chicago, the same quest 20 years later, entwined with the tale of a corrupt congressman. Terrible things happen but somehow never feel quite real: The characters don't have texture. The Nazi villains are monstrous and Max is a monster, but the Americans, bad and good guys both, are cardboard and the plot in this section of the book veers steadily toward melodrama. VERDICT Balson (The Girl from Berlin) has written on this subject with success, but this time, it doesn't come off. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/20.]—David Keymer, Cleveland Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The National Jewish Book Award-winning author of The Girl From Berlin explores the human cost of war and the consequences of survival in the story of a Polish business owner who seeks justice for a wartime betrayal. 60,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A "fixer" in a Polish town during World War II, his betrayal of a Jewish family, and a search for justice 25 years later-by the winner of the National Jewish Book Award. Eli's Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras-Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds. 1939: EliRosen lives with his wife Esther and their young son in the Polish town of Lublin, where his family owns a construction company. As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Eli's company is Aryanized, appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski-an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin's subjugated residents. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise or will their relationship end in betrayal and tragedy? 1946: Eli resides with his son in a displaced persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany hoping for a visa to America. His wife has been missing since the war. One man is sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas; might he know what has happened to her? 1965: Eli rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is on a mission. With patience, cunning, and relentless focus, he navigates unfamiliar streets and dangerous political backrooms, searching for the truth. Powerful and emotional, Ronald H. Balson's Eli's Promise is a rich, rewarding novel of World War II and a husband's quest for justice"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"National Jewish Book Award winner Ron Balson returns triumphantly with Eli’s Promise, a captivating saga of the Holocaust and its aftermath spanning decades and continents. Readers will not be able to put this book down, but will turn the pages compulsively with heart in throat, eager to learn the fate of the Rosen family. Balson’s meticulous historical detail, vivid prose and unforgettable characters further solidify his place among the most esteemed writers of historical fiction today."—Pam Jenoff, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lost Girls of Paris A "fixer" in a Polish town during World War II, his betrayal of a Jewish family, and a search for justice 25 years later—by the winner of the National Jewish Book Award.Eli's Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras—Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds.1939: Eli Rosen lives with his wife Esther and their young son in the Polish town of Lublin, where his family owns a construction company. As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Eli’s company is Aryanized, appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski—an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin’s subjugated residents. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise or will their relationship end in betrayal and tragedy?1946: Eli resides with his son in a displaced persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany hoping for a visa to America. His wife has been missing since the war. One man is sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas; might he know what has happened to her?1965: Eli rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is on a mission. With patience, cunning, and relentless focus, he navigates unfamiliar streets and dangerous political backrooms, searching for the truth. Powerful and emotional, Ronald H. Balson's Eli's Promise is a rich, rewarding novel of World War II and a husband’s quest for justice.