Reader's Comments
Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H Balson

Once We Were Brothers

By Ronald H Balson

PBR Book Review:

This story moves back and forth between Nazi occupied Poland and present day and is one that will captive and hold your attention right from the start. The present day portion of this story is a legal thriller bringing to light the importance of justice, regardless of how long it takes. The courtroom drama is terrific and realistic as it should be considering the author is an attorney. The historical fiction portion of this book is heart wrenching and shows what it was like growing up in Poland and surviving the Holocaust. The book tells the story from the perspective of Ben Solomon, a holocaust survivor who accuses a prominent Chicago philanthropist of not just being a former Nazi but the same boy taken in by his parents and raised as his brother. The author keeps the suspense high and the reader guessing right to the end. Is Eliot a former Nazi or is this a case of mistaken identity.

Book Club Talking Points:

This is a book that you can definitely immerse yourself in. Itís emotionally charged dealing with a young German boy who is raised by a Jewish family and what happens when WWII begins and the Nazis occupy Poland. Itís a different take on the Holocaust and as with most books on this subject shows the best and worst of humanity. Suspenseful and well paced, it will appeal to those that like a good legal thriller or Holocaust stories.

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*Other Books by Same Author: Debut novel for this author

*Discussion Questions

1. Does it trouble you to think that remnants of the Nazi era may remain? Of the 600,000 SS members, only a few thousand were actually brought to justice. Most escaped. Some to America. Was Benís quest after all these years, in spite of Rosenzweigís civic contributions, justified? Is there a time to move on or forgive?

2. They say that "First impressions are lasting ones." What were your first impressions of the principal characters? At what point did your opinion change? Why?

3. Was there a part of the story that was particularly moving to you, that stayed with you the longest?

4. Did Once We Were Brothers compliment your understanding of the period? Did the story give you a perspective you didnít have before?

5. Why did the Solomons remain in Zamosc?

6. If the story were to continue, what do think would happen next to each of the characters? How might their lives be affected?

7. From the diaries of survivors, there are many stories of extraordinary heroism, of ordinary people, who in the darkest moments find unbelievable strength and courage. Have you known such people? Where do you think they find such courage?

8. If you had the opportunity to speak to any of the characters at any moment of the story, who would you choose to talk to, what advice would you give and what would you say?

9. Ben was a religious man, as was Catherine. How does a religious person accept the existence of the Holocaust in Godís world? Do you accept Benís explanation?

Book Summary
Berwick Court Publishing - February 15, 2010 Ė 384 pages ĖISBN: 0615351919
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. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon urges attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that Otto 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 that struggles to survive in war-torn Poland. It is also the story of a young lawyer who must face not only a powerful adversary, but her own self-doubts. Two lives, two worlds and sixty years all on course to collide in a fast-paced legal thriller. The author, Ronald H. Balson, is a Chicago trial attorney and educator. His practice has taken him to international venues, including small villages in Poland, which have inspired this novel.
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