Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

When I received the pitch for Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson, I was ecstatic.  My mom had recently read this novel (having been coerced by a B&N employee to give it a chance) and raved about it.  I was glad to have the opportunity to read the book for myself.

And it didn’t disappoint.  I read this book in less than 24 hours, having picked it up one morning and finishing it the next.  I actually could not put this book down.  Once We Were Brothers was addicting!

Ben Solomon charges into a prestigious event in order to confront remarkable citizen Elliot Rosenzweig of being a Nazi named Otto Piatek.  The accusation is out of line, as Elliot has an Auschwitz tattoo and is a Holocaust survivor.

But as Ben’s attorney, Catherine, dives more deeply into Ben’s story, she realizes that things may not be as they seem.

Is Elliot Rosenzweig a former Nazi?  Is he really Otto Piatek?  And even if he is, can anyone prove it?

I love how Ben explains his story during the Holocaust without dumbing it down for the readers, while Catherine (the lawyer) plays the voice of the average person who knows little or a normal amount about the Holocaust.  She asks questions the readers might need the answers to, which is a good way to go about writing so that the readers (and the characters) are informed.

The only drawback to the story that I found was that as Ben is telling his story, he uses a LOT of direct quotes.  Can he REALLY remember everything that his family members and so on actually said?  Maybe he can, because he really does seem to, at times, be transferred back in time to the scene in question.  Either way, it didn’t detract from the story in the least, just gave me something to think about.

Once We Were Brothers is a moving tale about obtaining justice no matter how distant the crime.  It is a book that I highly recommend.

Do you think that war criminals have the right to live the remainder of their lives in peace, or should they have proper justice served?


Interested in getting your own copy?  Today’s the day the book is released!!!

Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.


31 thoughts on “Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

  1. This sounds like a very interesting book, Rebecca – thanks for flagging it. And the cover is beautifully designed (I’m always attracted by a good cover!). This is always a terrifically hard subject to read about, but it looks as if Balson has taken a clever angle on the issue, and I like the idea of slowly peeling back the layers to discover the truth of the story. I’ll have to watch out for this on its UK release…


  2. I’m the mom mentioned above. I was at the B&N in Naples, FL ordering The 3rd Generation & Beyond when the gal at the help desk recommended Once We Were Brothers. Honestly, I was just being polite and bought the book. After having it sit around for a few weeks, I decided to read it. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it, but it caught me totally off guard. I could not put Once We Were Brothers down until I finished it. The book was moving and riveting. I had my doubts as to if Elliot was Otto and if Ben really did remember things as they were. I have recommended this book to anyone who will listen and was thrilled when I heard that Rebecca was approached independently to review this fabulous book.


  3. I think author’s having characters find information out in the course of normal conversation is a nice way to avoid info dumps but still fill you in! I’m glad that you liked this book as much as you hoped you would 🙂


  4. That’s a very difficult question, and I believe very apt at the moment. I don’t know that I’m in the right position to answer :/ I like that there’s a character who provides the reader with information, that sounds like a good way round the potential info-dump problem. Regarding direct quotes, that seems to be happening a lot lately and yes, pretty hard to believe! If prefaced with ‘this is basically what they said’ it’s not so bad.


    • Thank you. I end up reading a good amount of Holocaust fiction/nonfiction because it is something that I find interesting to read about as well. It’s just so unbelievable to me that there are Holocaust deniers still out there when the Nazis did such a fabulous job of documenting EVERYTHING.


  5. Pingback: Mini Reviews for the New Year: Pulphead, Once We Were Brothers and Princesses Behaving Badly | River City Reading

  6. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads
    up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same


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