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Once We Were Brothers | [Ronald H. Balson]

Once We Were Brothers

Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 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 60 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.

©2009 Ronald H. Balson (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (190 )
5 star
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4.6 (164 )
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3 star
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  •  
    Simone 08-23-14
    Simone 08-23-14 Member Since 2014

    Join me on GoodReads too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    602
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    383
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    "Almost Perfect"

    These types of books are my favourite; I always gets sucked into WW2 era stories because I find them so compelling and I found this story even more riveting than many others because of the added legal-thriller-courtroom-drama aspect.

    Although I found it was an excellent story, some things did bother me a little:

    •In the beginning when Ben wanted to tell his tale to Catherine, the whole “lawyer wants to hurry up / Ben wants to slow things down” thing was very tedious. I felt like it was being drilled into me – it was borderline drinking game. “get to the point Ben” “I’m getting there Catherine” enough!

    •Too much interjection of the present punctuated into the recollections of the past. I’ve read many books where the main narrative is told as a recollection, but the interjection of only a sentence or two from the current time line (like a question from Catherine) broke the mood. Explaining to me how Catherine was reacting to Ben’s story or going into detail about how she felt about what she was hearing interrupted the flow and rhythm.

    •The romance between Catherine and Liam – why bother? Such an unnecessary thread. That entire thing could have been cut out in my opinion along with ALL of Catherine’s personal-life threads. Pointless.

    Despite those complaints, I really enjoyed it overall. Good book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 01-21-15
    Laura 01-21-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    17
    5
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    "Such a corny reader!"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    It was not time well-spent. I found myself so annoyed by the whining voice that I was anxious to be done! I've read many other fine books about the horrors of the Nazi regime - in fact I'm reading the superb "All the Light We Cannot See" right now, and find this book to be so simplistic and cliche. I kept talking back to it - of course his Hannah was the most beautiful girl in the whole world!


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The accents were awful. I don't feel I can honestly evaluate the book because I was so annoyed by the reader's corny, whining voice.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 11-22-14
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 11-22-14 Member Since 2013

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "5-Star Thriller with History and Heart"

    At a fundraiser, Ben Solomon a holocaust survivor, walks up to Elliot Rosenzweig, a well-know Chicago businessman and philanthropist, and clocks him right in the jaw, all the while accusing Rosenzweig of being an ex S.S. Nazi Officer by the name of Otto Piatek. A shocked Rosenzweig, concerned for this man's sanity and his own reputation, rolls up his sleeve to reveal the tattooed identification numbers of the Auschwitz Death Camp. And so the tale begins between these two men. A legal thriller, Ben sets out to prove his accusations, while Elliot needs to prove Ben's lying.

    Much of the book is filled with Ben telling his story to Catherine Lockhart, a young busy lawyer. Ben wants to convince her to take his case of stolen property from all those years ago. Catherine, is skeptical that there is any tangible evidence after all this time, but after much persuasion she allows Ben to tell his story. Ben takes no short cuts, beginning with growing up in Zamosc, Poland explaining how his life entwines with Otto Piatek right through the war. But are Otto and Elliot one in the same?

    Being the daughter of 2 Holocaust survivors, I have listened to my share of Holocaust novels, in fact I've even written one, but Once We Were Brothers has to be one of the best books I've come across.

    Fred Berman did an incredible job narrating this book. His performance brought the characters to life. It's almost a week since I finished Once We Were Brothers and I can't stop thinking about it. It would be a shame to miss this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eye Stealer 05-22-15
    Eye Stealer 05-22-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Just Wow..."

    One of the best books I have ever read! I have to say I cried at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paris P. Pickard Culver City, CA, US 05-06-15
    Paris P. Pickard Culver City, CA, US 05-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    2
    2
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    "Basic"

    This novel felt pretty basic and forced. You could tell it was a first novel. It felt like a supplement to a middle school history class. As it's set in modern day a fair portion is spent recounting the past and that made everything feel like exposition.

    There was a lot of repetition and dictionary style definitions of events and terms. The narrator was cheesy and had some trouble with the accents and gender changes.

    The story was endearing but wasn't as good as others in this genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa 05-01-15
    Melissa 05-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    2
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    "Amazing!!"

    Couldn't stop listening, this book would make an excellent movie. I wish I hadn't finished it because I wanted to keep listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Gleiser 04-14-15 Member Since 2015
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    5
    5
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    "Part lesson part mystery all heart"

    Not to be missed. A good story tolld in a way that captures you lomg after the last page! You will thunk about these people and their story long after.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marybelle Green Brook, NJ, United States 03-29-15
    Marybelle Green Brook, NJ, United States 03-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    8
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    "Grips you and never lets go!"

    I couldn't put this book down. It reached and touched my soul. I laughed and I cried. The narrative is so gripping you feel like you are there, at a window, looking in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anoetzel 03-25-15
    anoetzel 03-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Amazing in every way!!!"

    Riveting!!! Beautifully written and brilliantly read. I loved every second!!! I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves great storytelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Kov. 01-31-15
    R. Kov. 01-31-15 Member Since 2013
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    49
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    "Mesmerized!!"

    I will admit there some moments in the story were I thought "Elliot" was a man in an uncomfortable situation, maintaining the "status qua".
    But as the story progressed, it became obvious to all that I was very much mistaken.
    The story took on a life of its own.
    As with all the books I listened to, the Reader/Actor, becomes each and every character.
    Thank U.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 21 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • sunflower
    UK
    4/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "OUTSTANDING - STORY AND NARRATOR BEYOND EXCELLENT"
    What did you like most about Once We Were Brothers?

    gripping story line, excellently narrated


    What other book might you compare Once We Were Brothers to, and why?

    that's a no-brainer question; this book is incomparable - without equal


    Have you listened to any of Fred Berman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    no, but certainly intend to now


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    absolutely, but for the time factor. listened to it 2x within 10 days, with even increased pleasure!


    Any additional comments?

    I don't feel I can rate this highly enough. Each time I listened, in the car - driving and just sitting in it (to carry on listening), walking the dog, cooking, getting up etc etc, I thought: this is just superb and Fred Berman's acting/reading mind-blowing. Both Ronald Balson and Fred Berman have created an UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE for me.....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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