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Once We Were Brothers Paperback – February 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berwick Court Publishing (February 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615351913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615351919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (979 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A terrific read and an important portrayal of actual legal work performed by real-life lawyers committed to pursuing those who assisted in Nazi atrocities and then lied to gain US citizenship. --Steven Biskupic, former federal prosecutor

Blending intrigue, court room drama, and facing the struggles of life that drive us for all those involved - the accused, the accuser, and the lawyers. "Once We Were Brothers" is riveting and unique reading, highly recommended. (Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review)

Extraordinary story.  I started on Saturday morning and finished Saturday night, ignoring all of my errands.  I could not put it down.  The legal scenes are authentic and compelling. --Richard Kling, Professor, Chicago-Kent College of Law

[W]hen the oral retelling really starts it is a book I could not put down and the writing is superb.  Balson has debuted with an outstanding historical piece of fiction and we hope to see more from him in the near future. Readers will not go wrong by picking up this book.  Four stars. (The Record, Chicago Bar Association)

If you enjoy a good story, if you like novels, if accidentally learning something significant gives you a charge, buy this book and I PROMISE you that you will be glad you did. --David Templer, Attorney, Miami, FL

About the Author

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and a writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues, including villages in Poland that inspired this first novel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


More About the Author

Ronald H. Balson is an attorney practicing with the firm of Stone, Pogrund and Korey in Chicago. The demands of his trial practice have taken him into courts across the United States and into international venues.

An adjunct professor of business law at the University of Chicago for twenty-five years, he now lectures on trial advocacy in federal trial bar courses.

Travels to Warsaw and southern Poland in connection with a complex telecommunications case inspired Once We Were Brothers, his first novel.

Customer Reviews

The plot and characters were very believable.
Marais
This book kept me captivated from the very first page to the end.
Lucia Melnychuk
It was a very interesting book and very well written.
Barbara

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Aron on May 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I learned that my law school classmate, Ronald Balson, had written a
legal novel entitled, Once We Were Brothers, I knew that I just had to read it. If I
expected to read something along the lines of a Turrow, Grisham or Martini, legal
thriller, I was pleasantly surprised - it wasn't.

The story begins when Ben Solomon, an 83 year old retired city worker,
appears at the opening night gala of Chicago's Lyric Opera and puts a gun to the
head of Elliot Rosenzweig, an insurance magnate and one of Chicago's most
prominent citizens and philanthropists. We learn that the gun was unloaded and
Ben says that his motive was that he wanted to exposed Elliot as being an
impostor - that Elliot really was Otto Piatek, a former SS officer known in Poland
as the "Butcher of Zamosc". It was at this time that Elliot Rosenzweig declared
for the first time that he was himself a Holocaust survivor and definitely not an
SS officer. He then revealed his arm which bore a concentration camp tattoo.
Who would represent Ben? This crime was committed in front of hundreds of
people and Rosenzweig had been declared by the Mayor Chicago to be "Chicago's
treasure."

Attorney Catherine Lockhart, who was working for one of Chicago's major
white collar firms, made the "mistake" that many attorneys do, by answering her
telephone. She was asked if she could do a favor for a friend - words an attorney
hates to hear.
Read more ›
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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bruns on August 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this on a friend's recommendation and didn't really know what to expect. Historical fiction based in Nazi-occupied Poland, bouncing back and forth to present day America. I ended up loving this book. It is part legal thriller, part action/love story, and part history book. The descriptions of Europe and what was happening from a human perspective in the 1940's were so vivid that I actually feel more informed and knowledgeable after having read it. You can tell that the author really did his research. Enjoyable and informative - I can't ask for much more than that. It's a cliche to say that you "just couldn't put the book down." But last night, I had intended to go to bed at around 10 PM. When did I actually get to bed? 2 AM, after I finished this book.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin James on February 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am infamous for picking up a novel and quickly diverting my attention to something else. This book, however, had me captivated from the moment I opened it. There wasn't a moment I saw myself at a good stopping point. The book flows remarkably. These words quickly transformed into vivid imagery that has resonated since I finished it over a year ago. This gorgeous painting of literature deeply demonstrates a holocaust survivor's profound triumph through unspeakable tragedy, as well as his undying quest for justice. Though the novel recreates world war 2 poland through Ben Solomon's retelling, it picks up, without a hiccup, to near present day Chicago. Loved it and I'm reading it again now. Don't be surprised if it ends up in theaters.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Roberta Proctor on July 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fine and compelling premise is not enough to make a book great. Such is the case with "Once We Were Brothers." I hate to say anything negative about a book that sets its Holocaust tale in Poland, a perspective less explored in fiction than some others. The book's historical accuracy, in fact, makes many scenes heartbreakingly real. The plot structure, however, is very clunky. Circumstances are forced to drive the plot, and these circumstances strain the narrative. Characters at times are drawn almost as types, rather than as round, flesh and blood characters and the accompanying dialogue is often stiff.

The book's premise described thoroughly in many other reviews is extremely compelling, and the shifting events from present-day Chicago to WWII era Poland and back create a tense narrative that makes for a page-turning read. It is not, however, an elegantly written book. I do believe, however, that this author shows great promise. I would read another of his books to see if he lives up to the promise suggested by this one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Leslie D. Seymour on July 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ron Balson's first novel, Once We Were Brothers, combines the best of historical fact, spellbinding fiction and personal drama. Although set in war-torn Europe and the legal world of modern Chicago, it's not your typical courtroom drama with historical flashbacks; it's also a love story that crosses both time and geographical boundaries. As an attorney in Chicago who also has spent time in southern Poland, I know firsthand that this book is accurate in its portrayal of both worlds. Add well-developed fictional characters, suspense and a great ending, and you won't be able to put this book down.Once We Were Brothers
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Eric Hirsch on June 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent fast paced read; a really great summer time read. It moves from start to finish, going from Chicago to Poland and back seamlessly throughout the story. I am not an attorney, but the legal scenes seem real. The deposition of Otto near the end of the book takes on a life of its own with the excitement just building. There is a lot to learn in this book, even for those of us who are Jewish, and have read and studied the Holocaust all of our lives. The interesting part of this was that the novel does not take place in a concentration camp, nor in a death camp; we see how people in a Polish town had to deal with the pressures of Nazi rule. We see Otto change from a sympathetic boy, raised by a Jewish family, into a despicable adult capable of terrible crimes. My only criticism is that Otto's character could be more fully developed by narrating from his perspective. Then we would have the contrast between Otto and Ben truly defined, and the tension would likely be even greater. I think the end was brilliant; as Elliot/Otto is arrested and shouting "do you know who I am..." there are reminders of today's powerful people who have also been humbled. The transition from a civil to a criminal case was beautiful, and again I am not a lawyer. I am told these scenes were realistic, especially for Chicago; they seem universal to me, with Chicago being the city whose politics are known to the author. This is an outstanding first novel; I am looking forward to the movie!
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