Once We Were Brothers

  • by Ronald H. Balson
  • Narrated by Fred Berman
  • 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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

Corny & Predictable

What would have made Once We Were Brothers better?

Although the story of the Holocaust is tragic and compelling, this book in particular was poorly written and oversimplified the terrible events of the time. I found the characters very one dimensional, shallow and stereotypical. The narrative was very unoriginal and corny in parts with many inconsistencies in the story line. It read more like a teenage adventure story! I also found the writing style very amateurish, dripping with over sentimentality! I would not recommend this to anyone looking for a realistic account of the Holocaust experience. The protagonists lacked the depth and nuance one would expect from such characters.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The accents and mispronunciations of certain non-English words were terrible.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, derision and the feeling of condescension from the author's perspective. It felt like an insult to my intelligence. At parts in the story I found myself guessing the plot, rolling my eyes in disbelief and screaming in frustration.

Any additional comments?

A waste of money!

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- Larry

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-17-2013
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio