Hi, this is Barb Lewis reporting on the book "Once We Were Brothers" by Ronald Balsom.
As soon as I read the last sentence I knew this was the the one I wanted to tell people to read!
It starts in 2004, in Chicago, with Ben Solom, a retired city worker, preparing to go to an opening night opera. When he arrives, he puts a gun to the head of Elliot Rosenzweig, one of Chicago's wealthest and most prominent citizens. We discover Ben wants to expose Elliot as being a former SS officer named Otto Piatek, known in Poland as the Butcher of Zamosc. Yet Elliot has said he himself was a Holocaust survivor and has the concentration camp tattoo to prove it.
This book goes back and forth, from 1936 Poland when Ben's Jewish family took in a young German boy and raised him as their own, until that boy left to join the Nazis, to the present time. Ben tells his story, chapter by chapter, to a young cynical attorney, Catherine Lockhart, who grudingly takes his case, to prove that Elliot is truly Otto, even though there is no proof, only Ben's memory. There's such a love story that you slowly learn about, with Ben and his darling Hannah that you just can't forget about.
I learned so much history in this book and it made me think of my dad, who at just 17, left the hills of Tennessee to help fight the evils that they were hearing about in another part of the world.
It's historical fiction, legal thriller and a fantastic love story, all rolled into one. I rushed to finish it. Now I'm going to read it again - it was that good!