Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Readers Heaven Welcomes Ron Balson, Author of Once We Were Brothers! With Giveaway!

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 wealthy 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, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he 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 incredibly endures through the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.


Welcome! I'm so happy to have the author of Once We Were Brothers, Ronald H. Balson, at Book Reader's Heaven today. The author has graciously provided for a giveaway of his book, which is out this month, so those interested should feel free to leave a comment with contact information!

Ron  I think you already know that your book is touching many lives. In fact, I have over one thousand visitors from Poland last month, so I'm looking forward to giving those individuals a chance to learn about your book!

I am honored.  Thank you. 


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.

I understand that you first self-published your book. How did you decide to go that route--and then what happened to have St. Martin's picked it up?
           
I submitted it through an agent to several publishers and was rejected several times.  Becoming impatient, my son and I formed our own publishing company.  We sold the book through our website, various bookstores, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  After we sold 100,000 copies, St. Martins offered to publish a new edition, which is coming out on October 8th. 

You mentioned you traveled to Poland for work and got interested--but do you also have any personal interest in what happened historically? In Poland? During the War?
            
None of my family was personally involved in the Holocaust.

Ben Solomon, by the way, is such an endearing character. Few would not agree that he had a right to seek revenge... Do you believe this desire runs through most individuals who were affected by the Nazis?

I can’t speak for them.  My character was...

Are there real-life examples of others trying to regain their losses from that time? What would you do if you discover a similar situation in your own family's background?

There are real life stories of people who sought the return of property or money taken from them.  With very few exceptions, those lawsuits are now barred.  There are cases, mentioned in the book, where people have brought suit to recover art works.
  
My mother would always clarify to me that "we were Americans" rather than German immigrants. I never asked but wondered if German-Americans must have felt shame (I know I do) for the actions of Nazi officers... Are you able to have any sympathy toward those German officers who tried to change their names and get away from the condemnation they would face?

I guess it would depend on what the German officers did during the war.  If they were active participants in the Nazi persecution, I would have no sympathy.  If they tried to change their names and sneak into the country under false identities to escape prosecution, I have no sympathy and think they should be deported for trial.  If they were just soldiers, I guess it would be different.  People forgive the Japanese, the Vietnamese.

Yes, I agree... You had Ben working with a lower-level lawyer rather than with the U.S. Attorney. Was there a reason behind that decision?

Ben thought that the U. S. Attorney’s office would not take on a case against such a prominent man without conclusive evidence.  He sought a civil lawyer (not a lower level) rather than the Justice Department.

Oops! I was thinking of "level" referring to hierarchy of legal system, but excuse my own confusion... 
You also had Ben's father tell Otto to go to the job his mother had arranged--and then later Otto seemed to blame that decision for what he'd done. Can you share a little of your thinking on these twists in your novel?

I leave that to the reader.

Now that's an interesting response... I would think most writers have a specific thought in mind and want the readers to catch it...LOL  

Because of my reading recently a book by Declan Finn, A Pius Man, I picked up your comments about meeting with the cardinal in Poland and his commenting that the Pope was fearful of antagonizing Hitler... yet later a local Father was helping with credentials, etc., to help the Jews out of the country. Could you clarify how you perceive the present-day feelings for Catholics and other faiths are today? 
            
There were many who helped the Jews at great personal risk.  Yad VaShem recognizes many of them as the Righteous Among the Nations.  As to the present day feelings of other faiths, I assume they all condemn the Holocaust and its perpetrators.

You had Ben believing that the Nazis were demons. Do you see the supernatural involvement in the Holocaust?
            
Ben does.

OK, you've convinced me that Ben took control of your book, just like he took control over Catherine's life and actions...LOL! 

You indicated that the Nazi persecution didn't limit itself to race. "Religion, national origin, alternative lifestyles, persons with disabilities--all were targets." Would it be safe to say that any individuals within those categories were included in the "count/number" for Jews...or is there information about those groups as well, if researched? 
            
No.  The count for Jews was six million.  Gypsies, Polish Intelligentsia, Polish Christians, Blacks, people with alternative lifestyles totaled another five million.

Wow! I had not known that additional number...Certainly makes me happy that writers such as yourself are incorporating this important information within enjoyable fiction novels so that more individuals have an opportunity to learn through them...

Do you truly believe "The Holocaust was not God's will. It was the will of those who had become infused of the devil...It is why we must remain diligent and relentlessly pursue men like Piatek. Evil is contagious. Much like a pathogen. It must be snuffed out at the source."?
            
Those are Ben’s views. 

You know, I'm beginning to think Ben and I have much in common, while the writer of this terrific novel is...a lawyer... No offense, Ron...That's a compliment for creating such wonderful characters that I wanted to get to know them better...LOL  Readers be sure to check out my review in a separate article! 

Thank you for your time! 

You’re very welcome.

Thanks again for visiting Book Readers Heaven...The newly published novel by St. Martins will be out October 8th... Don't forget to leave your name and contact information for a chance at the Giveaway copy!

BRH Review Coming Next!