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by Ronald H. Balson
Winston Churchill is purported to have said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I think I’m always drawn to WWII novels partly to try and get a grasp on our past, partly because war time brings out the very best and the very worst of human beings and as such makes for gripping, heart wrenching stories and partly because it scares the living daylights out of me that we human beings are failing to learn from history…
Eli has made a promise and he intends to keep it no matter what…. Spanning three eras – Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War – Eli’s Promise explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds.
1939: Eli Rosen lives with his wife Esther and their young son in the Polish town of Lublin, where his family owns a construction company. As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Eli’s company is appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski—an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin’s powerless residents. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise?
1946: Eli resides with his son in a displaced persons camp in Allied-occupied Germany hoping for a visa to America. His wife has been missing since the war. One man is sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas; might he know what has happened to her?
1965: Eli rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is working for the US government on a mission to uncover large-scale political fraud and scandal. Will he be able to keep his life-long promise?
“Balson juggles between his three stories effectively, writing with great emotion but without overt melodrama, always aware of the tragic ways in which history repeats itself.” — Booklist
Readers will not be able to put this book down, but will turn the pages compulsively with heart in throat, eager to learn the fate of the Rosen family. Balson’s meticulous historical detail, vivid prose and unforgettable characters further solidify his place among the most esteemed writers of historical fiction today.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lost Girls of Paris