Eli’s Promise

Ronald H. Balson

A “fixer” in a Polish town during WWII, his betrayal of a Jewish family, and a search for justice 25 years later—by the winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

Eli’s Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras—Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War, all tied together by a common thread. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson 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 Aryanized, appropriated and transferred to Maximilian Poleski—an unprincipled profiteer who peddles favors to Lublin’s subjugated residents, and who knows nothing at all of construction. An uneasy alliance is formed; Poleski will keep the Rosen family safe if Eli will manage the business. Will Poleski honor his promise or will their relationship end in betrayal and tragedy?

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 may know what has happened to her. Is he the same man who is now sneaking around the camps selling illegal visas?

1965: Eli Rosen rents a room in Albany Park, Chicago. He is on a mission. With patience, cunning, and relentless focus, Eli navigates Chicago’s unfamiliar streets and dangerous political backrooms, searching for the truth. Powerful and emotional, Eli’s Promise is a rich, rewarding novel of World War II and a husband’s quest for justice.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) Within minutes of starting this audio, I felt tears springing to my eyes. It is a very powerful start.

From there we follow Eli and his son through 3 different timelines; before/during the war, after, much after.

The three timelines were difficult. There were times I had to rewind to see which year they were in. A lot of the characters are the same and even events were similar at times, so keeping track was a bit difficult. Reading the book might make this a bit easier, the year is stated with each chapter.

The interesting part for me was listening to each atrocity start slowly. Rumors and disbelief were high. It was easy to question but ultimately disregard rumors about what was happening. Many were led to believe certain paths were for their own good, that it was the best choice at the time. And truly, in the moment, I could see why they chose what they did. Desperation. Longing for safety and more. Nobody was above feeling this. It was heart wrenching and frustrating to hear.

Ultimately, the story is about the war, mistakes, trust, love, family and perseverance. It was powerful and emotional and the end wrapped it up perfectly.

Content: murder, bodies burned, domestic abuse, moderate language with 4 F words, tuberculosis sicknesses and deaths, young girls and women became Nazi commodities (rape eluded to), war atrocities such as people taken from their homes, people gassed and killed, families being torn apart, forced slavery, starvation and more.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio and St. Martin’s Press for the gifted ALC in exchange for an honest review.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 


  1. I might have to check this out. I love historical fiction and, even as heart-wrenching as it is, the WWII era is my favorite to read about. Great review.

  2. It’s amazing to me that people have lived through so much. I think the split timelines would be easier for me to read too, I’m not much for audiobooks 🤭

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