4 out of 4 stars
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Hans and Kurt are brothers born in South Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. During a tumultuous time in history, especially in that region, their family’s German ancestry only complicates things. With the outbreak of World War I, Kurt manages to flee to America with an uncle, leaving a heartbroken Hans and the rest of the family behind. The suffering, unfortunately, is just starting.
Dear American Brother, written by Joe J. Elder, is the story of Hans’ ordeals, skillfully narrated against a meticulously described backdrop of wars and revolutions. The narrative begins in 1945, right after the end of World War II, with the protagonist desperately searching for his seventeen-year-old daughter in the middle of the destroyed streets of Berlin. He then takes readers back in time to explain the chain of events that led to this, which include failed attempts to leave Europe and join Kurt in America.
The book’s context is fascinating. The author describes major historical events through the eyes of a young man who becomes a helpless victim of oppressive regimes – “we were slaves bound to Lenin’s communist ideals.” Readers are taken on a character-driven journey with Hans as he witnesses the creation of the Soviet Union, as well as Stalin’s and Hitler’s insanities. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the occupation of Russia by the Germans – which happens twice – and the aftermath of the forces’ withdrawal.
The storytelling is compelling and emotionally arousing. The exchange of letters between the brothers, for instance, almost brought me to tears. Additionally, there are interesting secondary characters such as Hans’ grandparents and sister, and the book offers a fresh look at the inner workings of a communist regime and its devastating impact on people’s lives. The suspense keeps building, and the ending is breathtaking, but no spoilers are allowed! I hope the author writes a sequel, for I would love to see how the story continues. Also, I believe this book would make a great movie or TV series.
Lastly, I rate Dear American Brother 4 out of 4 stars. I found no noteworthy negative points in it. The editing seemed clean and professional, with no errors to point out. The book flows smoothly, with an elegant style. Overall, this was a fast and enjoyable read that I would strongly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. In my opinion, only readers who are not fond of the genre might dislike it.
Dear American Brother
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