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Hope and Honor Paperback – May 16, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part Holocaust memoir and part U.S. Army career narrative, this tale of an extraordinary life begins with young Schaja Shachnowski, a Lithuanian Jew, watching the Nazis march into his town. Taken with his family to a concentration camp, they survived by bribery, quick wits, the help of the Jewish camp police and the occasional assistance of local Lithuanians. Schaja was impressed by American GIs and remembered them after he and his family were eventually admitted to the U.S.: wanting to marry a Christian girl whom his family loathed and also unable to find a decent job, he enlisted in the army in 1955. This began a 40-year career, covered in the book's second half, that ended with him a much decorated major general, having spent most of his career in Special Forces, eventually becoming its commanding general. He served two tours in Vietnam, commanded the Berlin Brigade and fought for an enlarged role for Special Forces. He is also still married to his boyhood love, a remarkably enduring person in her own right. Schachnow's life certainly demonstrates the title qualities, as well as high professional integrity and a ferocious will to survive. His telling of it is not always graceful, but his story comes through clearly and with conviction.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“From surviving the insanity of Hitler's holocaust to becoming commander of U.S. Special Forces, General Shachnow has accomplished the incredible. His is a story of hope, honor, heroism---one that should be read by everyone who enjoys freedom . . . or longs for it.” ―W. E. B. Griffin

“A gripping story of a warrior's survival and ultimate victory against all odds.” ―General Norman Schwarzkopf

“A gripping memoir of personal tragedy, perserverence, and triumph. Very few soldiers achieve the rank of Major General in the U.S. Army Special Forces. That a survivor of the Kovno concentration camp could do so says great things about the U.S. Army. . . . Major General Shachnow is a great American who serves as an example to every American that freedom does not come free.” ―Paul Wolfowitz

“Absolutely harrowing, as vivid and frightening as any Holocaust account I've read. His Special Forces experiences in Vietnam are also astonishing. General Shachnow had a vital role in shaping America's Special Forces into the tool it is today, at the precise time it is needed.” ―Larry Bond, author of the New York Times bestseller Red Phoenix

“An inspiring story wonderfully told, General Shachnow's memoir is as deeply moving as it is fascinating. His journey from a childhood amid the Holocaust to become one of the U.S. Army's most effective and visionary generals is at once a testament to his personal courage, to human resilience and to America's greatness.” ―Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Baghdad and Fighting For The Future

“What a book! Must reading! More riveting than any novel!” ―Thomas Fleming

“Sid Shachnow's life is an inspiring story for us all. . . . His powerful narrative is a riveting read, moving and informative.” ―Fred Franks, General U.S. Army (ret.), co-author with Tom Clancy of the New York Times #1 bestseller Into the Storm: A Study in Command


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765312840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765312846
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jm Smith on September 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the gripping memoir of a child Holocaust survivor who immigrates to the US, enlists in the Army and works his way up to Major General in the US Special Forces.

The story begins with the horrors of the Lithuanian Holocaust death camp (Kovno) described through the eyes of a young, naive boy. Shachnow tries to make sense of his small world as his life quickly spirals downward. I found the brazen anti-Semitism displayed by Lithuanians alarming and disturbing. Shachnow watches helplessly as his mother is violently raped and family members are robbed, tortured, humiliated and brutally slaughtered, one by one.

To make himself less vulnerable to extermination, Shachnow performs excruciating work on a labor detail where a malicious guard bludgeons him unconscious with the back of a shovel. Rail thin and slowly starving to death, his hair and toenails begin to fall off from malnutrition but he narrowly escapes the death camp on the eve of it's liquidation. The Holocaust portion is without a doubt the most harrowing part of the book.

After immigrating to the United States, Shachnow must adapt to his new life in suburban middle-America. The Americanization of this young, unassuming refugee from post war Europe is at times poignantly heartbreaking and at other times laugh-out-loud hysterical. Still unable to speak English, he attends school for the first time in his life, tries Coca-Cola (tastes like medicine!), loves rock-and-roll, learns to play football, and does his best to fit in.

This book shines light on how important it is for immigrants to integrate in order to succeed. In one particularly heartrending episode young Shachnow discovers the disturbing truth that his father is a sad failure at assimilating into life in America.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TamarDC on October 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the best book I've read recently and I heartily recommend it.

The first and most harrowing part of the book deals with General Shachnow's childhood and miraculous survival of the Holocaust. The protagonist of the story is primarily Shachnow's mother -- an extraordinary, quick witted and determined woman. It is mainly due to her efforts and incredible daring that both her children (one of whom was a mere toddler) survived, while pretty much everyone around them perished. Her strength through the war and the heartbreaks and challenges of the family's post war experiences were to me the most touching and heartrending aspect of the book. Shachnow does a fine job at crediting his mother's extraordinary sacrifices and bravery, but also touchingly describing her weaknesses and eventual failures.

The second part of the book, which in some ways is just as touching, deals with the Shachnow family's move first to post-war Germany and then to the US. The immigration experience was particularly rough on General Shachnow, who arrived in the US as an unschooled and traumatized teenager, but managed, through toil and faith to complete high school successfully. Shachnow's parents fared less well. They seemed unable to transition to the new culture and its demands. Shachnow speculates that his mother had used up all her strength and ingenuity to survive and therefore found herself unable to cope with the new world. Shachnow tells us how the graceful heroine of the Kovno Ghetto turns into a nagging, selfish and small-minded woman, whose behavior inhibits her and her husband from succeeding in their new life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Book Lovr on September 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just got the book the other day but finished it already. It's the first book I've read in years that I just couldn't put down. It is a facinating true story. This is a truly amazing tale and with some great humor. I loved it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Gargano VINE VOICE on April 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book that is filled with memories of a life that reads like fiction. Major General Shachnow is an amazing man, led an amazing life with courage and strength above and beyond most people. The stories of his childhood are heart- wrenching and yet they show the beginnings of this boy's growth into the man he became.

The only complaint I have about the book is that some of the recollections seemed to be cut short, I would just be getting into a story, wanting to know more, and the author was on the way to something else! I sometimes wonder how people survive the many hardships they have in their life, and Major General Shachnow had his share of hardships plus some. And of course, his joys and happy times as well. They are all told in this book with honesty, humor and matter of fact humility.

This book was a gift, and I'm grateful that someone gave it too me, I had not seen it in the stores. Read this book, even it you don't normally read memoirs or non-fiction, it is well worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Eisenberg on November 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinary story of strength, courage and love under the most trying conditions imaginable. After surviving the Holocaust as a boy in Nazi-controlled Lithuania, Sidney Shachnow eventually emigrated to the U.S. with his family to start a new life. Risking his life in defense of freedom as a career soldier he truly gave back so much to his new homeland. As such Gen Shachnow's story serves to remind us of the real meaning of American patriotism, which, sadly, in not taught in schools the way it formerly was.

This book makes an equally valuable contribution to American literature as Gen. Shachnow made to the U.S. Army. Unlike so many celebrity autobiographies, which are little more than self-agrandizing fluff-fluff, this book presents the story of Gen Shachnow's life in a painfully honest manner. From cover to cover it is the forthright story of a real man and a real human being, warts and all. That Gen. Shachnow has no trouble being as open as he is with his readers further attests to his bravery and character.
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