Shachnow, Sid 1934-
SHACHNOW, Sid 1934-
PERSONAL: Born Schaja Shachnowski, 1934, in Kaunas, Lithuania; immigrated to United States, 1949; married. Education: M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author MailForge, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer and soldier. U.S. Army, 1955–95, served in Vietnam and in U.S. Special Forces; became major general, commander of U.S. Special Forces, commanding general of U.S. Forces in Berlin, and commander of JFK Special Warfare School; received two silver stars and three bronze stars with V for Valor.
(With Jann Robbins) Hope and Honor (memoir), Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Author and career soldier Sid Shachnow experienced first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust during World War II. Born in Kaunas, Lithuania, in 1934, Shachnow and his family were imprisoned in the Kovno labor camp when the Nazis seized control of Lithuania. During the daily struggle to survive, he saw friends shot simply for trying to find a morsel of food to eat. Shachnow's grandmother was killed when the camp became overcrowded, and as conditions worsened, he and his parents conducted a risky escape. The family immigrated to the United States after the war. Though he was hindered by a lack of formal education, Shachnow worked his way through school. In 1955, he joined the U.S. Army, beginning a forty-year military career that saw him rise from enlisted private to two-star major general. As a Special Forces soldier, he served two combat tours in Vietnam and performed assignments in the Middle East and at the Berlin Wall.
Shachnow recounts his harrowing early years and distinguished military tenure in his memoir, Hope and Honor. He tells the "fascinating story" of his early life in the concentration camp, his family's escape, and their adjustment to a new life in America, noted Library Journal reviewer Edward Metz. He describes how he was inspired to join the Army because he wanted to marry a Christian girl his parents did not like—the same woman who is still his wife today. Shachnow covers his military life and accomplishments, including his top performance in officer candidate school, his role as commanding general of the U.S. Special Forces, and his drive to enlarge the role of Special Forces in U.S. military operations. In his book, he offers a number of critical insights and observations on the qualities required of a Special Forces soldier. Shachnow's life "certainly demonstrates the title qualities, as well as high professional integrity and a ferocious will to survive," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "His telling of it is not always graceful, but his story comes through clearly and with conviction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2004, review of Hope and Honor, p. 733.
Library Journal, September 15, 2004, Edward Mets, review of Hope and Honor, p. 65.
Publishers Weekly, June 21, 2004, review of Hope and Honor, p. 49.
Flint Journal Online, http://www.flintjournal.com (February 13, 2005), Doug Allyn, "Only-in-America Tale Has Its Roots in Death Camp."