“Jacques has written a most poignant book about a painful topic. The story covers an important part of history from a very personal perspective. Some of those discussed in various chapters are hateful and spiteful while others (the teacher, the nurse and doctor) are angels of mercy. Too bad we do not have less of the former and more of the later in our world today. I can see how the book could be turned into an excellent movie.”

Professor William Handorf, The George Washington University

“I started and finished reading this captivating book last night. The poignant narrative gripped me and I just could not put it down. The writing is brilliant, full of grace and eloquence, in impeccable French. This book is the successful realization of a promise fulfilled with honor and devotion; a noble mission masterfully accomplished. It is a real treasure.”

— Helen Wajs,  who was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941 and miraculously survived.

“Besnainou tells the story of two French Jewish families, his own and that of his wife Isabelle, during World War II in France. He wrote the book because of a promise he had made to his mother that the story would be told; that there would be witness. It is all clearly told in simple, moving English: the cruelty, the arrests, the betrayals and the acts of kindness and bravery. It is about the pervasive evil of the time and odd actions of courage and goodness. The Besnainou’s have prospered and left France for America, where Jacques is a savant of the nuclear industry and was the former North American head of the giant company Areva, and where Isabelle is a professor of finance and head of her department at The George Washington University. Jacques has kept his promise to his mother fulsomely, and both have added to our understanding of mass evil and of the human spirit during extreme persecution.”

Llewellyn King,  White House Chronicle

“This compilation of family history beginning with the exodus from Galicia in the Austro Hungarian Empire thru Poland, Germany and finally seeking political safety in France, only to be betrayed by the French government during German occupation and saved by a caring group of French citizens should make any reader living in a democratic society thankful for the freedom to live without fear of annihilation or imprisonment for their national and religious heritage. The impact of these personal tragedies and survival of those who lived to tell the truth of the evils of Nazism and the capitulation of the French state made me deeply grateful to have been born and lived in the United States of America.”

Eugene Wingerter, former CEO of the Environmental Industry Associations


“I have read many book formats ranging from autobiographies to epic poems that recollect the horrors of World War II, but nothing has been as truly unique and personal as The Promise. I would have never guessed the English version I read was translated because of the flowing descriptive language.  I can only imagine the beauty of the book in French. The prologue was very informative, and provided me with a personal connection to the text.  As I proceeded to the first chapter, I felt like I was inside a story versus reading a history textbook. The descriptive narrative broken with necessary background information was very intriguing and enjoyable to read. I was able to gain insight to the characters and setting while receiving historical information from the story.  I read the book in one plane flight and did not put it down. I did learn more about the Jewish people in France during the occupation, but I also finished the book with an optimistic attitude because it held hope throughout all the horrific situations your family members went through. The Promise will definitely be recommended to my friends and given to my parents.”

Brittany Genthert, High School Senior


“Mr. Besnainou’s attention to detail, his weaving together of the many threads of his family’s history, and his mastery of the art of story-telling, successfully fulfill the promise he made to his mother to publish the incredible story of his family. The Promise tells both the triumphs and perils of the Holzer-Englander and Silberman families and paints a picture of the incredible risks taken that ensured their family’s survival. Mr. Besnainou shares the compelling true stories of his family members, leaving his readers filled with a sense of awe and admiration of their incredible strength and will power. Forever, I will think about these two families’ bravery and perseverance; and particularly, I will always carry with me the story of Little Gisele’s bold (and timely!) decision to run away.”

Emily Fink, Consultant