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Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France Paperback – Large Print, 28 Oct 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 591 pages
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe; Lgr edition (28 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062344153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062344151
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 495,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Brilliant… It is refreshing to read a book that so confidently abandons the rhetoric of heroism and tries to see its subjects for who they were… Moorehead has had to master a huge amount of background material, and she pulls it off with skill and a remarkable lightness of touch" (Keith Lowe Mail on Sunday)

"Riven with complexity… Stories of this weight could occupy several volumes and would still disorientate with all the possibilities – both altruistic and malevolent – of human nature" (Sinclair Mckay Telegraph)

"Vivid...an unsparing yet balanced account of the Vichy years...we need books like this to make it impossible for us to forget." (Alan Judd Spectator)

"An especially poignant story… enthralling and meticulous book… amidst the horror of the Holocaust – and such horror is painfully evident in the lives of those left behind – this book shows that human kindness endured undimmed by the propaganda, the threats of violence and the vast rewards on offer for submitting to the will of Nazis" (Harry Hodges Daily Express)

"Moorehead draws vivid portraits of those who helped…The emotional heart of the book beats in the children’s stories…The story does not end with Liberation. Moorehead, a biographer and historian, scrupulously records the emotional fallout from the children’s experiences" (Edward Stourton The Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands who were pursued by the Gestapo during World War II. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
At a time when 12 more ex Nazi thugs who helped to murder thousands of men, women, children and babies are about to be tried for their unspeakable crimes, this excellent book by Caroline Moorehead is very weicome.

The author tells the remarkable story of the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon a village in south central France. It is, as she explains, located in mountainous and very inhospitable terrain. Her story is about the inhabitants of this village who sheltered thousands of people from the evil Gestapo who were willingly aided and abetted by the Vichy government and its many supporters. Other villages in the area also sheltered those escaping from the Gestapo but to a lesser extent.
As the author explains, the location of the village, often cut off for months in the harsh winters, aided its ability to protect the innocent. Deep forests furtherance enhanced this ability.

Moorehead has written biographies of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark and Martha Gellhorn. She is heavily involved in human rights, and has written a history of the Red Cross. Her book 'Human Cargo'was well reviewed. At present she resides in London.

The village is high up in the Massif Central, and very remote. The story of how Le Chambon came to save so many has never been fully told before. Several of those involved are still alive, as are some of those saved. They have been interviewed by the author as part of her research. She also had access to archives hitherto unavailable. The result is a riveting account of what can be done to oppose tyranny. The village was in a region where many generations of Protestant Huguenots had hidden away from Catholics. Those saved, however, were not in fact saved by non violence but by 'imagination and cooperation'.
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Format: Hardcover
War always brings tales of heroism, courage, defiance of the odds, and humanity. And as so often happens these stories often aren't fully revealed until years later, two to three generations later, when the participants themselves have passed on, and truths begin to emerge. So it is with this story. But as well as the truths, plenty of myths also surround this extraordinary and horrific period in modern history. Well known biographer Caroline Moorhead states at the beginning of the book that her intention is to try to put right some of the myths, sift the fact from the fiction, and address the 'fallibility of memory'. In the process she pulls together an enormous amount of research material and first hand accounts from some of the many children that were saved, and descendants of those who did the rescuing. However it would seems that even she has also got the facts wrong. There are a number of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon from some of these people, none of them complimentary, disputing what she has written. All this, of course, makes a book such as this even more fascinating and intriguing to read.

During the period 1940-1944, Vichy France collaborated with the Nazis in the governance of what was essentially the southern half of France. It followed that the French police in this area were expected to carry out the orders of the Nazis to arrest dissedents, resistance fighters, Jews and anyone else seen as a threat or simply unwanted. The Haute-Loire is a region south of Lyons, so well and truly under Vichy France control. It is mountainous, very beautiful and scenic, lots of little villages and hamlets tucked in amongst the slopes, the hills, the plateaux, valleys and gullies. Before the war it was a tranquil holiday region, with many inns, pensions, and other accommodations.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Neil Foxlee on 15 Nov 2014
Format: Hardcover
I have given Village of Secrets one star to draw attention to the serious criticisms of it made by three people the author sought assistance from while researching her book, who feature significantly in it and who are well qualified to comment on its many inaccuracies. One of them, Pierre Sauvage, who made an award-winning 1989 documentary about the village in question, has given a very detailed critique of the book in a review at http://tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/186652/moorehead-le-chambon , supplemented by additional material at http://chambon.org/moorehead.htm (which also reproduces the one-star reviews by Max Liebmann and Nelly Trocmé Hewett on Amazon.com.)

It should also be pointed out that, apart from Sauvage's documentary, the story has been told in English at least twice before - first in 1979 by the late Professor Philip Hallie in Lest Innocent Blood be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There - which Ms Moorehead criticizes strongly in her own book - and latterly by Dr Patrick Henry, in We Only Know Men: The Rescue of Jews in France During the Holocaust (2007).

Like Moorehead, Henry discusses Hallie's book and the controversies it aroused among some local inhabitants who felt left out of his account, though unlike Moorehead, he sees criticisms of Hallie as unfair (see pp. 6-8 and p.18ff. at http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HhqLHRDB-WIC&q=hallie#v=onepage&q=ousby&f=false and 'Look Inside').
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