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on 12 March 2015
Such a moving story of life in France during the Nazi occupation, beautifully written. This should be compulsory reading in schools for Fifth and Sixth form students. The courage of the inhabitants to save Jewish people, when a mistake or betrayal cost them and their families their own lives. For Holocaust deniers, they should be made to learn it by heart.
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on 29 December 2014
Interesting because I visited the village many years ago as a teenager and was totally unaware of this part of its history. Tries to be balanced . Covers the stories of too many of the participants. It would have been easier to read if the stories of fewer participants had been described in more depth. the characters would have had more life that way.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2014
The story is true and compelling, and Caroline Moorehead has researched and written the story of the french, the germans and the horrible events occurring during the Occupation very well. The massif centrale of France, a mountainous area of people who were very independent and even more so because of a strong protestant ethic in catholic France, was isolated and well suited to hiding those the germans sought. The families of these villages took in jewish children and adults, resistants and anyone the germans wanted. The book is well written, though the reading is sometimes difficult because the facts are so dreadful. This was a group of very courageous French, glad that Ms. Moorehead has written their story. Well worth reading.
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on 12 December 2014
I was a little disappointed to be honest after the reviews...
I am going to send it to my friend in USA who may have a
different view, but I expected a bit more and I wasn't too
keen on the style of writing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2014
It is really sad to see the spiteful invective that has been generated - mostly due to the 'afterword' in Moorehead's book. Anyone who has read the whole thing can only conclude that, while there may be errors here and there, a powerful story has been well told. Moorehead does not do anything other than report the debate that seems still to be raging. Trocme is portrayed as a complex and driven personality. He would have to have been such a person to have taken the stands that he did. The achievements of Chambon are properly described and celebrated, as are those of other people and places who made such distinctive contributions. Stop the backbiting!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
I spent a summer holiday helping at Colonie de Vacance in 1970 on the plateau between Le Chambon and St Agreve. It was beautiful, working with the children was fun and it helped my French speaking enormously.

What I didn't know then were the amazing secrets of the region.
It's been enlightening and nostalgic to read this account. We're these heroes the folk in the pews when I attended church in Le Chambon?
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on 23 January 2015
I got it for her thanks in the other chair to keep her quiet for awhile.Not my sort of book but she enjoyed it and a neighbor still has it. Dont borrow or lend. Thanks Peter.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Village of Secrets is the wartime story of the residents of a small group of slightly remote mountain villages within France's Massif Centrale where they mutually acted in total defiance of the German occupiers. Hiding Jews, protestors, Communists and whoever else the Germans were keen to find, they were able to feed them and initiate escapes when possible and thus kept them out of the concentration camps where they were likely to die by design or neglect. When raided, the villagers were able to move those that were hidden to temporary safe places in the woods and elsewhere. There was one other rare and curious fact - none was betrayed from within the communities.

In general, individuals and small numbers in many locations acted personally and collectively within more organised groups to hide Allied airmen, Jews, escapees and others from the Germans. The usual methodology was to have a contact in one location who passed an escapee to another elsewhere and by a series of short journeys over days, weeks or months, hopefully effect an escape. None in a typical circuit would have known more than two or three others limiting any potential damage caused by exposure. Within the villages, that was not an issue.

Each chapter within the book tells a different story and, collectively, they combine to form a rare and unusual story. Whether you have a family connection to one of the villagers, to one whom they helped, to anyone helped in similar circumstances during WW2 elsewhere in occupied Europe or an interest in similar activities, then the book is a must read.

This is one of a great many books that is now appearing at a time when even the youngest of the participants will either be approaching great age or, more likely, will have died some years ago. Any embarrassment or other negative consequences of the release of long-forgotten involvements will thus be severely limited. The story is unique among many simply because of the numbers of participants.

The villagers' efforts in respect of their help with saving Jews was rewarded by Israel by a collective memorial at Yad Vashem, a rare achievement for so many. The help rendered to so many others deserves similarly recognition; reading this book may help.
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on 6 August 2015
The author has gathered a huge amount of information, some of it quite harrowing, some quite surprising. On the whole a very informative book about Vichy France.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2014
This is a must read book. An incredible story about about a small tightly knit community making a difference at no concern to their lives or deaths.
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