Village of Secrets
A SUNDAY TIMES TOP FIVE BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2014
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.
High up in the mountains of the southern Massif Central in France lies a cluster of tiny, remote villages united by a long and particular history. During the Nazi occupation, the inhabitants of the Plateau Vivarais Lignon saved several thousand people from the concentration camps. As the victims of Nazi persecution flooded in – resisters, freemasons, communists and Jews, many of them children – the villagers united to keep them safe.
The story of why and how these villages came to save so many people has never been fully told. But several of the remarkable architects of the mission are still alive, as are a number of those they saved. Caroline Moorehead has sought out and interviewed many of the people involved in this extraordinary undertaking, and brings us their unforgettable testimonies. It is a story of courage and determination, of a small number of heroic individuals who risked their lives to save others, and of what can be done when people come together to oppose tyranny.
"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 *
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