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About the book
  • Published: 1 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099554646
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99
Categories:

Village of Secrets

Defying the Nazis in Vichy France




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.

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.

  • Pub date: 1 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099554646
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $19.99
Categories:

About the Author

Caroline Moorehead

Caroline Moorehead is the biographer of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark, Iris Origo and Martha Gellhorn. Her biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Dancing to the Precipice, was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award in 2009, and her most recent book, Village of Secrets, was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

Also by Caroline Moorehead

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Praise for Village of Secrets

“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

“A lot is known about the authors of this unhuman cruelty, the Nazi overlords and their villainous Vichy accomplices. Less well-documented are the heroes, the ordinary, decent people, who put their lives at risk by hiding and saving Jews from death camps. Village of Secrets is an impressive attempt to set straight the record, an uplifting tale of courage and morality…Moorehead travelled the world interviewing survivors and had access to archives that few have seen”

Matthew Campbell, The Sunday Times

“Compelling and authoritative…latterly, Moorehead writes, there has been an emphasis on 'minimising collaborators and celebrating resisters'. She sets that record straight”

Sue Gaisford, Financial Times

“Moorehead is not the first to have written of this remarkable safe enclave, but she has investigated the most thoroughly, tracking down survivors among the protectors and among the children...this is an inspiring book ”

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail 'Book of the Week'

“A tremendously well-written and important book and a testament to the qualities Camus lent La Peste's hero: 'humane, optimistic, tolerant, free-thinking, ever alive to injustice and acts of inhumanity'”

Rebecca K Morris, Independent

“Caroline Moorehead’s remarkable book is in essence the story of how a community, or rather group of communities, survived the travails of war with dignity. It is also a tale that gives a larger meaning to Hemingway’s macho phrase, 'grace under pressure'… Moorehead is wary of attempts to simplify history and ignore the complications of memory… What, as the last memories dim, was the truth? Moorehead’s question is implicit: is there such a thing? The reader is left with another question, equally difficult: 'what would I have done?’”

Ian Bell, The Herald

“Powerful and ultimately uplifting book … a far more nuanced account of courage - in which some Catholics did indeed help, and the links with neutral Switzerland were occasionally helpful - than previously recounted about Le Chambon ”

Anne Sebba, Jewish Chronicle

“Fascinating and heartening story… Thorough, objective and readable… captivating ”

Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

“Elegant style ”

Richard Vinen, Evening Standard

“Brilliantly captures the actions of an astonishing, taciturn wartime community”

Dermot Bulger, Sunday Business Post

“A story of courage and determination, of heroic individuals…and of what can be done when people come together to oppose tyranny”

Sunday Telegraph

“A unique story of courage and determination”

Daily Telegraph

“Elegant style”

WOW247

“Moorehead’s account makes for frequently moving and, at times, harrowing reading… Fascinating”

Hanna Diamond, BBC History Magazine

“[Moorehead is a] brilliant investigative journalist”

Country Life

“A work of remembrance and a moving tribute”

Iain Finlayson, Saga Magazine

“Moorehead skillfully intersperses layer after layer of historical fact with narratives of deeply human stories”

Henriette Wentink, Reform Magazine

“A moving piece, splendidly told”

Lucy Beckett, Tablet

“It’s an inspiring story”

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

“Moorehead does an expert job in pulling together testimonies from survivors to filter myths and memories from fact to retell an extraordinary tale”

Julia Richardson, Daily Mail

“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”

Miss Dinky

“Village of Secrets is crammed full of stories from survivors, tales of courage, betrayal, failure, success, hope, despair. It is a helter-skelter ride through the most extreme of human experiences”

Susannah Perkins, Nudge


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