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Village of Secrets

Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 13 hrs and 49 mins
Categories: History, European
4 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the fascinating story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II.

High up in the mountains of the southern Massif Central in France lie tiny, remote villages united by a long and particular history. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, Freemasons, communists, and, above all, Jews, many of them orphans whose parents had been deported to concentration camps. There were no informers, no denunciations, and no one broke ranks. During raids, the children would hide in the woods, their packs on their backs, waiting to hear the farmers' song that told them it was safe to return. After the war, Le Chambon became one of only two places in the world to be honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations.

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying villages came to save so many people has never fully been told. With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, along with interviews documenting the testimony of surviving villagers, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose tyranny.

A major contribution to the history of the Second World War, Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.

©2014 Caroline Moorehead (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

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Outstanding!

A balanced and fascinating story of the hiding and saving of Jews during the German occupation of France. Moorhead does an excellent job of explaining the contested opinions and histories of the actions of the remote French villages. What a story of triumph over evil and hope in humanity!
Had I read instead of listened to, it may have been easier to keep names/stories of individuals straight.
The narrator was FANTASTIC.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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long but compelling story of Holocaust in France

excellent research, compelling story , well written and performed, insight into WW2 France. recommended

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful book brought to life by Ms. Toren

What made the experience of listening to Village of Secrets the most enjoyable?

Suzanne Toren's outstanding reading of this book made the overall experience of the book far better than could be obtained from the printed page

What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?

Ms. Toren's ability to put feeling into her reading gave the book a depth that the printed word just doesn't have. In addition, as many of the names and places are French, Ms. Toren's apparent knowledge of French and her superb ability to properly pronounce the French words and names made her rendition especially good. In many other books, the reader doesn't take the time to get the correct pronunciation of the proper names, but Ms. Toren did. Without question, this was the best reading of all the many Audible books I have read.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Extrodanarily researched with consideration for conflicting memories

I will read this again. I want to study the photos and learn their faces and names by heart. The history of this region during WWII was very slow to surface exactly for the reasons they were so successful at aiding the Jewish children - they are humble and did not seek attention for the many good deeds they carried out. I am looking forward to visiting the area, and seeing the museum that they reluctantly created. They don’t seek tourists crowding their town. But I must honor them by learning their stories well enough to retell them.

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Inspiring stories of survival in Vichy France

This is an important work that deals forthrightly with conflicts in wartime recollections of citizens of several small towns in the Massif Central as residents struggled with protecting fleeing Jewish victims of Vichy, France. It celebrates the triumph of spirit of an iconoclastic set of villages- even though some of the rescuers lost their own lives to the Nazis. The Chambonais tradition of religious dissent & piety was key as was the geographic isolation; and, Moorehead explains these factors as she investigates the complicated cast of victims, pastors and rescuers during WW2. A strong focus is on the plight of sheltered children- mostly orphans.
The narrator is simply superb.