Peter Grose’s tale of the astounding ‘rescue village ‘ of Le Chambon is not what you think it would be: no sentimental yarn of deliverance of all those the Nazi regime had in their sights, but a tale of practically delivered salvage of the hunted. It is a story resonant in our days, the age of refugees, and a grand narrative in its own right, all told with absorbing narrative skill. A book to cherish and recommend!
A beautifully written tribute to their community and an outstanding contribution to Holocaust literature.
Booklist (starred review)
Incredibly moving... Ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most extraordinary circumstances. A book full of love for the region. Grose underlines underlines the role played by the brilliant forger, Oscar Rosowsky. A reminder of the best that humans are capable of, but also an inspiration.
The Times Literary Supplement
Grose has written …ambitious book that covers, among other things, the history of French Protestantism and the policy of the Vichy government, It is, however, the individual stories that stand out. Some striking characters cross their pages. Albert Camus came to the plateau, hoping that the air would be good for his tuberculosis, and wrote the first draft of La Peste there. Virginia Hall, an American adventuress so hard-bitten that she would have made Ernest Hemingway look like Marcel Proust, was sent to contact the local Maquis. She received packets of tea with parachute drops of weapons and refused to accept that having a wooden leg and an atrocious accent might make her an unsuitable guerrilla leader. Above all, this book depicts the mosaic of little tragedies behind the collective tragedy of death and deportation.
There are numerous stories of individuals in occupied France sheltering Jews, but what makes this story different is that it tells the tale of a whole community taking collective action. The area, just south of Lyon, is Le Plateau, and the centre of activity was the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon tellingly, Huguenot territory. This meticulously researched, intriguing account documents the key figures, such as the pastor who galvanised community resolve to shelter the refugees at the risk of death, a young Jewish man who turned out to be a master forger (and who created thousands of false papers), an American operating under cover for the SOE as a journalist and many others. Peter Grose, in restrained prose that accentuates the sheer drama of the situation, delivers a salutary and resonant tale of a community rising to its best.
Well written in a pleasant style and easy to read... A fascinating and inspiring story.
The Association of Jewish Refugees Journal
A fine book and a captivating and heartening story.
Peter Grose's book stands out as a complete story about life on the Plateau during World War II. Peter uses only facts to tell us a true story. He is one of those rare raconteurs who can write a history book that reads like a novel.
Australian publisher and author Grose (Power to People; Operation Rollback) tells the inspiring story of courageous villagers, determined church leaders, and persecuted refugees in a journalistic style that many readers will enjoy. Beginning during the Spanish Civil War and picking up considerably during the dark days of World War II, thousands of adults and children sought shelter in a region of France known as the Loire Valley. Geographically remote, the isolated area and its largely Protestant population had a tradition of hospitality. As the war and Germany's grip on Europe intensified, the small villages of the valley, and especially Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, organized themselves under the leadership of several pacifist pastors, eventually providing a safe, even if only momentarily, harbor to an estimated 3,500 people. The bravery and scale of the housing operations were remarkable and have been internationally recognized by the World Center for Holocaust Research. VERDICT Joining other recent books on the topic, including Caroline Moorehead's Village of Secrets, this title is recommended for general audiences with an interest in World War II history and narrative.—Linda Frederiksen, Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver
In his American debut, Grose tells a little-known story of a pacifist pastor and the heroic Huguenot population of a plateau in France. These are the ordinary people of a handful of parishes who saved thousands from the Nazis. Word spread quickly that the villages around Le Chambon-sur-Lignon would help not only Jews, but also illegal aliens and young men avoiding deportation to Germany's factories. Perhaps it was the Huguenot background of persecution that fostered a people who kept secrets, minded their own business and helped their fellow sufferers. When André Trocmé took over as pastor from Charles Guillon, he preached nonviolent resistance and love of one's enemies. The plateau was a popular summer vacation spot and had little other attraction. There were no minerals, agriculture or wine production, which a nation at war might requisition, so it was effectively a safe haven. As a vacation spot, it had a wealth of guesthouses and hotels. All the pieces fell into place for the plateau after Trocmé met a Quaker who convinced him to take in children released from prison camps. Guillon moved to Geneva, where he was able to channel cash from American Quakers into the area. Oscar Rosowsky, an 18-year-old Latvian typewriter repairman, was a master forger, and Virginia Hall, an American spy, arranged for parachute supply drops after D-Day. In addition, some of the most important players in this operation were the Boy Scouts. Trocmé and many of his guides were Scouts with survival skills, and they were able to lead escapees safely to Switzerland. Almost everyone in the region took in at least one refugee, and they were so discreet that few neighbors knew of the others' actions. The author ably narrates this inspiring story of "the courage and leadership of some remarkable men and women." In chronicling the daring activity that went on for years, Grose keeps readers on edge with a heartwarming story of ordinary heroes who just did what was required.
Combines solid historical research with the tension of a spy novel. In the vein of Schindler's List, A Good Place to Hide is an inspiring account of the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.”
Peter Grose tells this story well. It reads like a thriller, but it is a well-researched book ... an excellent addition to history collections in all libraries.