SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Plateau

Riverhead. Aug. 2019. 368p. notes. ISBN 9781594634758. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698408739. SOC SCI
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At considerable personal risk, many residents of the Vivarais-Lignon region of France sheltered refugees of all ages and faiths from deportation by the Nazis during World War II. Building upon her research as a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Georgetown University fellow, anthropologist Paxson (Solovyovo) explores this particular region’s history of altruism. The compelling story of Daniel Trocme, who cared for stateless and homeless children in Le Chambon until he was arrested in a raid, deported to Buchenwald, and sent to his death at Majdanek in 1944, is interspersed with the personal and professional journey that led Paxson to the area. Villagers in the plateau currently shelter refugees from war-ravaged areas of the world.
VERDICT Paxson’s work offers a counterpoint to titles such a Anna Bikont’s The Crime and the Silence, which detailed how neighbors viciously turned on one another during World War II. Readers interested in World War II France, and anyone seeking reassurance that good exists in the world will appreciate this heartbreaking and hopeful text.

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