Jewish Values: Village of Scoundrels

Place of Publication: 
New York
Publication Year: 
Number of Pages: 
304 p.
A suspenseful story of how the people of Les Lauzes, a small village on a high plateau in southeastern France, helped save hundreds of Jewish children and smuggle refugees to safety in Switzerland. The book is told (mostly) in chronological order, beginning in early December 1942 and ending on June 30, 1943. The main characters include Philippe, who helps smuggle the refugees across the border; Céleste, who carries messages back and forth to the maquis, the Resistance, in spite of her fears; Henni, a Jewish girl from Germany who hopes to one day be reunited with Max; Jean-Paul, who wants to study medicine but instead becomes a master forger; and Jules, a ten-year-old boy who outwits the authorities at every turn. The most intriguing character is Inspector Perdant (“Loser”), who comes to the village to “help save Europe from a terrible conspiracy and to help renew France to its former greatness through the goals championed by Marshal Pétain and the Vichy government”. As the plot moves along, Perdant begins to re-examine his motives and goals, as well as the truth underneath the lies: “these people would be sent to their deaths.” After a climactic struggle, Perdant finally comes to peace with himself and the truth—a heartening ending to a sometimes bleak novel. For people who like to know the facts behind the novel, Preus has generously given us biographies of the people upon whom she based her characters. In addition, she offers an extensive bibliography that includes books, documentaries, and exhibits. Although the story of the rescuers of Les Lauzes has been told before, Preus brings a fresh and vibrant retelling of this story of courage that we should never forget
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