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Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  818 ratings  ·  113 reviews
During the most terrible years of World War II, when inhumanity and political insanity held most of the world in their grip and the Nazi domination of Europe seemed irrevocable and unchallenged, a miraculous event took place in a small Protestant town in southern France called Le Chambon. There, quietly, peacefully, and in full view of the Vichy government and a nearby div ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published April 8th 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published 1979)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  818 ratings  ·  113 reviews


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Lewis Weinstein
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of Chambon is incredibly moving ... my wife and I had the experience of visiting the village and feeling the powerful sense of "goodness" which still resides there. This town, in a remote part of France, led by the Huguenot pastor Andre Trocme, was the place of refuge for perhaps 2500 Jewish children, hidden and then moved on to safety.

NOTE: for more detail about Chambon, please see my review of Caroline Moorehead's "Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France."
Roy Lotz
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
When you are a reader (and if you talk about book frequently enough to make sure other people know it), life has a funny way of throwing books in your path. You become the subject of everybody’s recommendations, an unwitting borrower of other people’s books, and the thankful recipient of literary gifts during the holidays. This book is a case in point: I would probably never have read it had it not been lent to me by a long-time friend.

Though Hallie was a philosopher of ethics, he seemed pretty
...more
Lisa
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not your typical Holocaust-rescue adventure. It is written by an ethicist from that point of view, and so includes much discussion of how the individuals who led the refugee-rescue efforts in Le Chambon sur Lignon came to be the kind of people who are toujours prete a servir--always willing to serve, especially Pastor Andre Trocme and his wife, Magda. The willingness of the people of the village to house and care for Jewish and other refugees, at the risk of their lives and the lives of ...more
Nick
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, history, ethics
A lovely, memorable story of a French village that displayed an unprecedented ethic of hospitality to refugees (especially to Jewish people) during the Occupation years of WWII. The book is written by an ethics professor who was intrigued by what happened in this small mountain community (the author himself is Jewish and so it was personal for him). The book centers on the Protestant pastor of the village, Andre Trochme and his wife Magda, and their commitment to non-violence. Though I do not sh ...more
Chrissie
About violent non-viloence. One has to read the book to understand this phrase. Given the way this world is today, and hey it hasn't been that peaceful in past times either, I recommend this book to everyone. Is there an alternative to the current mess, something that will really work? Maybe so if we start working on it NOW. Nothing works instantly, and even André Trocmé agreed that WWII was necessary. It was too late, war was necessary. Not being terribly religious myself, I mostly admired and ...more
Valerie
At a seminar on evil, a man who called himself the Decent Murderer argued that if there had been a thousand villages like Le Chambon, Hitler would never have been stopped. I agree with this: if there had been a thousand villages like Le Chambon, Hitler would never have gotten started in the first place.

Hitler personally only killed three people, including himself (some people argue for a fourth, but it was never proved). The others were killed by people who did what Hitler and his followers told
...more
Alan  Marr
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I did not know this story until I read about it recently in another book. It is the true story of the villagers of Le Chambon in France who rescued hundreds of Jews from certain death during WW2. It describes what can happen when people are courageous enough to act according to their conscience. The pastor was one of those annoying, uncompromising people who in normal circumstances would not be the easiest person to live and work with. His wife, who did not share his faith, shared his commitment ...more
Saklani
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This is not quite the book I expected, but there's a lot of good to reading about brave people doing dangerous things to save the lives of the persecuted.
Lorelei
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
First of all, I really love this book and would recommend it to anyone. However, it is a fascinating story made dull by philosophical musings that are repetitive and not terribly original. Not that it is bad philosophy, I just wish this story had been written by someone who was a story-teller first and a philosopher only when it adds to the experience. The entire population of a Protestant village in Vichy France steps up to save the lives of anyone who is threatened in WWII. They make themselve ...more
Karen
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Part history, part philosophy, _Lest Innocent Blood be Shed_ studies one example of proactive non-violence and how such a stance fits into a moral hierarchy.

Essentially, a tiny village of French Protestants followed their pastor's lead and rescued a great many Jewish refugees (mostly children) while so many others stood idly by. Hallie explores the hows and whys of their bravery without pointing fingers at their less helpful neighbors.

Truth be told, this book has restored my faith in humanity.
...more
Jonelle
Wonderful account of how a small village in France served as a place of refuge for thousands of Jews, especially children, during WWII. The author wasn't the greatest storyteller, but it would have been difficult not to find this story compelling.
Christine
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't know where this book came from, I found it on my bookshelf and decided to read it. The basic description of the book: people in Europe who went out of their way, did all they could and more, to save refugees in Europe during WWII....that's right up my alley!

I would give it 2 stars for writing. The beginning was long and slow. The author really tried to write it from the perspectives of the pastors who led the people of Le Chambon, France to save Jewish refugees during WWII. The pastors
...more
Beth
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
There were three places where the impossible or, at least, the unlikely, happened during WWII. Denmark, Bulgaria, and this little village in France showed evidence of humanity and a resistance to the evil the ran amok in Europe during the war. Unlike the books I've read about Denmark and Bulgaria, which were true histories, this one about Le Chambon is more of a treatise on non-violent Christianity and the work and beliefs of the spiritual leader in the village, Andre Trocme. I don't normally re ...more
Rachel B
This book tells the story of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in France who offered refuge to Jews fleeing in World War II.

The story and the people who are profiled are interesting... I found it curious that Pastor Trocme, who is described as a devout Christian, seems to lose his faith toward the end of the story, and that his wife Magda apparently was never a believer at all...?

The author is not a Christian, and as such, miracles were explained away with "good luck" or a belief in God, rat
...more
John
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I had not heard of this story before reading this book's back cover, so picked it up. Its a fascinating tale of a town, its pastor, and the sociology behavior of all who came within the presence of this non-violence force of a pastor. One can make a difference. Its also a discussion of morality and ethics in general and specific. That is why I gave it a 3 and not 4 as the reading sometimes is more like a thesis by the author on those topics, and less on the story. But others may find that a stro ...more
Allison
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book tells about the tremendous people of Le Chambon, in southern France, and how they defied both the Germans and the Vichy government.

While the people were brave, it is their leader, Andre Trocme', who gave them the heart and will to fight without ever harming their enemy. They saved many Jewish souls, and yet refused to hold a gun, a knife, or any weapon of any kind.

This is definitely part of WWII that needs to be known.

Note: I gave it four stars for the writing style, not for the story
...more
Charise
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii, 2018
This book differs from so many other books about WW2 because instead of focusing on HOW the events unfolded- who was involved, when it happened etc- it focused on WHY the people reacted in the ways that they did.
It's a interesting read but prepare to ponder the ethics of those involved rather than gathering a clear picture of the timeline of events in Le Chambon.
Gail
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wow- he needed an editor. So repetitive and poorly written. An interesting story- I will probably read the new book about this same town’s openness to refugees. But I slogged my way through it but lost hope after a while that it would get better.
Beth
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book - challenging example of creative maladjustment to society.
Greg
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compelling story of ordinary people doing the extraordinary through ordinary acts of hospitality in spite of great risk.
Margo
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent deep look into the ethics of religion and resistance wrapped up in a gripping and human story.
Maddy Barone
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book that makes me wonder what I would have done if I'd lived in Europe during the the Second World War.
Gregory
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It is an interesting combination of a history/biography and academic piece on ethics.
Josh
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, wwii, philosophy
This was a tremendously well-written book, and a fascinating and moving story. Highly recommended - you will not come away unaffected.
Dan Waugh
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not the best of storytellers, but offers great ethical reflection on goodness, morality, nonviolence, and more.
Thomas Christianson
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
An intriguing book which explorers morality and ethics through the lens of the actions of one small village in France during World War II.
Judy
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is the one-thousandth book I've marked as read on Goodreads. Since I've been a life-long reader, I'm sure there are many books that I haven't listed. Still, this is a milestone for me. I'm glad to make "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There" be my 1000th book. In fact I intentionally finished it to review it before others.

So much has been written about people risking their lives to protect Jews and others hunted and killed
...more
Natalie
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I devoured the first part of this book quickly, but then I got stuck in the middle. The story itself is magnificient. It's a tale of human goodness that touched me to the core. I had never heard of Le Chambon, the small French village that saved thousands of Jews during WWII so this book was new and fascinating to me. One of the Jewish refugees said that Le Chambon was the rainbow in the storm of the Holocaust.

I got stuck because the author kept going off on philosophizing tangents that distract
...more
Nick Coddington
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite books. While so many history books on the Holocaust deal with the tragedy of the concentration camps, and they should, this book centers on a relatively unknown event during the Shoah; the town of Le Chambon and how ordinary people risked their lives to save Jews from certain death.
The story is about the town's pastor, Andre Trocme, and how he and his wife inspired the town to save Jews and not be bystanders. It is a gripping tale that needs to be re
...more
AJ
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: soul
The events which unfolded in this little town during WWII are beautiful and tragic; the heroes and heroines are palpable – providing a realistic glimpse into a mentality which our society is desperately lacking, yet needs more now than ever. A must read to understand what motivates individuals to become redeemers and protect that which is most precious – life.

Excerpts:

“When France was liberated, there were no triumphal marches for Andre Trocme and his villagers through the streets of Paris or M
...more
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Philip Paul Hallie (1922-1994) was an author, philosopher and professor at Wesleyan University for 32 years. During World War II he served in the US Army. His degrees were from Harvard, Oxford (where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Jesus College from 1949 to 1951) and Grinnell College. He studied and wrote on the nature of cruelty.

His best-known book was "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed" (1979), which told
...more

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