Book Review: Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie

December 15, 2022

About:

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie tells of Le Chambon, a small hamlet of Protestants in Vichy France who were helping Jewish refugees escape. Mr. Hallie is a professor of Philosophy, he left a manuscript of this book which was posthumously published.

  • 303 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : Harper Perennial
  • Language ‏ : English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : 0060925175

Book Review: Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie
My rating for Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed4

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Thoughts:

The book tells of a small, but significant slice of history. The village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon became part of a wide network to rescue Jews from the Nazi killing machine. The movement, led by Huguenot pastor André Trocmé and his wife Magda is credited with saving at least 2,000 persons. This is the second book I’ve read about the Le Chambon, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead was the first.

In a moving narrative, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie shows the goodness that people are capable of, as well as the bravery it takes to act upon that calling. I wasn’t too thrilled to find out the author was a philosopher, as I’m more interested in the actions of real people as opposed to high-brow abstractions. Luckily, so was Mr. Hallie who mentioned abstract virtues in passing, while concentrating on the astounding story of a whole village (almost), cooperating to rescue Jews during World War II at much risk to themselves and everyone they know.

Why did poor villagers who barely had enough to eat risk everything to help others? This was at a time when many refused.
Why, and how does an entire community gather together to work for a common goal in great peril?

Pastor Trocmé and his wife led the rescue effort, sticking to their ethical ideology unwaveringly and with fortitude. The Huguenots, with their history of persecution, were more than willing to help.

Focusing on personality, history, and culture, the book brings context to the conviction of Le Chambon which many find difficult to understand. Ethics, for Mr. Hallie, is not about abstraction, but about how people act when they are called up in the present, and whether the call to action is answered.

The people of Le Chambon answered quietly and their stories deserved to be told. Both André and Magda Trocmé were honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.

 

Buy Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed from Amazon.com*
More Books by Philip Paul Hallie*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I borrowed this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Wrap Up

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Paul Hallie

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