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The Plateau
by Maggie Paxson




Overview -
Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award

Named a Best Book of 2019 by BookPage

During World War II, French villagers offered safe harbor to countless strangers--mostly children--as they fled for their lives. The same place offers refuge to migrants today. Why?

In a remote pocket of Nazi-held France, ordinary people risked their lives to rescue many hundreds of strangers, mostly Jewish children. Was this a fluke of history, or something more? Anthropologist Maggie Paxson, certainties shaken by years of studying strife, arrives on the Plateau to explore this phenomenon: What are the traits that make a group choose selflessness?

In this beautiful, wind-blown place, Paxson discovers a tradition of offering refuge that dates back centuries. But it is the story of a distant relative that provides the beacon for which she has been searching. Restless and idealistic, Daniel Trocm had found a life of meaning and purpose--or it found him--sheltering a group of children on the Plateau, until the Holocaust came for him, too. Paxson's journey into past and present turns up new answers, new questions, and a renewed faith in the possibilities for us all, in an age when global conflict has set millions adrift. Riveting, multilayered, and intensely personal, The Plateau is a deeply inspiring journey into the central conundrum of our time.

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More About The Plateau by Maggie Paxson

 
 
 

Overview

Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award

Named a Best Book of 2019 by BookPage

During World War II, French villagers offered safe harbor to countless strangers--mostly children--as they fled for their lives. The same place offers refuge to migrants today. Why?

In a remote pocket of Nazi-held France, ordinary people risked their lives to rescue many hundreds of strangers, mostly Jewish children. Was this a fluke of history, or something more? Anthropologist Maggie Paxson, certainties shaken by years of studying strife, arrives on the Plateau to explore this phenomenon: What are the traits that make a group choose selflessness?

In this beautiful, wind-blown place, Paxson discovers a tradition of offering refuge that dates back centuries. But it is the story of a distant relative that provides the beacon for which she has been searching. Restless and idealistic, Daniel Trocm had found a life of meaning and purpose--or it found him--sheltering a group of children on the Plateau, until the Holocaust came for him, too. Paxson's journey into past and present turns up new answers, new questions, and a renewed faith in the possibilities for us all, in an age when global conflict has set millions adrift. Riveting, multilayered, and intensely personal, The Plateau is a deeply inspiring journey into the central conundrum of our time.


This item is Non-Returnable.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594634758
  • ISBN-10: 1594634750
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: August 2019
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

The Plateau

Maggie Paxson is an anthropologist who uses analytical methods to see how groups of people click. In her fieldwork, Paxson has seen countless examples of conflict and violence—so many, in fact, that she didn’t want to study war no more (as the old spiritual goes). She wanted to study peace. But instead of going “down by the riverside,” Paxson went to a plateau: the Plateau du Vivarais-Lignon in southern France.

The people of the plateau are extraordinary. They have provided refuge to the hunted and unwanted for centuries. Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, honored the plateau village of Le Chambon as “Righteous Among Nations” for their aid to Jewish refugees. Daniel Trocmé, who was a distant relative of Paxson, died in a concentration camp because he refused to abandon his Jewish students. Even now, the plateau continues to welcome and protect refugees. Here, Paxson thought, was the perfect laboratory for determining how peace can be created by a community. The Plateau is the result.

Paxson soon discovered that, unlike the individual acts of violence that make up a war, peace cannot be counted. Peace is not linear but is the result of the deliberate interaction of the past with the present to create a future. Consequently, Paxson’s book is also nonlinear. She pieces together her own memories, observations from her life among the inhabitants of the plateau and, especially, the details of Daniel Trocmé’s life and death. Paxson’s beautiful writing threads these stories together so exquisitely that at times I had to stop and take a breath, even cry, before carrying on.

Although it has elements of memoir, biography and anthropological fieldwork, The Plateau is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a complex portrait of a place whose inhabitants have made a commitment to loving the stranger who arrives at their door, even when to do so demands the greatest sacrifice. Paxson acknowledges the difficulty and danger that this kind of love demands, but ultimately The Plateau demonstrates that it isn’t an impossible ideal to achieve. It is real and attainable, because it has been and continues to be practiced on the plateau.

 

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