The Auvergne has always been the least well known region of France. Until the last decade of the twentieth century, its mountainous terrain enclosed a way of life that had changed very little for half a millennium, and the village of Laurenzac embodied the continuity of peasant existence that had once formed the backbone of western Europe. Yet it was no idyllic haven of peace and tranquillity. Rural communities, like continents, have their empires that rise and fall, their rivalries and power struggles, their selfless sacrifices and their cruelties, and Laurenzac was something of a microcosm in that respect. These tales, written in 1983, are drawn from the collective memory of the village and reveal the tensions leading to resentment, hatred and sometimes violence that a close-knit community can generate as well as the level of security and mutual support that it can provide.