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East West Street On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

by Philippe Sands

History The Real World

East West Street On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Synopsis

WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION SHORTLISTED FOR THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY AWARD AND JQ-WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE

The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trial, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, were remarkable men, whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms 'crimes against humanity' and 'genocide' in the judgement at Nuremberg. The defendant, Hans Frank, Hitler's personal lawyer and Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, turns out to be an equally compelling character. The lives of these three men lead Sands to a more personal story, as he traces the events that overwhelmed his mother's family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War. At the heart of this book is an equally personal quest to understand the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated Sands' work as a lawyer. Eventually, he finds unexpected answers to his questions about his family, in this powerful meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations, and the haunting gaps left by the secrets of others.

East West Street On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Press Reviews

'A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision' -- John le Carre

'Supremely gripping ... There are, of course, plenty of books about the Nazis, the Holocaust and the Nuremberg trials. When I picked up Sands's, I have to confess that my heart sank at the thought of another. Then I started reading. A few hours later, I looked up and realised that it was past midnight. When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was to reach for the book, and then I kept reading until I had finished it ... Sands has produced something extraordinary. Written with novelistic skill, its prose effortlessly poised, its tone perfectly judged, his book teems with life, from the bustling streets of Habsburg Lviv, with its handsome cafes and grand new opera house, to the high drama of the Nuremberg trials, with their rich cast of colourful characters. Often it is almost intolerably poignant ... But it is also a reminder that, even in the deepest darkness, there were glimmers of extraordinary heroism. One short chapter alone ... is one of the most moving accounts of human compassion I have ever read. For Sands, given his family's history, this must have been an enormously painful endeavour. But the result is one of the most gripping and powerful books imaginable.' -- Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES

'Important and engrossing ... The surprise is that even when charting the complexities of law, Sands's writing has the intrigue, verve and material density of a first-rate thriller ... He can magic whole histories of wartime heroism out of addresses eight decades old. Or, chasing the lead of a faded photograph, he can unearth possible alternate grandparents and illicit liaisons to be verified only by DNA tests ...' EAST WEST STREET is an exceptional memoir' -- Lisa Appignanesi THE OBSERVER

'Engrossing ... Sands has written a remarkable and enjoyable book, deftly weaving his own family history into a lively account of the travails of the early campaigners for international human rights law' -- Caroline Moorhead LITERARY REVIEW

'EAST WEST STREET is a magnificent book. A work of great brilliance. There is narrative sweep and intellectual grip. Everything that happens is inevitable and yet comes as a surprise. I was moved to anger and to pity. In places I gasped, in places I wept. I wanted to reach the end. I couldn't wait to reach the end. And then when I got there I didn't want to be at the end' -- Daniel Finkelstein THE TIMES

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781474601917
Publication date: 31/03/2017
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781474601900
Publication date: 26/05/2016
Publisher:
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781474601900
Publication date: 26th May 2016
Author: Philippe Sands
Publisher:
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 496 pages
Genres: History, The Real World,
Categories: Memoirs, International human rights law, Genocide & ethnic cleansing, Second World War, War crimes,

About Philippe Sands

Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at University College London and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers. He has been involved in many of the most important international cases of recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq and Guantanamo. His previous books include LAWLESS WORLD and TORTURE TEAM. He is a frequent contributor to the FINANCIAL TIMES, GUARDIAN, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS and VANITY FAIR, makes regular appearances on radio and television, and serves on the boards of English PEN and the Hay Festival. Author photo © Antonio Zaueta Olmos

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