East West Street (Paperback)Philippe Sands (author)
Interweaving the birth story of international human rights law with Sands' own personal quest to unveil the dark, unknown episodes of his own family’s war-time years, East West Street is history written with novelistic skill.
Waterstones Non-fiction Book of the Month for April (2017)
Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2016
I encountered a city of mythologies, a place of deep intellectual traditions where cultures and religions and languages clashed among the groups that lived together in the great mansion that was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The First World War collapsed the mansion, destroying an empire and unleashing forces that caused scores to be settled and much blood to be spilled.
In what Daniel Finkelstein in The Times described as ‘a work of great brilliance… everything that happens is inevitable and yet comes as a surprise… in places I gasped, in places I wept,’ East West Street is both a history of atrocity and a relentless, brilliantly-pitched search for the truth. By seeking out the decimated past of his own family, Sands unearths the then-controversial origins of international human rights itself.
An invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv sets international human rights lawyer Philippe Sands on a profound quest that will both unearth the origins of international law and fill the terrible gaps in his own family’s decimated history. In the process, he both wrestles with the outcome of the laws created at the time and delineates the death machine built to destroy an entire people.
Sands exhumes layer after layer of hidden detail, revealing the extraordinary story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who ultimately realise the man they are prosecuting may have been responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv.
These two remarkable men - Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin – sit at the heart of Sands’ exploration, whilst their quarry , Hitler’s personal lawyer Hans Frank, proves himself an equally compelling character. It is through Lauterpacht and Lemkin that the words 'crimes against humanity' and 'genocide' – at the time controversial notions – became part of both the judgement at Nuremberg and our lexicon of hate. The deeper Sands digs, he finally traces the grim events that overcame his own family during the Second World War.
A Professor of law at University College London, Philippe Sands QC has written widely on the subject of international law as well as participating in major legal cases with global implications, including taking part in the 1992 Climate Change Convention and legal cases concerning the Belmarsh and Guantánamo detainees.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 496
Weight: 360 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 30 mm
A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision - John le Carré
Supremely gripping. 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 to the high drama of the Nuremberg trials. One of the most gripping and powerful books imaginable - Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES
Important and engrossing. . . 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. . . an exceptional memoir - Lisa Appignanesi, 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
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
A fascinating and revealing book, for the things it explains: the origins of laws that changed our world, no less. It's also a readable book, and thoughtful, and compassionate. Most fundamentally, though, it's a book that tells a few individual human stories that lie behind the world-changing ones. That storytelling isn't redemptive - what could be, in this context? - but it confronts all those silences and challenges them. That challenge makes it an important book too - Daniel Hahn, THE SPECTATOR
A vivid and readable contribution, part memoir, part documentary, to the history debate ... Much of the most compelling material in this book is personal ... Moving and powerful - Mark Mazower, FINANCIAL TIMES
Outstanding ... This is the best kind of intellectual history. Sands puts the ideas of Lemkin and Lauterpacht in context and shows how they still resonate today, influencing Tony Blair, David Cameron and Barack Obama. When we think of the atrocities committed by Slobodan Milosevic or Bashar al-Assad, it is the ideas of these two Jewish refugees we turn to. Sands shows us in a clear, astonishing story where they came from - David Herman, NEW STATESMAN
In a triumph of astonishing research, Sands has brilliantly woven together several family stories which lead to the great denouement at the Nuremberg tribunal. No novel could possibly match such an important work of truth - Antony Beevor
A book like no other I have ever read - unputdownable and unforgettable - Orlando Figes
A beautiful and necessary book - A.L. Kennedy
Dazzling, shattering. EAST WEST STREET is one of the most extraordinary books that I have ever read - Antonia Fraser
An exacting, heroic, essential education - Peter Florence, DAILY TELEGRAPH
A masterpiece - Andrew Neather, EVENING STANDARD
A narrative to my knowledge unprecedented. . . a machine of power and beauty that should not be ignored by anyone in the United States or elsewhere who would believe there are irreparable crimes whose adjudication should not stop at the border - NEW YORK TIMES
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