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East West Street


by Phillipe Sands

‘A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision’ John le Carré

‘One of the most gripping and powerful books imaginable’ SUNDAY TIMES

Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction
JQ-Wingate Literary Prize
Hay Festival Medal for Prose

East West Street

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.

About the Author

Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at University College London and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers. He frequently appears before international courts, including the International Criminal Court and the World Court in The Hague, and has been involved in many of the most important cases of recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq and Guantanamo.

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Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 12.8 × 3.5 × 19.7 cm