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East West Street

Length: 14 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (373 ratings)

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Summary

WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NONFICTION.

"A monumental achievement: profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision." (John le Carré)
"A triumph of astonishing research...no novel could possibly match such an important work of truth." (Antony Beevor)
"Magnificent...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." ( The Times)"Magnificent...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." ( The Times)

When human rights lawyer Philippe Sands received an invitation to deliver a lecture in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv, he began to uncover a series of extraordinary historical coincidences. It set him on a quest that would take him halfway around the world in an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg Trials.

In this part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller, Philippe Sands guides us between past and present as several interconnected stories unfold in parallel. The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trials, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murders of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, are remarkable men whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms crimes against humanity and genocide in the judgment 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Philippe Sands (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group

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I never write reviews....

So I have over 140 audio books on Audible and this is the first time I have been moved to write a review. This book is a staggering achievement. In turns it's a brilliantly researched history, a compelling memoir, a collection of incredible short stories and a compelling narrative of incredible scope. All of these elements are seemlessly weaved together into a compelling whole.
It's a book of sorrow and hope. Some passages left me close to tears, and yet others were uplifting and inspiring. Given that the Holocaust is the story underpinning the book its no surprise that it is a deeply moving. It's fitting that the book which explores the relationship between the individual and the group chooses to tell the story of the Holocaust through a collection of individual stories.
The narration is well done. The author narrates some elements, which give the book personality and authenticity. Long passages are given over to David Rintoul, who is a very adept narrator and allows the narrative to progress smoothly.
I can not recommend this book highly enough.

15 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, but perhaps not a great audiobook

This is an important and engrossing exploration of the origins of two key elements of human rights law (genocide and crimes against humanity) interspersed with an exploration of the author's own family background - all of it tied together by a consideration of the Holocaust and the Nuremberg trials. Formally, it is ambitious, combing memoir with historiography and biography. And it is an important book, offering a compelling exploration of the limitations of terms like 'genocide' in law while also retrieving important stories of ordinary people who showed quiet heroism during the second world war. I would unhesitatingly recommend it as a book but am not sure I would advise someone to try it as an audiobook. While the narrative is very well put together and often quite gripping, it is understandably dense in parts - and the structuring devise of exploring different lives in parallel to each other means that we sometimes get the same piece of information more than once, but at other times are told important facts only very briefly. With a printed book I would undoubtedly have wanted to go back and check details but with an audiobook this is much less straightforward, and I found it very difficult to keep track of names and details. An additional criticism I'd have is the use of two narrators, both Phillipe Sands himself and David Rintoul. Both are very good readers and I was happy to listen to them, but I found the movement from one to the other jarring: it's one narrative delivered in two voices and for such an intimate book that reduces its power, I think. I've given four stars for the performances because they are very good; likewise four stars for the content because it's a strong and important story. But I'm not convinced that it is suited to the audiobook format and feel that the use of two narrators made those problems more severe, for me anyway.

5 people found this helpful

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Outstanding insight, meticulous and moving

Other than historians and international lawyers you will not have heard of the lawyer Hersch Lauterpacht yet he is a very important figure in Philippe Sands' magnificent book.

East West Street is different and distinct in many meaningful ways, telling the fascinating story of the beginning of international human rights, but rather do so as dry legal history it focuses on two of the most significant individuals.

The author weaves the stories of Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin into Sands' own personal family story, which all tie into the 'city of lions' (Lviv/Lwow/Lemberg) in the first few decades of the 20th century. Both men and Sand's own family lived here, a place where East and West meet, hence the book's title.

It culminates into their assistance with the Nuremburg trials of ten senior Nazi figures, with Lauterpacht preparing the first drafts of the opening and closing speeches of the chief prosecution. Crucially he crafted the wording of Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, enshrining crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression into international law. Lemkin, in the same vein, constructed the concept of genocide, even coining the term.

And Sands discusses his detective work to find answers to numerous questions about his family. In the end his journey reveals tragedy, but a tragedy lightened by knowing the truth.

This is an outstanding book by a barrister, filmmaker and writer. It reeks of intellectual strength, and truly superb.

3 people found this helpful

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Spellbound ! One of the best books ever !

What made the experience of listening to East West Street the most enjoyable?

Aspects of the Nuremberg Trials unknown to me. Extremely informative and well written. An amazing audio experience. But also its relevance in today's world.the origins and dangers of genocide, brilliantly portrayed by the author.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author. Lemka

Which character – as performed by Philippe Sands and David Rintoul – was your favourite?

Lemka

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

One of the most astounding trials in history

Any additional comments?

Everyone ought to read

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

How Philippe Sands put this book together is beyond belief, the amount of research - historical documentation and family history - knits together like an, enormous, sometimes horrific and melancholic word quilt. Beautifully read tremendously moving it is a work of great importance.

3 people found this helpful

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Too much unnecessary detail

I was really interested in the subject of this book but the story was completely obscured by unnecessary detail and lists of irrelevant information. It got so much that I was struggling to actually follow along with the important parts!

1 person found this helpful

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A book in dire need of an editor

Tough going. Interminable detail that detracts from the story rather than adds to it. Really would have benefitted from some tight editing.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating

A thought provoking, inspiring and moving book. Like all the best books it inspires me to read up and research the background and history behind the themes and events.

1 person found this helpful

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Genre busting masterpiece

It was a good idea to divide the narration of such a long book between Philippe Sands, the author, and David Rintoul, one of the best Audible voices.

Personal and universal, past and present, well known history with new discovery with a strong sense of the relatedness of diverse human lives gave an immediacy and relevance to the discussion of the new legal concepts of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” which developed as WWII came to an end, and the first Nuremberg trial decided the fate of the most prominent Nazi criminals remaining, with the four major Allied powers cooperating, more or less, in that short space before the Cold War divided them.
Sands is himself a prominent international human rights lawyer - so by definition articulate, erudite (but not boring), and the background of his mother and her parents, European Jews forms the personal element of the book. Like many people who were not murdered in the Nazi era, they did not talk about their past, but Sands was prompted by an invitation to lecture in Lviv/Lvov/Lemberg, his grandfather’s home town, to investigate, with perseverance and ingenuity, that hidden family history, which is extraordinary to those of us who are privileged in NOT having grown up in Nazi Europe!
This book is sui generis.

1 person found this helpful

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East West Street

This is a fascinating book to listen to. Meticulously researched, well written And very well read

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carolien S
  • 01-08-19

International law made human

This is an incredibly interesting journey that combines family history and the origins of the legal terms crimes against humanity and genocide. Wonderfully narrated.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-04-19

Moving and magnificent!

Fascinating history, and a whole new perspective of the terms we take for granted in international law. I will listen to this book again. Masterfully written and beautifully read.

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  • Mr. P. D. Burdon
  • 13-10-16

Tremendous

Tremendous book. One of the most gripping Holocaust books I have read. Perfect blend of history, memoir and legal analysis.