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

East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity." Knopf. May 2016. 448p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385350716. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9780385350723. HIST
The Holocaust was a tragedy for whole cities and towns as well as individuals and their families. The contrast among these levels of devastation underpins this gripping book, which centers on the lives of Leon Buchholz, the author's maternal grandfather; Hersch Lauterpacht; and Raphael Lemkin—the latter two experts in international law and important figures in the Nuremberg Trials. All three once resided in what is today the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Their experiences and Sands's (Torture Team) efforts to uncover the secrets and half-truths in their family stories form this fascinating account of forgetting, forgiving, and moving on. Lauterpacht, a key figure in the British prosecuting team, worked to indict the Nazis for "crimes against humanity." U.S.-based Lemkin championed the term genocide, which he invented. Both helped build the structure under which future war crimes could be adjudicated internationally. Neither strictly memoir nor history, Sands's study achieves a balance between the individual and the political that brings the events of the Holocaust into new focus.
VERDICT Readers interested in history, political science, and/or religion shouldn't miss this compelling work with unforgettable characters.
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