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  • East West Street

  • On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity"
  • Written by: Philippe Sands
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul, Philippe Sands
  • Length: 14 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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, once Hitler's personal lawyer, 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, with their different emphasis on the protection of individuals and groups. The defendant was no less compelling a character: Hans Frank, Hitler's personal lawyer, friend of Richard Strauss, collector of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, and governor-general of Nazi-occupied Poland.

A second strand to the book is more personal, as Sands traces the events that overwhelmed his mother's family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War and led his grandfather to leave his wife and daughter behind as war came to Europe. 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.

©2016 Philippe Sands (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about East West Street

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Spectacular listen

Recommended by a coworker and glad I purchased it. Fabulous look into the lives of people during and after the chaos of the war. Led me to look into more that Mr. Sands has to offer to the world both in print and audibly

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Poles apart

A story of duality, the group or the individual, known or concealed identity, truth and lies, evil and incredible wisdom and love. Mr. Sands wrote this docudrama in the nick of time as many of his sources were remarkably elderly people who would have otherwise taken their secrets with them. The gripping story contains many fortunate coincidences that enabled the dogged Mr. Sands to unravel his family history seemingly from just a few photos and items of memorabilia in his grandparents' Paris apartment. I love the way he compares and contrasts Lemkin and Lauterpacht throughout, lives again riddled with coincidence, until they are finally placed at the same conference after the war. The author's own doubts about the utility of labeling a crime genocide versus crimes of humanity against the individual nicely parallel the two Polish lawyers arguments in favor of each. The use of the author and the excellent David Rintoul as co-narrators works extremely well with Mr. Sands telling the parts related to his fascinating family history and Mr. Rintoul narrating the historical action including the rise of Nazism in middle Europe, the shifting sands of Lemberg/Lviv and eventually the Nuremberg trials. This is an extremely moving narrative with an extraordinary cast of characters such as the amazing Elsie Tilney, Very informative, a great listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • lori
  • 2018-05-07

Outstanding!

Author is truly committed to his calling. Excellent & comprehensive presentation. I recommend to young & old.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Ison
  • 2019-02-09

A story well told

Every student of history, every lover of a great mystery, and anyone who simply enjoys a story well told will be riveted by the journey Mr. Sands takes us on throughout East West Street. The narration is spot on, and the melodic integration of two voices makes for interesting listening. A true story told from legal, historical and personal perspectives so artfully woven that as an audio book it felt like a page turner. Written with both heartwrenching and heartwarming twists and turns as the story unfolds, Mr Sands has created a masterpiece.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Todd
  • 2017-03-13

A Moving Tribute both for International Law and to Countless Families Lost to the Holocaust

A Moving Tribute both for International Law and to Countless Families Lost to the Holocaust

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  • AnonUser10
  • 2017-03-18

A wondrous tale well told

This is a moving historical account beautifully rendered. It is not your typical history book. I highly recommend.

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  • Jeff Lacy
  • 2019-08-16

Incredibly researched; pulls you in

Sands doggedly researches through interviews, documents searches from the United States, England, and the European continent to bring to us a book that reads like a detective thriller that sucks you in. It is in one respect stories of families caught up in the holocaust of WWII, another about the Nuremberg trials, and the two brilliant lawyers from the same Polish town, one from the east side the other from the west, who developed the criminal offenses that would define international jurisprudence. Extremely engaging and interesting. Not just another book about the holocaust or the Nuremberg trial. Not only interesting for the lawyer like me, but anyone who likes an entertaining history read. Additionally the readers are excellent.

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  • Brendan Bernicker
  • 2016-06-12

Would be better on paper...

I really liked the story, but it would be better on paper. There are a lot of similar sounding names and discerning between them is essential to following the story line.

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  • Craig Forcese
  • 2016-06-01

Very powerful book -- and not just for international lawyers

In 2012, I saw Philippe Sands present on the story that ultimately culminated in this book, before an audience of international lawyers. He entranced us all. This book does the same. Yes, there is fascinating intellectual history. But this is also a deeply personal, deeply moving inquiry into origins, shared humanity and also the famous banality of evil. A triumph of scholarship and storytelling.

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  • Kirk R. Jones
  • 2018-05-27

One of the best books I've ever read

An incredible history of the author's family, of two titans of international law, and of Hitler's lawyer Hans Frank. Skillfully, patiently the writer brings these narratives together. A deserved winner of prestigious awards.

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  • jeffrey M goldfarb
  • 2016-07-05

Important lessons for today

East West Street is a must read for today because it reminds us that evil exists amongst us and must always be seen
Hans Frank's son was a family member who chose to disavow the evil of his father. A good lesson for nations.

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  • SaavyConsumer
  • 2022-06-29

Excellently researched and Brilliantly narrated

This is a must read/listen for anything truly interested in 20th International Law, political science and War.