East West Street Book Summary - East West Street Book explained in key points

East West Street summary

Philippe Sands

Brief summary

East West Street by Philippe Sands blends personal history and legal scholarship, tracing the evolution of international law through the lives of two architects of the Nuremberg Trials.

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    East West Street
    Summary of key ideas

    Exploring the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

    In East West Street by Philippe Sands, we embark on a journey through the origins of two legal concepts that have shaped the modern world: genocide and crimes against humanity. The narrative begins in the city of Lviv, a place that holds a significant personal and historical connection for the author. Sands introduces us to the lives of two legal scholars, Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, who were both born in this city.

    Lauterpacht and Lemkin, despite their shared origins, had vastly different experiences during World War II. Lauterpacht, a professor at Cambridge, lost most of his family in the Holocaust. Lemkin, on the other hand, lost his entire family in the same tragedy. These personal experiences deeply influenced their legal philosophies and their contributions to international law.

    The Legal Battle for Human Rights

    As the narrative unfolds, Sands delves into the legal battles fought at the Nuremberg Trials. Lauterpacht, representing the British government, argued for the recognition of individual rights in international law. Meanwhile, Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer, advocated for the recognition of group rights, coining the term 'genocide' to describe the systematic destruction of a people.

    These legal battles, as Sands illustrates, were not just about prosecuting war criminals. They were also about defining and protecting human rights on a global scale. The author's meticulous research and vivid storytelling bring to life the intense debates and personal struggles that shaped the legal framework for addressing mass atrocities.

    The Nuremberg Trials and Their Aftermath

    After the Nuremberg Trials, Lauterpacht and Lemkin continued their work, contributing to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their differing perspectives on individual and group rights, as Sands explains, profoundly influenced the legal language used in these foundational documents.

    However, despite their significant contributions, both Lauterpacht and Lemkin remained relatively unknown outside legal circles. Sands's exploration of their lives and legacies serves as a poignant reminder of the individuals behind the legal concepts that now form the bedrock of international justice.

    A Personal Journey Through History

    Interwoven with the stories of Lauterpacht and Lemkin, Sands also shares his own personal journey. As a descendant of Jewish survivors from Lviv, he grapples with the city's dark history and his family's past. His encounters with the descendants of Nazi officials and the perpetrators of the atrocities committed in Lviv add a deeply personal and emotional layer to the narrative.

    In conclusion, East West Street is a powerful exploration of the individuals and ideas that shaped our understanding of human rights and international justice. Sands's masterful storytelling and his ability to blend personal narratives with historical analysis make this book a compelling and deeply moving read.

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    What is East West Street about?

    East West Street is a gripping book that delves into the intertwined lives of four men who played influential roles in shaping the concept of genocide and crimes against humanity. Against the backdrop of World War II and the Nuremberg trials, Philippe Sands uncovers personal connections and legal innovations that have had a profound impact on our understanding of human rights and international law.

    East West Street Review

    East West Street (2016) by Philippe Sands is a captivating exploration of the origins of human rights and the impact of the Nuremberg Trials. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It weaves together personal stories, historical analysis, and legal insights, making it a thought-provoking and informative read.
    • The book uncovers the lives of two men who played pivotal roles in defining the crimes against humanity, making it a unique and engaging narrative.
    • With its meticulously researched details and profound exploration of identity and justice, the book brings a fresh perspective to the study of international law.

    Who should read East West Street?

    • History enthusiasts who are interested in World War II era and the Nuremberg trials
    • Readers with a passion for human rights and international law
    • Those who enjoy personal narratives intertwined with larger historical events

    About the Author

    Philippe Sands is a renowned international lawyer and author. He has worked on high-profile cases at the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Sands' book, East West Street, delves into the origins of international law and the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity. His other notable works include Torture Team and Lawless World. Sands' expertise and captivating writing style have made him a leading voice in the field of human rights and international justice.

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    East West Street FAQs 

    What is the main message of East West Street?

    The main message of East West Street is the exploration of the origins and development of the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

    How long does it take to read East West Street?

    The reading time of East West Street varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is East West Street a good book? Is it worth reading?

    East West Street is worth reading as it provides a profound understanding of the historical and legal significance of the Nuremberg Trials and the impact of international law on human rights.

    Who is the author of East West Street?

    The author of East West Street is Philippe Sands.

    What to read after East West Street?

    If you're wondering what to read next after East West Street, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson
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