** East West Street by Philippe Sands

East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” attempts an ambitious feat: to tell the story of how the Nuremberg trial first introduced the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity through the biographies of the two lawyers who created the concepts, and at the same time recount the life of his grandfather, who hailed from the same Polish town as the two lawyers.

The family history unfolds brilliantly, starting with tiny clues and photographs that his maternal grandfather, who never spoke about the war, left behind, and blossoming into the identification of long-lost witnesses and heroes who helped saved the family. The legal history I found much less compelling. It certainly is interesting that the two lawyers hailed from the same modestly sized town (and even more extraordinary that the town is the same as the author’s grandfather’s birthplace) but their lives seem much less relevant to the thread.

 

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