Philippe Sands' history of war crimes wins nonfiction prize

AP News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2016 6:11 PM
Philippe Sands' history of war crimes wins nonfiction prize

LONDON (AP) — Human rights lawyer Philippe Sands won Britain's leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday for a book about the fight to prosecute war crimes that blends historical investigation and family memoir.

"East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity" was awarded the 30,000-pound ($37,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a ceremony in London.

Sands, who has worked on cases at the International Criminal Court, called the book "a double detective story." It investigates both his family's flight from Nazi-occupied Europe and the origins of international human rights law in the post-World War II Nuremberg trials of senior Nazis.

Stephanie Flanders, who chaired the judging panel, said Sands had written "a multi-layered history that is impressive ion its own right but also a satisfying, suspenseful read."

Formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize, the award recognizes English-language nonfiction from any country.

Sands beat three other finalists: "Second-hand Time," by Belarusian Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Alexievich; Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson's Chicago memoir "Negroland"; and Libyan writer Hisham Matar's quest to discover his father's fate, "The Return."