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Follow the Author
A Train of Powder Kindle Edition
About the Author
- ASIN : B00BBPW8ZS
- Publisher : Open Road Media (December 21, 2010)
- Publication date : December 21, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 3586 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 322 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #689,051 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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However, much of the book contains excruciating detail and meandering about events which she considers seminal. Her chapter describing the lynching trial in South Carolina provides worthwhile insights into the times and she has an an extraordinary ability to bring the victim, accused and accusers to life. Her perspective as an English journalist is particularly rewarding. At the other end of the spectrum are her laborious descriptions of post-war Germany that leave the reader searching for a theme.
In the end, there are parts of the book that are worth the meandering journey and it is interesting to view the world as it was in 1954
First, if one is interested in the historical and legal complexity represented by the Nuremburg Tribunal this book will be no more than partially satisfactory. While West certainly had the intellect to address those aspects of the trial, this was not her focus. Moreover, no first hand account of the proceedings in Nuremburg or the environment surrounding them could possibly offer the perspective enjoyed by subsequent histories.
That said, West does offer one of the most interesting and insightful descriptions of the defendants, the Allied personnel who were there to support the proceedings, and daily life in Nuremburg during the trials. In fact, she so effectively conveys the quotidian aspects of the Tribunal and its host city that I now feel for the first time that an understanding of the Tribunal's workings. I suspect that many of us have been unconsciously mislead by cinematic treatments of these events. Even the best of them suggest an epic quality felt by none of the Tribunal support staff, most of whom were young soldiers eager to return home after the war and for whom the Tribunal was simply another duty. West also enables us to understand how the daily challenges of life in a war-ravaged country left both Germans and occupying armies mostly unable to pay much attention to the proceedings of the Tribunal.
Finally, West's magnificent prose may be difficult for some younger readers who did not learn about the world from print journalists who took writing at least as seriously as "reporting." For those of us lucky enough to have been born long before the era of Twitter and Facebook posts, however, her writing is a joy. Her portraits of individual defendants and ordinary Nuremburgers are not only aesthetically wonderful; they capture and convey traits of vanity, banality, cunning, and courage better than anything I have read.
A Train of Powder did not enhance my understanding of the historical significance of the victors' having staged a Tribunal to hold key Nazis accountable for their actions. It did, however, enhance my grasp of how it was done .
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't give West's book your attention. The book is actually a series of short stories, all dealing with trials occurring in the aftermath of World War II. She begins with an account of Nuremberg, and the details West is known for shine through in her descriptions of the accused, of the town, of the supporting characters all shine. But she also delves deeper, giving insight into what she feels is the true goal of international law.
Some of the other stories are even stronger. West describes the trial of a man accused of murder, who allegedly threw the pieces of the body into the sea. Again, the details are poignant: she presents both sides of the story, describes the marsh and the family of the man who found the body, the wife of the accused. These are small pieces, often left unnoticed in accounts that chillingly recite facts.
Over and over, West contemplates the guilt of the accused, and often the reasons behind bringing him to stand trial. Her observations are nuanced, and rather than a simple rendering of both sides of the story, you can almost imagine that she's having an inner dialog with herself.
Readers will need patience. West goes not directly from beginning to end, but her questioning commentary is well worth the journey. The essays on the Nuremburg Trials are not only about punishing Nazi war criminals, but also about Germany and the Germans, rebuilding after the war, under the varying supervision of Soviet, British, American and French officials, themselves adjusting to the postwar period. The three British criminal cases were likely carefully chosen to show how challenging is the law's job in delivering justice. Well recommended.