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Philippe Sands' history of war crimes wins nonfiction prize

Associated Press Associated Press 15/11/2016
FILE- In this Monday, March 31, 2014 file photo, human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, listens to General Counsel Bill Campbell (not pictured) as they wait for the International Court of Justice to deliver its verdict in The Hague, Netherlands. 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. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis, File) © The Associated Press FILE- In this Monday, March 31, 2014 file photo, human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, listens to General Counsel Bill Campbell (not pictured) as they wait for the International Court of Justice to deliver its verdict in The Hague, Netherlands. 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. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis, File)

LONDON — 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."

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