Rebecca West’s exceptional observational skills shine in her acclaimed account of the Nuremburg trials
Sent to cover the war crimes trials at Nuremberg for the New Yorker, Rebecca West brought along her inimitable skills for understanding a place and its people. In these accomplished articles, West captures the world that sprung up to process the Nazi leaders; from the city’s war-torn structures to the courtroom security measures, no detail is left out. West’s unparalleled grasp on human motivations and character offers particular insight into the judges, prosecutors, and of course the defendants themselves. This remarkable narrative captures the social and political ramifications of a world recovering from the divisions of war. As engaging as it is informative, this collection represents West’s finest hour as a reporter. “Her historical, political, social, and psychological discursiveness . . . is her way of telling us that no individual or individual idea or individual situation is without connection with the whole past, present, and future of mankind, and that this is so even while we hold fast our image of the uniqueness of each human instance.” —The New York Times
“A Train of Powder should be given to every juror in every capital case to supplement the judge’s instructions. . . . As compelling as Court TV but without the frisson of voyeurism (and with the compensatory satisfactions of West’s breathtakingly lucid prose style), these elegant narratives remind us of the preciousness and fragility of our right to trial by jury.” —Francine Prose, Tin House Dame Rebecca West (1892–1983) is one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists, journalists, and literary critics of the twentieth century. Uniquely wide-ranging in subject matter and breathtakingly intelligent in her ability to take on the oldest and knottiest problems of human relations, West was a thoroughly entertaining public intellectual. In her eleven novels, beginning with The Return of the Soldier, she explored topics including feminism, socialism, love, betrayal, and identity. West’s prolific journalistic works include her coverage of the Nuremberg trials for the New Yorker, published as A Train of Powder, and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, her epic study of Yugoslavia. She had a son with H.G. Wells, and later married banker Henry Maxwell Andrews, continuing to write, and publish, until she died in London at age ninety.