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A Train of Powder by Rebecca West
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A Train of Powder (1955)

by Rebecca West

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Includes several essays from Rebecca West's days as a journalist. The essays covered the Nuremberg trials, a lynching trial in South Carolina, a murder trial in the UK and a treason trial in the UK. Very interesting reading! ( )
  LisaMorr | Jan 27, 2016 |
Essays about the Nuremburg trials; Rebecca West covered these for a magazine at the time and used this experience to write 'A train of Powder'. This experience gives her a particular persepctive. An excellent and interesting account. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Jun 22, 2010 |
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What makes a man a traitor to his country was the question Miss West first put to herself. And the logic, both social and psychological, with which she has moved from the study of cases of treason to cases of individual or group violence, searching out the pattern of defiance of the law which is the common denominator of spies and murderers, is unassailable. . . Miss West's pictures of Mrs. Hume, of the parents of Marshall, of the families of the Greenville lynchers are all portraits which, although shrewd, lack the kind of truth which is finally supplied only by simple warmth and compassion -- the wall of her superior powers would seem to rise between Miss West and these suffering human beings. Of course, if tenderness were also within her gift, it might incapacitate Miss West as a reporter. It is quite possible she must do without this one more talent in order to make such full use of her superb intellectual gifts.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rebecca Westprimary authorall editionscalculated
Panter-Downes, MollieForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Margaret Rhondda with deep affection
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There rushed up towards the plane the astonishing face of the world's enemy : pinewoods on little hills, grey-green glossy lakes, too small ever to be anything but smooth, gardens tall with red-tongued beans, fields striped with copper wheat, russet-roofed villages with headlong gables and pumpkin-steeple churches that no architect over seven could have designed.
In 1966 Rebecca West reviewed for Harper's Magazine the 'grave and reverend book' In Cold Blood, Truman Capote's account of the motiveless murder by two ex-convicts of a Kansas farmer, his wife, and their teenaged daughter and son. (Introduction)
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From the back cover: 'No course of action is so mad that some human being will not adopt it', wrote Rebecca West, and the longest part of this remarkable book on postwar trials is her report on the aftermath of Germany's vast national insanity. In 1946 Rebecca West was commissioned by the Daily Telegraph to write three articles on the Nuremberg Trials. She went to Nuremberg that year to hear the closing of the British and US cases and, later, the judgment and sentences. This is her journalism at its most brilliant and evocative: in the eleventh month of the trials she describes Nuremberg as a 'citadel of boredom', tedium pervading every street, every house. Here too is her careful and illuminating study of the process of law itself, her fascination with its human aspects and the collective moral will. In 1949 she went again, writing this time about the rebuilding of Germany, and in 1954 she produced a fascinating theoretical and retrospective study of Nuremberg.

Several other pieces contribute to the book's extraordinary range, including an account of Marshall's treason and two penetrating pieces of crime reportage, 'Mr Setty and Mr Hume', on a murder trial in the fifties, and 'Opera in Greenville', the story of a lynching in the American South. She brings her subjects vividly to life with fascinating biographical and physical detail, and, as in all her work, eloquently explores the nature of good and evil, the forces of life and death. These essays confirm Rebecca West's reputation as on of the most distinguished political journalists of our time.
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West’s acclaimed account of a pivotal moment in twentieth century history—now available as an ebook West’s exceptional observational skills shine in her coverage 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.… (more)

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