Kirkus Reviews
June 1, 2013, Saturday

The Autobiography of Raphael Lemkin


A previously unpublished biography of a pioneer in the field of
international law who is responsible for inventing the word "genocide"
and defining legal terms for preventing future genocidal acts. When
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Lemkin died in 1959, the manuscript of his
biography was near completion. However, it is only recently that
Jewish historian Frieze digitized Lemkin's manuscript and, in the
process, pulled the biography together into a readable narrative.

The story of Lemkin's life begins with recollections of his early
years on a farm in Lithuania (b. 1900), where he became engrossed with
the natural world surrounding him and, also, began a fascination with
reading about historical instances of group persecution. As the deputy
public prosecutor of Warsaw, the Armenian genocide drove Lemkin toward
a focus on the prevention of government attempts at destroying a
collective identity. For Lemkin, the act of genocide did not just
target the lives of a particular group, but it also aimed to destroy
the cultural identity of the persecuted minority. The realities of
genocide became personal when Lemkin was forced to flee Nazi-occupied
Poland, while his family back in Poland fell as victims of the
Holocaust. After making it to America, Lemkin sacrificed his physical
health, the comforts of family life and the financial stability
associated with faculty appointments at Duke and Yale to dedicate his
life to alerting the world to the dangers of genocide. His dedication
bore fruit when the United Nations ratified the Genocide Convention,
but Raphael would spend the rest of his life alone and in poverty.
Although the particulars of the inner workings of the U.N. can be
overwhelming, the story is enriched by Lemkin's keen eye for
describing the environment and characters that he encounters. An
engaging account of one man's determination to overcome personal,
financial and bureaucratic obstacles in his quest to pass a landmark
law that would protect collective cultural life and identity

Publication Date: 2013-06-18
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Stage: Adult
ISBN: 978-0-300-18696-3
Price: $35.00
Author: Lemkin, Raphael

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress