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Through the life of one extraordinary man, this biography reveals what the term human rights meant to the men and women who endured two world wars, and how this major political and intellectual movement ultimately inspired and enshrined the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. René Cassin was a man of his generation, committed to moving from war to peace through international law, and whose work won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968. His life crossed all the major events of the first seventy years of the twentieth century, and illustrates the hopes, aspirations, failures and achievements of an entire generation. It shows how today's human rights regimes emerged from the First World War as a pacifist response to that catastrophe and how, after 1945, human rights became a way to go beyond the dangers of absolute state sovereignty, helping to create today's European project.Read more
- Biography of one of the key figures in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
- Traces the evolution of human rights linking the Great War, pacifism and the history of human rights to reveal that human rights emerged before the Holocaust as a major political and intellectual movement
- Reveals René Cassin's encounters with major political and cultural figures such as Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt and Pope Paul VI, and the broad reach and influence of the human rights movement
Reviews & endorsements
"Winter and Prost have written a marvelous book about the struggle for human rights as seen through the prism of the remarkable life and achievements of Rene Cassin ranging throughout the entire twentieth century. It is thoroughly researched, brilliantly presented, honest and humane in its treatment, and sound in its judgments. This is exactly the way that history and biography should be written."
Paul Gordon Lauren, University of MontanaSee more reviews
"At its best, biography provides a humanized window on to great historical developments. Prost and Winter have done just this. Along the way, readers are led through a fascinating narrative of the history of human rights in the twentieth century. This fine biography of Cassin is at least as much about Cassin’s causes as Cassin himself and Cassin himself would have been well pleased by it."
Leonard V. Smith, Oberlin College
"Almost killed as a soldier in 1914, René Cassin was a lawyer who became a veterans’ rights advocate, architect of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leading member of the French Jewish community after the Holocaust. Two eminent historians combine their strengths to paint a compelling portrait of this unique figure, whose life encompassed the best and the worst of the twentieth century."
John Horne, Trinity College Dublin
D. P. Forsythe, Choice
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- Date Published: June 2013
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107032569
- length: 397 pages
- dimensions: 233 x 155 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.79kg
- contains: 42 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction to the English edition
Part I. In the Shadow of the Great War:
1. Family and education, 1887–1914
2. The Great War and its aftermath
3. Cassin in Geneva
4. From nightmare to reality:
Part II. The Jurist of Free France:
5. Free France:
6. World war:
7. Restoring the Republican legal order: the 'Comité Juridique'
8. Freeze frame: René Cassin in 1944
Part III. The Struggle for Human Rights:
9. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: origins and echoes
10. The vice-president of the Conseil d'Etat, 1944–1960
11. A Jewish life
An essay on sources.
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