A Train of Powder by Rebecca West

July 2018

I bought this book for the trilogy of essays in it about the Nuremberg Trials and post-war Germany (“Greenhouse with Cyclamens” parts I, II and III). The first of these essays in particular, written in 1946, is utterly engrossing and quite devastating. West is unsparing and sometimes downright cruel in her characterization of others, and her acid commentary is perfectly suited to describing the defendants in the Nuremberg Trial (and the unrepentant German civilians who were never put on trial). I felt as though I were sitting in the courtroom with her, shuddering at the horrors and laughing at the absurdities. It’s a really remarkable piece of writing. The other essays in the book, while impressive in their own right, didn’t live up to the immersiveness of the first one, but that may just be because the Nuremberg Trials were my main interest here. In any case, “Greenhouse with Cyclamens I” was worth of the price of the book for me.

Further reading…