An Officer and a Spy

An Officer and a Spy

by Robert Harris
3.8 28

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An Officer and a Spy 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
This fictionalized chronology of L’Affaire Dreyfus describes one of the most appalling episodes in French history. It is told in the first person by Major (later Lt. Colonel) Georges Picquart, who played a minor role in the arrest of Captain Alfred Dreyfus for espionage and treason. Picquart acted as a Judas goat in bringing Dreyfus to his arrest and then served as the Minister of War’s eyes and ears at his ensuing trial and public disgrace. As a reward, Picquart was promoted and placed as the head of a secret spy agency where he ultimately learned of various discrepancies in the “evidence” which convicted Dreyfus before an army court martial. After initially believing in Dreyfus’ guilt, he then became convinced of his innocence and spent years, much to his misfortune, attempting to free the convict and clear his name, even himself ending up in prison and being forced out of his beloved army. The role of the establishment, the generals, the lies and cover-ups even after the truth is known is related in fine detail, as is the atmosphere of anti-Semitism prevalent in France which colored much of the Dreyfus case, since he, of course, was a Jew. The whole sordid affair followed soon after the French defeat in the Prussian French war and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, and was a forerunner of the First and Second World Wars. The author’s diligent research and fluid language prevail in a gripping recount of a well-known story, and is told with much poignancy, in an understated tone that makes history come alive. Highly recommended.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
Robert Harris has always written historical fiction that I have loved. Here he broaches the subject of a huge French spy conspiracy, that I admittedly had never heard about. While the late 1800s intrigue of the French spy game was interesting, there was little to no action. Because the readers are basically told early on that a certain character is not guilty there is little mystery. The courtroom drama was too long winded as the events are repeated sooooo many times that its tedious. The book wasn't bad but i was also not very good. Just a decent read about a very interesting topic. Robert Harris has done much more with much less.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The mezmerising drama in this brilliant novel contrasts a country's frightened masses (willing to avoid responsibility for thinking for themselves) and those who, despite their own peril, take full responsibility for what they know. The first category places ambition, prestige and lust for power well before legal procedure and human decency. One of the main features of sociopathy is a pronounced lack of conscience and we see countless 'group style' examples as it most often operates among the spineless. The main character, Colonel Picquart, falsely accused of being a spy, and during his first moments in prison, expresses the contrasts, "What more does a man want? I am imprisoned and I am liberated. The solitary burden of secrecy that I have carried all these months have been lifted." and "There are occasions when losing is a victory, so long as there is a fight." A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by the author but will not be the last based on this story! I had a hard time putting it down and was totally drawn in to the plot. I would highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have heard of the Dreyfus affair for years, but didn't know what exactly it was. Now I know. This book was a page turner. Very good!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written; just wish I had some knowledge of the French language which would have been helpful!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is somewhat hard to under stand at my age (12) but reading the pages twice is easer to understand what is happening.
Runner510 More than 1 year ago
A first-person narrative that encompasses France’s infamous Dreyfus Affair, which spanned over a decade, from 1894, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of passing military secrets to Germany, though 1906, when Dreyfus was found innocent and freed from imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Based on this account, though, one can now easily think of it as the Dreyfus-Picquart Affair.  It reads like an early version of Watergate, full of cover-ups, stonewalling, obstruction of justice, mortal threats, and other dirty tricks. The narrator is Georges Picquart, who as head of the French intelligence department, discovered the real traitor and tried to make the case over several years that Dreyfus was blameless, but who was undermined repeatedly in his quest by superiors (including ministers of war) and subordinates. His difficulties arose from the army’s attempts to preserve its honor in the scandal and by the fact that Dreyfus was Jewish and Alsatian (Alsace had been annexed by Germany after France’s defeat in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War) at a time when France was prone to anti-Semitism and nationalism. To demonstrate the military’s attempts to derail Picquart, for instance, at one point he is transferred from his post in Paris to Tunisia and assigned a mission that most likely would have resulted in his death, had he not simply refused to go. This is generally a fast-paced and intriguing account of the Affair, but given the narrative framework it is naturally focused mainly on Picquart’s experiences and observations, and though other major players (Emile Zola and Dreyfus’s family, for example) make their necessary appearances, the reader only glimpses the larger political and cultural forces at work at the time. Personally, I was intrigued enough by this book to wish I also had a more detailed historical account on a shelf nearby.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waiting lol
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Normally i dont love historical fiction because they speculate too much on thins that we could never really know. This author did a great jo of telling an amazing story and giving you a personal knowledge of the characters without over reaching
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this, I was hooked from the first paragraph! At first, I thought it was straight fiction but I quickly realized it was a fictionalized account of historic events in France: the Dreyfus court martial, cover up and eventual exposure at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Absolutely riveting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good read Dificult to pronounc the Gernan names and keep up with all characters involved Highly recomend .Good history