Robert Harris brings life and real suspense to the over a hundred year old Dreyfus Case. Yes, the suspense is there, even if you know how it was all going to end up. Although it starts slow the book builds momentum like a great spy thriller. He does this through the eyes of Colonel Georges Picquart, the newly installed head of army intelligence who uncovers how Captain Alfred Dreyfus was framed as a German spy by the French high command with the full connivance of the intelligence unit he was commanding. Of course Dreyfus' crime was being a Jew in the wrong place. Dreyfus ends up in a really wrong place: Devil's Island.
Picquart is what we today would be called a "whistle-blower" as he gradually uncovers the incontrovertible fact that Dreyfus was innocent. For his efforts he is exiled to an out-of-the way unit in Tunisia and later jailed. It was his documentation that provided the source for Emile Zola's famous "J'Accuse" public letter to the French Army that puts in train Dreyfuss' ultimate release from jail and reappointment to the army.
Along the way we see Picquart's single and very modest daily life in the sights, sounds and smells of late 1890s Paris and his humanity with his affair with Pauline Monnier, a mother of two married to a French foreign service officer. We also smell the ugly stench of the French antisemitism of the period. After all it was the Dreyfus case that awakens the Austrian journalist, Theodore Herzl to the need of a Jewish State. All told I highly recommend "An Officer and a Spy."
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