Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Amazon Review of Robert Harris', "An Officer and A Spy: A Novel"

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."

For the Amazon URL, See:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R3867RKGHQ5IE 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Comcast, Time Warner and MSNBC

On November 12, 2012 I posted a very critical letter to Comcast CEO Brian Robert on how MSNBC was destroying the credibility of NBC News brand.  (See: http://shulmaven.blogspot.com/2012/11/my-letter-to-comcast-ceo-brian-roberts.html) Little did I realize that Brian Roberts was playing a long game. Comcast's ownership of MSNBC will effectively neuter their left-wing blowhards and their guests from criticizing the proposed mega-merger with Time Warner which will create a cable behemoth.

Had Disney been the buyer you would be hearing primal screams about undue concentration in media ownership. But now there will be silence. Instead of dealing with pressing national issues MSNBC will continue to fulminate about traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  Brian Roberts will be happy and I will be happy as my wife and daughter will continue to reap the gains associated with their share ownership in Comcast.