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READ KINDLE ⚛ An Officer and a Spy ¸ Robert Harris Returns To The Thrilling Historical Fiction He Has So Brilliantly Made His Own This Is The Story Of The Infamous Dreyfus Affair Told As A Chillingly Dark, Hard Edged Novel Of Conspiracy And Espionage Paris In Alfred Dreyfus, A Young Jewish Officer, Has Just Been Convicted Of Treason, Sentenced To Life Imprisonment At Devil S Island, And Stripped Of His Rank In Front Of A Baying Crowd Of Twenty Thousand Among The Witnesses To His Humiliation Is Georges Picquart, The Ambitious, Intellectual, Recently Promoted Head Of The Counterespionage Agency That Proved Dreyfus Had Passed Secrets To The Germans At First, Picquart Firmly Believes In Dreyfus S Guilt But It Is Not Long After Dreyfus Is Delivered To His Desolate Prison That Picquart Stumbles On Information That Leads Him To Suspect That There Is Still A Spy At Large In The French Military As Evidence Of The Most Malignant Deceit Mounts And Spirals Inexorably Toward The Uppermost Levels Of Government, Picquart Is Compelled To Question Not Only The Case Against Dreyfus But Also His Most Deeply Held Beliefs About His Country, And About Himself Bringing To Life The Scandal That Mesmerized The World At The Turn Of The Twentieth Century, Robert Harris Tells A Tale Of Uncanny Timeliness A Witch Hunt, Secret Tribunals, Out Of Control Intelligence Agencies, The Fate Of A Whistle Blower Richly Dramatized With The Singular Storytelling Mastery That Has Marked All Of His Internationally Best Selling Novels Robert Harris has done it again He has written a historical novel that dragged me in so deep that it made me feel uncomfortable as if I was the protagonist Nail biting stuff This time the book is about the Dreyfus affair, a real historic event that took place in between 1894 and 1906.The story is told by Colonel Georges Picquart, who becomes head of counter espionage and finds out that there is something really fishy about the whole affair.This affair had the whole country France devided at the time One of the supporters of Dreyfus was the writer mile Zola.Part two of the book in particular is exciting and from then on the book is hard to put down.This story shows that anti semitism was very much alive around that time in France It also shows that politics have always had a dirty side to it Robert Harris already showed that in the two Cicero books as well With Pompeii, the two books about Cicero, Enigma, Archangel and now an officer and a spy, Robert Harris has proven to be one of the best writers of historical fiction I m already looking forward to his next book Hopefully it will be the third book in his Cicero trilogy but if not, I won t complain as everything I ve read of his work so far has been brilliant I still have to read Fatherland, come to think of it. There is no such thing as a secret not really, not in the modern world, not with photography and telegraphy and railways and newspaper presses The old days of an inner circle of like minded souls communicating with parchment and quill pens are gone Sooner or later most things will be revealed Captain Alfred Dreyfus s mugshotGeorges Picquart was as convinced of Captain Alfred Dreyfus s guilt as anyone else in 1894 In fact for the invaluable service he provided during the affair he becomes the youngest Lieutenant Colonel in the French military He is also promoted to head the Intelligence department, not the most prestigious appointment given that spying was considered rather unseemly, rather ungentlemanlyThe air warms up and very soon Paris starts to reek of shit The stench rises out of the sewers and settles over the city like a putrid gas In the newspapers the experts are unanimous that it isn t as bad as the original great stink of 1880 It is impossible to stand on one s balcony, complains Le Figaro, impossible to sit on the terrace of one of the busy, joyful cafes that are the pride of our boulevards, without thinking that one must be downwind from some uncouth, invisible giant The smell infiltrates one s hair and clothes and settles in one s nostrils, even on one s tongue, so that everything tastes of corruption Such is the atmosphere on the day I take charge of the Statistical SectionMajor Esterhazy His head in profile is flattish and tapers like a vulture s to a great beak of a nose His moustache is large and swept back His eyes are round and protuberant not natural, but crazy, like glass balls pressed into the skull of a skeleton in a medical school The stench becomes all consuming when Picquart sees a photocopy of the famous Bordereau Letter that was so pivotal in the conviction of Dreyfus The problem is Picquart recognizes the handwriting, an almost exact match to a Major Ferdinand Esterhazy A man he suspects of trying to sell secrets to the Germans In the course of convicting Dreyfus several handwriting experts were consulting until finally they found one that said that Dreyfus was the probable author of the letter You might be downwind of that uncouth Giant yourself about right now The famous Bordereau Letter that incriminated Dreyfus, but should have exonerated him The original copy of the letter mysteriously disappeared in the 1940s.So what is this really all about The evidence against Dreyfus is built on such a tissue of lies that it is impossible to believe that any reasonable person could have found him guilty Did I happen to mention that Dreyfus was Jewish This all really begins back in 1870 when Germany started a unification program Two regions Alsace and Moselle were annexed by the Germans The result of this German aggression is the Franco Prussian War that was disastrous for the French They are soundly defeated despite having a large standing army and a jump start on mobilization The Germans moved quickly, had a better understanding of the current technologies, and how to best deploy them in war Their troops, to the surprise of the French, turned out to be better trained and were lead by competent commanders This defeat leads to a time of zealous nationalism and riding along in the sidecar right along with nationalism is a rise of antisemitism When word spreads that there is a spy in the French army it only makes sense that it must be a Jew Dreyfus as a rabbit about to be stewed.Down with the Jews Death to the Jews The anger of the population is boiling, misplaced though it may be, they are convinced that the Jews in some way, some mystical fashion, contributed to the defeat in 1870 As Picquart continues to investigate Esterhazy, finding and evidence that he is a much better candidate to be the German spy than Dreyfus, it becomes apparent that his commanding officers, a covey of white haired generals, are not interested in reopening the Dreyfus case Picquart is inexplicably reassigned to a unit in Tunisia The Siberia of French outposts Georges Picquart in his Tunisian Uniform.Finally after months of idleness with no word on when he can return to Paris, he requests a weeks leave and returns to Paris to turn over all his information to his lawyer who then takes that information to the man of impeccable character who also happens to be wealthy enough to withstand bribes or threats, Senator Auguste Scheurer Kestner The French generals start to act guilty Strange, potentially incriminating cables are sent to Picquart He is arrested and brought up on a series of charges Emile Zola, a great advocate of Dreyfus and Picquart, is put on trial and convicted to a year in prison The truth proves to be such a dangerous thing to know Emile Zola was sentenced to prison for the zeal in which he called for Dreyfus to be released He escaped to England one step ahead of men coming to arrest him.Picquart, when he discovers a mounting level of evidence that than pokes holes in the flimsy conviction of Dreyfus, but actually completely destroys the case against Dreyfus, his first thought is that all of it needed to be brought into the light of day and dealt with before the newspapers get wind of the incongruities infesting the evidence against Dreyfus After all a secret never remains a secret There is little one can do especially in this time period when the power of an organization as formidable as the army decides to fabricate charges against a citizen, backed by a population who wants to see a Jew convicted and wants to see Picquart broken for trying to defend a Jew Imprisoned Picquart feels a strange sense of relief The secrets are no longer just his secrets His needs are simple He merely needs to feed the mindIf my enemies on the General Staff imagine that this represents some kind of hardship for me, they are mistaken I have a bed and a chair, pen and paper, and plenty of books Goethe, Heine, Ibsen, Proust kindly sends me his collected writings, Les Plaisirs et les Jours my sister a new French Russian dictionary What does a man want I am imprisoned and liberated As a reader, if I have access to books, I m almost impossible to imprison Books allow me to be anywhere I want to be Gray damp walls may surround me, iron bars might grid my vision, but my mind can always fly Picquart as a way to relax translates Fyodor Dostoyevsky into French I liked and respected Picquart, but when I learned that nugget of information I came close to having a man crush Robert Harris and I have a long relationship going back to his first novel Fatherland, where he explored the idea of what the world would have been like if Hitler had won WW2 Picking up a Harris book for me has always been a sure thing In this book he puts us in the mind of Picquart we see his fallacies, his doubts, his courage, his outrage, and ultimately his determination to find justice His expectations for France are idealistic No one would have faulted him for losing faith in the country and the army he loves He never falters in his desire to remind them of how a man of honor and valor is expected to conduct himself If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at
4.5 starsThere are occasions when losing is a victory, so long as there is a fight This is an excellent work of historical fiction based on a real life man of honor and duty, French Army officer Georges Picquart, and his determination to uncover the truth surrounding the arrest and conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in what is considered to be one of the greatest judicial debacles in history While France was still stunned by the victory of the Germans in the Franco Prussian war in 1870, hostilities, distrust and anti Semitism were all heightened within the military and the people of the republic at the time this novel takes place, the 1890s As a Jew, an officer within the army, and a man to be secretly envied due to his independent wealth, Captain Dreyfus was an easy target to accuse of treason when French secret intelligence discovered a traitor in their midst Major Georges Picquart was not immune to the feelings of bitterness and prejudices at the time of Dreyfus s conviction Having personally witnessed Dreyfus s military degradation which was attended by citizens and servicemen alike, Picquart was only too glad to put his former student out of his mind once and for allI had no desire to see the condemned man again Only two years earlier he had been a student of mine in this very building Now I had nothing to say to him I felt nothing for him I wished he had never been born and I wanted him gone from Paris, from France, from EuropePicquart even gets a promotion to Colonel following the degradation and conviction and is assigned to the position of commander of the Statistical Section, the secret intelligence branch of the French Army Despite the fact that Picquart does not relish espionage, something he considers dirty work, he resigns himself to his new post and devotes himself to his new responsibilities When Picquart unearths a spy in their midst, he will begin to meticulously probe into the details of the Dreyfus case himself When a series of mistakes and subsequent cover ups are revealed, Picquart is forced to choose between his reputation and career or the pursuit of justice In this pursuit, Picquart learns that he will not have the support of the army and he too will fall under suspicion as his loyalties to the army are testedThe thing is, I have no wish to destroy my career Twenty four years it has taken me to get this far Yet my career will be pointless to me will lose the very elements of honour and pride that make it worth having An Officer and a Spy is an extremely riveting account of the Dreyfus affair, as it came to be known, the people involved including those that will cover their tracks at all costs and those that will seek justice no matter the price, and the eventual reveal of the entire truth as discovered by Picquart I was completely engaged in this book and couldn t read fast enough once I reached the halfway mark Not that it was dull in the first half, not by any means We are just provided with the background of the case and the details surrounding the trial before the action, so to speak, begins All of it was very interesting It is appalling to think of the punishment meted out to Dreyfus following his conviction that of solitary confinement at the penal colony on Devil s Island The lengths that even the highest ranking officers will follow to persecute a man and to protect their own reputations is shocking to say the least The anti Semitism depicted during this period seems a premonition of the evil times to come during the reign of Hitler, and it shows just how such a horrendous event as the Holocaust could eventually come to fruition However, you will find that there are those that will stand up and do the right thing For that we can be grateful as our faith in humanity can be restored thanks to individuals such as these I highly recommend this book to those that relish superb historical fiction as well as those that enjoy spy thrillers and mysteries. Who should read this book All who love spy novels All who love mysteries and thrillers All who are interested in the Dreyfus affair All who are interested in issues concerning anti Semitism All who enjoy GOOD historical fiction All who would enjoy a book set in Paris in the 1890s All interested in mile Zola or his essay J accuse All who want books that deliver historical facts in an engaging manner All who need a book that focuses on people that are willing to place themselves in danger for a cause they believe in Keep in mind that Georges Picquart was a real person and of course Dreyfus and Emile Zola and Picquart wanted justice to achieve justice he was willing to put himself in danger, sacrifice his own career and even life How many people do that This book is an anti depressant when you are you are feeling down and out.and for those of you who love audiobooks with excellent narration David Rintoul s reading is simply superb The icing on the cake You do not have to meet all the criteria above any one of the criteria above is sufficient reason to choose this book Do you hear my enthusiasm I absolutely loved this book I have a new hero Georges Picquart What an amazing man The topic of the book is interesting The author turns historical figures into people you feel empathy for The author presents historical facts, and never are they dry He starts the book with a brief explanation of what is fact and what fiction He draws the feel of Paris in the 1890s And of course there are love affairs, soir es, the gas lights and the ever present stench of the sewage, rats and filth It is all here To top it all off David Rintoul speaks French as the French do the names, the streets the buildings, the squares Men AND women his intonations are perfect for both You have never heard his narrations That is another reason to choose this audiobook simply to hear the marvelous narration I loved this book and it restored my faith in the genre historical fiction which had been going down the drain The ending is magnificent too sorry, I keep thinking of things I must mention.And Georges Picquart I ADORE him What happened to Dreyfus is a must know but it should have been called the Dreyfus Picquart affair.