An Officer And A Spy by Robert HarrisAn Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer And A Spy

byRobert Harris

Mass Market Paperback | June 20, 2014

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They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the bestselling author of Fatherland.
   January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying 'Death to the Jew!'
   The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army's youngest colonel and put in command of 'the Statistical Section' -- the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.
   The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil's Island -- unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever.
But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament.
   Narrated by Picquart, An Officer and a Spy is a compelling recreation of a scandal that became the most famous miscarriage of justice in history. Compelling, too, are the echoes for our modern world: an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, a newspaper witch-hunt of a persecuted minority, and the age-old instinct of those in power to cover-up their crimes.

ROBERT HARRIS is the author of eight bestselling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost, Lustrum and The Fear Index. Several of his books have been filmed, most recently The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kint...
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Title:An Officer And A SpyFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:624 pages, 6.99 × 4.39 × 1.49 inPublished:June 20, 2014Publisher:Random House UKLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0099580896

ISBN - 13:9780099580898

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better Than Fiction Robert Harris has written an amazing novelization of the factual events from the 1895 trial of Alfred Dreyfus, accused spy in the French military, to his final vindication in 1906 when the decision of the Rennes verdict of the Supreme Court of Appeal was finally quashed.  It is told from the point of view of Colonel Georges Picquart and begins with his daily reports on the Dreyfus trial to Minister of War, General Auguste Mercier.  Then a major, a few months later, Picquart is promoted and made head of the Statistical Section of the Ministry — the spy catchers/handlers unit. Harris has total command of all the events and facts and patiently, even painstakingly, takes us through the tiny discoveries Picquart makes along the way which build to prove there is still a spy within the army and that the evidence against Dreyfus was both flimsy and fabricated to varying degrees.  He is able to discover the real spy through an operation he runs himself along with a member of the Sûreté (Detective force), Jean-Alfred Desvernine, and a friend, Germaine Ducasse who rents the listening/watching post across from the German Embassy.  Problem:  1) the real spy is from a family of wealth and influence, 2) the proof of the case against Dreyfus was part of a conspiracy at the highest level, and 3) there is a general feeling throughout France that a loss of confidence in the integrity of the army high command would be disastrous for France. So Alfred Dreyfus deteriorates in a 6x6 cell on tiny Devil's Island, deserted except for his dozen guards who are not allowed to speak to him and where he is eventually shackled to his bed at night — as if there was any way of escape.  People at home — his family, lawyers, and certain authors/publishers — are working towards a retrial and eventually, Picquart, banished to the desert of Tunisia, will be brought home to testify and will assist Dreyfus' friends in any way he can without breaking his sworn confidence to the army. Not only is this story flawlessly told, but it is beautifully told.  The writing is exquisite and the atmosphere and mood of France and the French envelopes the reader: "I reached the pont de l'Alma and saw the shadowy crowd pouring across the dark waters of the Seine, and that was when I realised what Mercier must have known all along: that the human impulse to watch another's humiliation will always prove sufficient insulation against even the bitterest cold." Whether you've read about Alfred Dreyfus before or have not even heard about him, to relive the anti-semitism of France at the turn of the century, the lengths the conspiracy went to in order to eliminate Picquart, or the long process it took to finally vindicate an innocent man is a revelation that is shocking yet worth savouring simply for the eloquence of the story teller.  You can read the introduction and another teaser here.  This is the first book I've read by Robert Harris but it will not be the last.
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Picked this up on a whim I picked this up while browsing the shelves of my local store and ended up loving it. It flows like a fictional mystery novel however, the author did a lot of research and obviously the storey is about the true events.
Date published: 2017-05-13

Editorial Reviews

"Many readers prize him as our supreme exponent of the “literary” thriller. His novels are not difficult -- they are whizzing page-turners… They also combine masterly suspense and mystery with historical insight and political shrewdness. His latest novel is no exception: it is a cracking read from start to finish… It offers a bravura display of Harris’s fictional skills. The first is sureness of historical touch. In both general and specific terms the period comes alive… There is no need to wait for the film: it can scarcely be more exciting than the book." --Sunday Times"Harris is committed to the belief that you can get at a truth as a novelist that you can’t as an historian… and he does give us the look, sensations, sounds and smells as no historian could… it is informative, accomplished and highly enjoyable." --Evening Standard"The Dreyfus Affair… has now been brilliantly retold by Robert Harris… This is a book about spies and their deceits and the unreasonable demands that are made of them by their hard-to-please political governors. It is 1895 with a strong undercurrent of 2003… The real subject then is espionage and the broader, mutually manipulative relationship between the intelligence “community” and the political class… Along the way, Harris gives us plenty of espionage tradecraft. The eavesdropping, the handwriting analysis, the forgery." --The Times