Dear Great Book Guru, I was at a wonderful Family Reunion Party this past weekend and one of my cousins mentioned a book that she really enjoyed- she said she was finally able to understand the infamous Dreyfus Affair- so often the mentioned today although having taken place well over a hundred years ago. I think it was fictionalized but historically accurate. Interested in Divining the Dreyfus Affair
Dear Interested, The Dreyfus Affair has always been one of those events in history that was murky to me. I knew it was important, it took place in France, and it was a benchmark of European anti-Semitism, but that was about it- that is, until I read AN OFFICER AND A SPY by Robert Harris. Harris wrote a wonderful award-winning historical novel about Pompeii a few years ago, and he has another winner with this one. The book opens in Paris 1895 as a Jewish army officer Albert Dreyfus has just been found guilty of espionage and is about to be sent to solitary confinement on Devil’s Island. George Picquart, a highly ambitious military officer and attorney, believes him guilty as does all of France, but soon, as the newly appointed head of counter-espionage, he realizes Dreyfus is innocent and the spy is still at large. The emerging anti-Semitism of Belle Époque Paris is evident with its psychological and physical repercussions clearly delineated, and Harris uses the letters of both Picquart and Dreyfus to strengthen the book’s historical accuracy. Truly a great spy story, an elegant historical piece, and a chillingly prescient tale - highly recommended!