An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris

I was interested in this because it was historical fiction.An Officer and a Spy

Stats: Audio – 16′, 13 discs. Narrator David Rintoul, print

Blurb: (Goodreads) Paris in 1895. 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.

What I liked: The end was interesting. I didn’t know anything about this bit of French history, so it was interesting to learn about it and I can see how it would have been very noteworthy at the time, especially considering how it ends, which I won’t giveaway here. Harris does a good job making you feel the amazement and frustration the young Picquart must have felt with the situation. The man had amazing patience, since this all happened over a 10+ year period in his life when he went from the head of the French counterespionage agency to being sent on a suicide mission to try and silence him to getting arrested and put in jail. Harris doesn’t paint Alfred Dreyfus as a very giving man, but maybe some of this was just the time in history.

What I didn’t like: It took a lot of the book to lead up to the big trial. I suppose it had to be this way to get all the history behind it all, but because of the material covered, it was kind of dry at times. I would probably have stopped if I wasn’t listening to it. David Rintoul does a good job with the narration but his British accent confused me about where this was all taking place (France not England), so he either should have tried a French accent or they should have picked a French speaking narrator.

Rating: 3.5/5

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I didn’t know much about Dreyfus until I edited a book written by Paulette Mahurin called To Live Out Loud. It was about Emile Zola who fought for justice for Dreyfus. French history is alive and well!

    • Kwinky dinky! 🙂
      Who was Emile Zola?

      • He was a journalist who got himself in a bit of trouble because he wrote about how Dreyfus was unfairly treated.

        • Thanks! I learned my one new thing today!

          • Great! You’re good to go take a nap!

  2. I love your humor, Lorna! 🙂


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