An Officer and A Spy

An Officer and A Spy

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
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National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year 2013

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 âe~Death to the Jew!âe(tm)

The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French armyâe(tm)s youngest colonel and put in command of âe~the Statistical Sectionâe(tm) âe" 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 Devilâe(tm)s Island âe" 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 predicamentâe¦

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.

Publisher: London : Hutchinson, c2013
ISBN: 9780091944551
Branch Call Number: HAR
Characteristics: 483 p. ;,24 cm

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e
edlyn700
Jul 25, 2017

I was expecting this to be rather dry but Robert Harris managed to make it very interesting. I highly recommend this.

w
whitcombs2do
Jun 05, 2017

I won't elaborate the plot - just want to confirm that Harris really is a good writer!
I first got hooked on his Cicero trilogy, which was a fine addition to my library of long-time Roman history favorites "I, Claudius" and McCullough's Masters of Rome series. I've also read "Pompeii," and it looks now as if I'll be reading everything Harris has written!

t
tjdickey
Feb 16, 2017

Good and classy historical fiction, with strong elements of espionage and courtroom drama. Harris has a knack for getting inside the heart of human emotions - and all-too-human prejudices.

b
becker
Aug 09, 2016

Spies, treason, political corruption, conspiracy and 19th century courtroom drama all based around the infamous true life Dreyfus Affair in France in 1895. This is an interesting piece of history transformed into a very well told work of fiction.

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eappelbaum
Jul 25, 2016

A touching an exciting book. The most important thing I realized is that to the bigots, truth means nothing.

z
zipread
Jun 15, 2016

An Officer and a Spy --- by --- Robert Harris.
Slow to start but becoming more and more involving until it finally gets you to indignation and red anger, this historical novel is about the Dreyfus case, a story and a scandal that shook and tore France at the end of the nineteenth century. This is a tale of anti-Semitism, deceit, cover-up and incompetence on a massive scale that almost anticipates what would be raised to a high art form in the Soviet Union, communist China, and the Third Reich. It is the story of one man who attempts to set all this malfeasance to right but who is outfoxed and out schemed at every turn. “Officer” fleshes out what, to me at least, has simply been a dry footnote to French history.

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hrhhall
May 22, 2016

It starts slow, almost chucked it during the first disk as a fin de ciecle fluff piece, but unfolds like a John Le Carre novel, only it is true. An amazing piece of history well told. God forbid the establishment ever have to admit it's follies.

h
htliang
Jun 15, 2015

I don't usually read spy novels but my husband recommended this, so I thought I'd give it a try. I enjoyed Robert Harris's Fatherland, Pompeii, Enigma, The Fear Index, and Archangel. Robert Harris did another great job in bringing this story to life; it helped that it was based on facts because it made me feel for the characters more than if they were fictional. Fortunately, I didn't know the ending so I was reading late into the night to find out what happened. One downside was that I got a bit tired of hearing the same facts reiterated over and over. This caused me to do a bit of skimming near the end. But overall, I highly recommend this novel

r
redworc
Mar 17, 2015

An interesting piece of history in France. Dragged a bit in places and I skipped some pages but I held on to the end.

b
brooksvan
Feb 25, 2015

This is an impressive book, in fact something of a minor epic in the way it encompasses the universal themes of monstrous injustice and redemption. The Alfred Dreyus story is familiar: how the French officer was in the late 1800s falsely accused of being a German spy (hence the title), stripped of his rank and exiled to the ghastly penal colony of Devil's Island. Throughout his incredible ordeal and suffering, Dreyfus never ceased being a loyal member of the officer core. Indeed, the Dreyfus of Robert Harris is not a particularly likeable person (except the sympathy you feel for his tribulation). The real hero is George Picquart, initially a contented colonel who finds it difficult to move against his superiors even when he finally uncovers the immense scope and inhuman, cynical nature of the conspiracy. He himself is persecuted for his persistent efforts to right the wrongs perpetuated against Dreyfus and indeed suffers almost to the extent Dreyfus does in exile. (The French Army, press and legal system do not come out well in this tale.) "An Officer and a Spy" is exceedingly well writen: long, yet suspenful, even riveting, and packed with enthralling period detail. Harris, while a best-seller, may be a bit underrated -- this work (as well as the earlier "Ghost') surely moves him into the front ranks of contemporary writers.

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