Officer and a Spy, An

Harris, Robert

  11 Reviews

In what came to be known as the Dreyfuss Affair, condemned spy Alfred Dreyfuss is exiled from France for handing over secrets to the Germans. Although instrumental in bringing about his conviction, Army Officer Georges Picquart comes to believe he is innocent and attempts to see him exonerated.

Impeccable research into this cause celebre of the 1890s combined with a riveting plot produces a spellbinding thriller that brings to life this famous miscarriage of justice.

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Comments from Groups

The style, the subject and the character of the narrator combined to hold the reader's interest throughout. We all enjoyed the masterly way in which the author handled his material. Whangarei 008

The group really enjoyed this book. Perhaps a little difficult to get into, but once the story was established it was difficult to put down. It was extremely well written, and the actual historical account was closely followed by the author. The discussion tended to be about the anti-Semitic feelings that were so evident in the 1890s in France - not really expected. Highly recommended. Christchurch 317

An excellent read and highly recommended. Full of suspense, prose clear, characters well drawn and good descriptions of Paris, and its society at the turn of the 20th century. Historical facts and the court cases all there. The lies and deceptions by the generals of the French army were a stark revelation. A riveting history lesson! Wellington 117

What a great read this book was. We all enjoyed it immensely. It was totally gripping and we all became quite amazed at the complexity and yet clarity of this absorbing piece of history. Using Georges Picquart as the narrator we thought was excellent. We were swept along. Most of us had not read a Robert Harris book before and now we are keen to read more. Excellent notes. Wellington 041

What a great book!! Beautifully crafted - from the use of Piquart as narrator, the use of the present tense drawing us in, the pace of writing controlled to create atmosphere and the use of descriptive allusions which quietly outlined the political, religious and social context of the day. On top of that the choice of subject presented moral dilemmas and bureaucratic drama which kept us all enthralled. The study notes, we thought, were also very good. Tauranga 049

Those who finished the book really enjoyed it, but most found it quite heavy going and drawn out and didn't finish it. Blenheim 016

We all enjoyed it. Impressive research and engaging style. Lots of historical interest and resonances for many of us. Wellington 178



AUCK 417
Having Colonel Picquart as the narrator of this story gave authenticity to the Dreyfuss case and to the state of Europe in the late 1800s. Having been involved in this case from the beginning, he was the perfect person to use as narrator. We found the list of characters at the beginning of the book very useful as a reference to the many army personnel involved. A very intense book, but we found some comic relief in the duel scene. Thoroughly enjoyed the book.
WELL 020
We ALL loved this book. We consider that Harris wrote an excellent book with great descriptions. Though a serious and lengthy read everyone was pleased to have read it.
ROTO 003
Interesting historic view into French politics and attitude to Jews.
CAMB 007
A lot of us didn't think this was going to be our kind of book, but we ended up really enjoying it. We learnt lots.
We have enjoyed this book universally, giving the highest score ever. The group now wants to read more of Harris's work. Excellent history, excellent prose, excellent characterisation.
TAUR 005
Outstanding read. Well researched and excellent writing style. We learnt a lot and had a stimulating discussion from the questions.
We couldn't put it down. Wouldn't usually pick this genre, but it was excellent.
There were mixed reactions, the majority finding the fictionalised, historical account a stimulating and revealing read. The powerful in French society in the late 19th century were exposed as brutal and self-serving.
Most members found the book very interesting and a page turner. They also thought the message still applies today. A few found it a little difficult to get into.
Everyone was very enthusiastic about this book - well constructed and very readable in spite of the harrowing treatment that Dreyfuss suffered at the hands of the army and the lengths to which the commanders went to, in trying to stop Picquart from further investigations. A great fictional story of an actual historic event that took place within the French military in the 1890s.
CHCH 422
A couple of our group commented that it was difficult to read with the large cast. However one member said once she got into the story she wasn't able to put it down. Even though it is set in the 1800s it seemed to have a timeless quality. A good read. One of the group commented on how she was intrigued by how journalism can work for or against a cause and how some secrets should be kept and some not. Well structured and researched.