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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough read - shocking price for the Kindle edition
I got a copy of this book in an oxfam shop for a tenner and was surprised to see that it hasn't yet been officially released. There is nothing on it to suggest it is some sort of review copy so I don't know why it has turned up so early but lucky for me. Nevertheless I still wish to express my dismay at the advertised price of the kindle edition - hopefully this will be...
Published on 28 Jan. 2012 by Big Jim

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
I'm fascinated by French history but found this contained far too much repetitive historical content.
I'm afraid I gave up half way through.
Published 11 months ago by Baz


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent enough read - shocking price for the Kindle edition, 28 Jan. 2012
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History (Hardcover)
I got a copy of this book in an oxfam shop for a tenner and was surprised to see that it hasn't yet been officially released. There is nothing on it to suggest it is some sort of review copy so I don't know why it has turned up so early but lucky for me. Nevertheless I still wish to express my dismay at the advertised price of the kindle edition - hopefully this will be reduced to a more reasonable sub £10 price. I should also point out that the kindle price does not affect my review of the book.

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Man on Devil's Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France I was intrigued to see if this new book by a long-established author added anything to the mix and as he himself admits - it doesn't. So should you buy this book if you already have Ms Harris's one? I'd say yes. Although there is little new ground broken this is a very informative and more "breezy" read than "Devil's Island", perhaps because there is more concentration on Dreyfuss's eclectic collection of associates than the man himself. That's not to say that Mr Read doesn't cast a sharp eye on things, it's just that I feel he has taken a more "novelistic" approach to the subject than Ms Harris and that is no bad thing. Of the two I still prefer "Devil's Island", but maybe that is because I read it first. If you want to read only one book on the subject I would struggle to nominate one over the other but am happy to recommend both as complimentary to each other. They are both well written accounts of a fantastic story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "If Dreyfus is innocent, the generals are scoundrels", 1 Jan. 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History (Hardcover)
When the passage of time might be expected to have washed away memories, this is only one of several recent books keeping alive "The Dreyfus Affair" in which a Jewish captain was found guilty of espionage in 1894 at an inept and corrupt court martial. Not only is truth stranger than fiction here, but it exposes the deep rift between on one hand the Catholics, bitter over past persecution by the French revolutionaries, yet still considered too influential in education and the army, and on the other hand the secular republicans, often seen as in league with a "syndicate" of wealthy Jews following their "liberation" by the French National Assembly in 1791.

So keen is the author to set the scene that we do not hear much about Dreyfus until Chapter 5. Although leavened with many fascinating details, such as the twisted sense of honour of the military men who arrested Dreyfus, leaving a gun loaded with a single bullet in reach as a hint for him to "do the right thing", this deeply researched study makes exhausting reading at times. This is due partly to the large number of characters with long complicated names, often in inverse length to their importance, also to the author's inability to resist distracting us with facts about them, even if marginal to the main theme.

1890s Paris is presented as a kind of Ruritania with leading figures swapping mistresses, indulging in duels, and accepting bribes to conceal embarrassing facts like the bankruptcy of the Panama Canal Company. Just as expenses scandals at Westminster are made to seem small beer, the excesses of our media pale into significance compared to the bilious anti-semitic outpourings from the pens of "respected" Catholic journalists. There are fascinating parallels with today: Dreyfus was convicted at one stage by a "dodgy dossier"; the need to protect national security was made a reason for not producing vital evidence which was shown, if at all, to the prosecution but not the defence; those who knew or came to believe that Dreyfus was innocent felt that establishing this was less important than maintaining the reputation of the army, whose senior staff had mistreated him. The recent controversy over the French striker Anelka's use of the "quenelle" or reverse nazi salute favoured by his friend the comedian Dieudonné show that the issues surrounding Dreyfus retain their substance, in a different form.

The books succeeds on both a broad historical and personal level. For the sake of his health and his family, did Dreyfus have any option but to accept a pardon even if it implied admission of guilt? Sadly, this capitulation divided his supporters, some to the extent of becoming estranged from him and each other. The final sad irony is the fate that met his loyal wife after his death: to spend her final years hiding from the Nazis in, of all things, a convent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really great book, 29 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History (Hardcover)
I love Piers Paul Read's erudition. He began THE DREYFUS AFFAIR by going back to the French Revolution, as he went back to Mohammed and the founding of Islam in his THE TEMPLARS. We learn lots of historical tidbits. For example, he discusses duels, an immensely fascinating subject when done by Read, informing us, along the way, that de Lesseps, of Suez Canal fame, married a second time at age 64 and fathered 12 children on his young wife--of course, de Lesseps was French. We learn too that Dreyfus, a married man, had mistresses. The trial and the degradation make one literally sick to the stomach, and the conditions of imprisonment, remaining deplorable even to this day, is one of the shames that France is ever incapable of remediating. One has to force oneself to read through the suffering on Devil's Island, but through it all this incredible man, Dreyfus, never lost faith in his country's final judgment. He was blessed with a wife--qu'il avait pourtant trompé--and with a brother equal to van Gogh's. What is extremely upsetting when one reads of Dreyfus's fight for survival is the knowledge that most of his descendents--most Jews--would eventually be totally exterminated, a reason, among others, why Americans, in their vast majority, believe that present-day Jews must be protected at absolutely all costs. And what to say about Zola: a French god, today lying in the Panthéon, the greatest honor open to a Frenchman. Another hell of a good book on Dreyfus is Jean-Denis Bredin's THE AFFAIR, a book I've read 6 times because the story is so well told and so moving. In fact, I'm awarding it 5 stars to Bredin as well as to Read. (Read's book has more information, but Bredin tells a more fascinating story.) If you're looking for comic relief, after all the disgusting and dehumanizing attacks on Jews (especially well described in Read's book), then I recommend the absolutely wonder THE DREYFUS AFFAIR by Peter Lefcourt. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Covering your back, 19 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History (Hardcover)
Piers Paul Read gives a very clear picture of France, especially the army, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Very few people in this story come out as heroes. In fact, the victim, Alfred Dreyfus, is difficult to empathise with.
The martinettees in the French army are very well described and the reader gets a feeling of these strutting, smug officers, even when they realise that they are in the wrong, only worrying about their futures.
A complex subject is dealt with very clearly and the book is a very good history lesson as well as a cracking good read.
I thoroughly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Dreyfus Affair, 30 Jan. 2014
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A wonderful and sometimes heart breaking story. Ideal depth of info for History students. Excellent I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good history of the Dreyfus affair., 13 Jan. 2014
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I read this book to reacquaint myself with the facts of the Drefus Affair after reading "An Officer and a Spy" by Robert Harris. This is a good book, which thoroughly examines the context of the third republic, in particular the anti-clerical and catholic camps. Once onto the affair itself the book reads a bit like a thriller, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Intriguing to understand the politics of France ..., 18 Sept. 2014
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Excellent book. Intriguing to understand the politics of France leading up to the Affair and the aftermath backlash on the Catholic religion.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and comprehensive, 11 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History (Hardcover)
Apparently there are a very large number of books on the Dreyfus Affair. I assume this book was an attempt to provide a readable version of the history, but not to skimp on accuracy or detail. It has succeeded admirably: it is a good read while still presenting a comprehensive analysis of the story. However, I would have preferred a shorter book as this one tested my endurance somewhat. It is difficult to see what might have been left out but that after all is the author's job. I suspect this is probably the best book on the topic for non-specialists.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, a fascinating story, 23 Sept. 2013
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A superb summary of the original 'culture wars' -- and a story with many lessons, not all of them predictable. Read has no axes to grind and a natural empathy, which makes this the most accessible, and objective, account of the Dreyfus Affair -- and his storytelling abilities are second to none.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating History, 25 Aug. 2013
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Tobin H. G. Duke "Susan Duke" (Scotland UK) - See all my reviews
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We have all heard about the injustice meted out to Dreyfus, but this very readable book tells the story very well. It is a remarkable episode in history and one which should not be forgotten or even forgiven.
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