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4.6 out of 5 stars
1,623
4.6 out of 5 stars
An Officer and a Spy
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on 11 April 2017
An Officer and a Spy, was a slow burn for me. It took me quite a while to get into. But once I did, it was a gripping tale of the legendary Alfred Dreyfus affair. Harris will have you screaming with indignation at the injustices involved. Afterwards, you'll close the book and find yourself wondering whether such outrageous injustice could still persist today.
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on 20 May 2017
Set in the 1890's, the novel is about the Dreyfus scandal and an army officer who is against his will appointed to be head of a spying organisation and who finds out the truth behind the scandal. However, it puts him in direct conflict with his political and military superiors and things go downhill from there - but as always the ending is not what you would expect. Another excellent read.
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on 9 October 2015
The research, the industry, behind this undertaking has to be admired - yet again. The style of the writing is intriguing, suggesting, by the use of the first person and the present tense, that we are observing the creation of a diary, composed day by day as the plot unfurls. The initial impression is of economy of language and descriptive writing, but as we immerse ourselves in the book, the author leads us through the heat of Tunis, past the sound of cavalry horses' hooves on cobbles, into stifling courtrooms, transporting the reader into a world of intrigue, dishonour and injustice in a narrative which appears dispassionate but is ultimately both exciting and emotive. Magnificent.
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on 17 September 2017
There is little I can add to the plaudits already heaped upon Robert Harris. It is simply a compulsive read. The story of the Dreyfus affair and its effect upon not only French public opinion but also that of Europe and beyond. Also its ramifications on the First World War - and possibly World War 2 should not be underestimated. It is a very complex story and it is a tribute to Robert Harris that he has retained the historical accuracy of the affair and present it as a novel. His research is painstaking and I am personally amazed that he has managed to retain the tension throughout what is a lengthy book. 'An Officer and A Spy' grips the reader from the first to the last page - and it has encouraged me to delve deeper into this dreadful chapter of French history. Alfred Dreyfus - a dedicated artillery Captain and victim of militant anti-Semitism that followed the Franco-Prussian war who was wrongly convicted of spying for the German military and incarcerated on Devil's Island - only to be eventually pardoned and re-instated as an Army officer and who saw service in World War 1. A truly magnificent book - don't miss it!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 November 2013
How do you write a thriller when the outcome is already well known? That's the challenge the most recent televised adaptation of Sherlock Holmes managed brilliantly in its last series with the episode reimagining Sherlock Holmes's plunge at the Reichenbach Falls. It's a challenge that Robert Harris also rises to in his fictional adaptation of the Alfred Dreyfus scandal.

Harris is helped a little by the fact that someone knowing the overall outlines of the case is still likely to be surprised by one or two of the genuine twists along the way. Even so, it is an impressive reflection of his ability to summon up such a convincing picture of life in late 19th and early 20th century France that the book is so gripping. It is a world in which great social and political pressures were played out in a high profile and controversial case of alleged espionage as the Jewish French army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of spying for Germany. (This case also saw the word 'intellectuals' coined as a noun, to describe the literary and other highly educated figures who publicly backed Dreyfus.)

Many other reviews have commented that it is hard to see where the join between fiction and reality is in the book, for it sticks closely to what is known and weaves in very tightly the extra fictional parts which let Harris, in his words "dramatise [and] invent many personal details".

The book sticks closely to perspective of George Picquart, a major player in the scandal and so a good vantage point from which to view it. This gives the reader a compelling account of some of the conspiracy's participants, along with the how and the why of the way they get sucked into a bigger and bigger conspiracy in an effort to win the day.

It also means that Alfred Dreyfus himself is a somewhat remote figure during the book and - perhaps the book's one real flaw - that the reader also does not get much to explain why so many outside the conspiracy believed in its truthfulness so strongly for so long despite the contrary evidence.

Even so, it is a great read about a still fascinating major scandal.
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on 30 August 2017
Brilliant fictional account of the Dreyfus case, seen from the point of view of a colleague who played a part in his conviction and then found good reasons for doubting the conviction. It is extremely well written, life-like and compelling and I recommend it to everyone.
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on 13 May 2017
An excellent book, true to history. As a novel it has suspense until the very end, with a touch of mild romance "a la francaise", The Dreyfus affaire had a whole generation in true suspense for many years. And it is in my opinion very well written
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on 25 May 2017
Excellent read. By the end you are filled with anger at the injustice of what the Army Establishment had done
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on 5 August 2017
A gripping novel about a terrible anti-semitic event in French history. I am not Jewish but I knew about the Dreyfus case. Robert Harris brought the full horror of it to life, not just the (ignorant) hatred of people who are not members of the establishment and worse (!), Jewish, but the closing of ranks of the powerful to cover up a cover up. I could hardly put it down. As there is still corruption and hatred of the "other" by people it did leave me sad to think that little changes.
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on 11 July 2017
Never a dud book from this man. Harris has weaved his magic once again and provided yet another page turner. It is based on the Dreyfus affaire and converts well researched history into a superb novel.
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