Saturday 15 February 2014

An Officer and a Spy

Degradation of Dreyfus (Wikimedia commons image)
Robert Harris has taken the historical Dreyfus affair and written a page turning thriller. Even though one knows the end, his portrayal of the various characters involved in this infamous incident brings history to life the way textbook accounts can rarely match.

The story is told by Georges Picquart one of the officers initially involved in the delivery of information that led to the miscarriage of justice.

His efforts to clear Dreyfus of the spying allegations lay bare the inadequacies of high command of the time. Harris acknowledges that no diary has been found written by Picquart but in allocating the role of narrator to him, we find a conflicted character keen not to compromise his career but forced to choose between the easy path of denial and the path of righteousness.

This was a book I could not put down and I read it in a day, so compelling was the storytelling. I am a Robert Harris afficionado having read 6 of his 8 novels.

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