The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History

The Dreyfus Affair: The Story of the Most Infamous Miscarriage of Justice in French History

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By (author) Piers Paul Read

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 27mm | 320g
  • Publication date: 14 February 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408830574
  • ISBN 13: 9781408830574
  • Sales rank: 89,900

Product description

Intelligent, ambitious and a rising star in the French artillery, Captain Alfred Dreyfus appeared to have everything: family, money, and the prospect of a post on the General Staff. But his rapid rise had also made him enemies - many of them aristocratic officers in the army's High Command who resented him because he was middle-class, meritocratic and a Jew. In October 1894, the torn fragments of an unsigned memo containing military secrets were retrieved by a cleaning lady from the waste paper basket of Colonel Maximilien von Schwartzkoppen of the German embassy in Paris. When French intelligence discovered they harboured a spy in their midst, Captain Dreyfus, on slender evidence, was charged with selling military secrets to the Germans, found guilty of treason by unanimous verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment on the notorious Devil's Island. The fight to free the wrongfully convicted Dreyfus - over twelve long years, through many trials - is a story rife with heroes and villains, courage and cowardice, dissimulation and deceit. One of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in history, the Dreyfus affair divided France, stunned the world and unleashed violent hatreds and anti-Semitic passions which offered a foretaste of what was to play out in the long, bloody twentieth century to come. Today, amid charged debates over national and religious identity across the globe, its lessons throw into sharp relief the conflicts of the present. In the hands of historian, biographer and prize-winning novelist Piers Paul Read, this masterful epic of the struggle between a minority seeking justice and a military establishment determined to save face comes dramatically alive for a new generation.

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Author information

Piers Paul Read is the author of many novels, but is best known for his book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which documented the story of the 1972 crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. The book was adapted into the 1993 film Alive: The Miracle of the Andes. Read won the Hawthornden Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award for his book Monk Dawson, which was made into a film of the same name. In 1988 he was awarded a James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his book, A Season in the West and in 2003 his authorized biography of the actor Alec Guinness was published to great acclaim. He lives in west London.

Review quote

The author effectively deploys his considerable literary talents to master the contortions of the affair and humanise the large cast of villains and heroes. The result is compelling and tense Sunday Times Piers Paul Read admirably demonstrates why we still find the subject fascinating more than a century after it resolved Daily Telegraph Splendidly is conveys the drama of this episode. He brings to life the tension of trials and court martials Independent Masterly and eminently balanced ... Piers Paul Read's narrative is compelling. He disentangles the complicated web of the Affair and is just to both sides. I can't think the story could be better, or more fairly, told Spectator In bringing his novelist's eye to bear on events, Read ensures they unfold with a compelling sense of drama. And what an extraordinary story it is ... In admirably clearheaded fashion, he disentangles the facts from the myths and shows that this was far more morally ambiguous story than has often been presented Sunday Telegraph Brings an original perspective to The Dreyfus Affair Financial Times His intention is to tell the story as it stands and he does so vividly and intelligently New Statesman