alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 
 V.23 No.22 | May 29 - June 4, 2014 

Book Review

Men of Dishonor

An Officer and a Spy

Robert Harris
Alfred A. Knopf
hardcover
historical fiction
$27.95

An Officer and a Spy, a dark, detailed, and devastatingly moving historical novel by Robert Harris, is an absolute success. I know because I stayed up reading it until ungodly hours of the morning on two successive nightswhen I legitimately could not afford the lack of sleep. I didn’t care. This novel had me in its thrall from the first page to the last.

Harris tells the story of the Dreyfus Affair, one of the most polarizing and shameful episodes in French history. (Don’t have the particulars of turn-of-20th-century France at your mental fingertips? I recommend a quick internet search to refresh your memory before beginning, as Harris populates his novel entirely with real-life figures of the time.) The plot follows Georges Picquard, the youngest colonel in the French military and head of French intelligence, as he acts as witness to and unwitting accomplice in the railroading of Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer accused and convicted, repeatedly, of spying for Germany. Dreyfus’ downfall and disgrace, based on glaringly trumped-up charges, were matters of carefully manipulated public spectacle. He was convicted in a secret trial with manufactured evidence and eventually sentenced to solitary confinement on Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana.

Play Youtube Video
Robert Harris discusses An Officer and a Spy

Behind it all, of course, is the oppressive yet casual anti-Semitism that pervades French society at the end of the 19th century, informing all social interactions, perverting the military’s code of ethics and honor, and acting as impetus and backdrop to Dreyfus’ fall. In Picquard’s gradual awakening to his beloved military’s dirty dealing in l’affaire Dreyfus, he must question his own prejudices, loyalties and betrayals, and eventually he must face the loss of cherished beliefs in his search for the truth.

Harris tells Dreyfus and Picquard’s story with insight, extreme attention to detail and a profound understanding of the ethical issues that obsessed France in the wake of the Dreyfus scandalissues that, with minor tweaks, we grapple with today. It’s a novel well worth several sleepless nights.

 

Today's Events

IMPACTS! at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Featuring Japanese contemporary art.

Heartbreak Ridge at Bookworks

Allan Houser Centennial Tribute at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

More Recommented Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    BeerBeatsBellydance&More
    BeerBeatsBellydance&More9.20.2014