They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the best-selling author of Fatherland.
January 1895: On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of 20,000 spectators baying 'Death to the Jew!' The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army's youngest colonel and put in command of 'the Statistical Section' - the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.
The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil's Island - unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever. But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament....
Narrated by Picquart, An Officer and a Spy is a compelling recreation of a scandal that became the most famous miscarriage of justice in history. Compelling, too, are the echoes for our modern world: an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, a newspaper witch hunt of a persecuted minority, and the age-old instinct of those in power to cover-up their crimes.
©2013 Robert Harris (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks
This was a really fantastic listen. It is a novel woven around the actual events of the Dreyfuss affair and combines historical accuracy with vividly imagined emotions and behaviour of the key characters involved. The construction and then unravelling of the military intrigue is gripping as is the personal story of Picard and the consequences of his actions on those around him.
David Rintoul's narration was perfect for the novel and I will certainly choose further audiobooks on the basis of his narration.
This book is great for those who like political thrillers or historical novels with a strong basis in painstaking factual research.
I listened to this while carrying out a particularly dull administrative task and it kept me at my desk far beyond midnight and consequently completed project ahead of target.
Robert Harris really knows how to create tension in a historical novel, where at least in general, we must know what the ending is. This is a beautifully crafted and fast-paced novel, which brings to light one of the great scandals of the19th century and exposes the French officer class as corrupt, paranoid and deeply anti-Semitic. If I could criticise at all, the courtroom scenes do drag on a bit, but for those familiar with Imperium and Lustrum, the wealth of detail revealed will compensate. Also the reader is excellent, perfect pace and very believable accents, including the very difficult (for a man) women's voices.
This book takes you immediately into scenes from history text books but in such a way that it becomes immediately engrossing and relevant for today. The subtle details which pave the way for the central character's change of heart are fascinatingly drawn for us. I also very much enjoyed the insight into the life of an early spy.
Although, I remembered vaguely what the Dreyfus Affair was about, I had to restrain myself from looking up the details to find out what became of them all! This ought to be compulsory listening for anyone studying the literature or history of that period as it brings it all to life in such a meaningful way.
The narration of this compelling story was excellent, with superb vocal characterisation.
Unbelievable but true
If I had the time, yes
I'm sure the bare facts of the true story could be quite hard reading, but Harris has really brought the fascinating story of Dreyfuss and Picquart to life in this intriguing novel. The most unbelievable elements are ctually the facts about how the most senior officers in the French Army along with senior members of the government conspired to hide the truth - as unearthed by Picquart. Thoroughly recommended.
Excellent re-telling of the Dreyfus affaire, comparable to Robert Harris's excellent "Lustrum" and "Imperium" books.
David Rintouls narration is eloquent and easy to believe you are listening to the real Picquart, albeit without a french accent.
I quickly realised this was a book to savour so rationed myself to a chapter a day to make it last.
For any Francophones Eric Cahms book "L'Affaire Dreyfus" gives more detail of this historical episode.
Many of the names of people and places are of course French. The David Rintoul's pronunciation made it all the more real.
There are many memorable moments, but the way in which the duel was read was excellent.
I really felt for Georges Piquant throughout as I found I knew him so well.
An excellently crafted narrative of a shocking historical conspiracy, superbly brought to life by David Rintoul. I was gripped from start to finish.
The book has the advantage of taking a part of history that I knew a little about and making it completely accessible. And of course Richard Harris' prose is beautifully written.
I knew something of the Dreyfus affair but I didnt know about Picquart. His journey from being convinced of Dreyfus' guilt to being the leader in bring down the case against him is clearly and belivably made. All in all an impressive man.
David Rintoul's voice is easy on the ear. He is good at differetiating characters without decending into steriotype accents. And he had me gripped.
There were a number of points where I finished reading and coukldnt wait to start again just ot find out what happened.
I listen to this for my bookclub which meant I had to get to the end. I confess I would otherwise have given up. I found the story complicated to understand and not very interesting. I am certainly better informed about French history, but I could've read about it on Wikipedia. I didn't feel that the literary treatment of the story added much.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It appeared to be well researched and meticulously written. It was very credible and placed me in the period well. The theme of whistle blowing and the trauma that ensues for the whistleblower was consistent with my understanding of what happens.
The storyline is excellent and at times, I could not stop listening.
All in all, I highly recommend this audiobook.
"The Best Book I have ever Listen too"
Robert Harris is a fantastic writer and I can't wait to listen to 'The Ghost'. I read his 'Fatherland' years ago but wasn't too impressed, however this book is a must. Spies, military, government, 1895, France, Germany, intrigue it has the lot. This story would be unbelievable if it wasn't based on a true story.
David Rintoul is fantastic narrating this noveltised version of events from the intelligence officer who discovers the truth and then falls foul of the hierarchy cover up.
Damn good story this. Bought the printed copy for my mother to read.
"Exciting Historical Fiction"
This is an excellent book, providing a strong insight into the politics of this time. It would be interesting enough if it were a work of pure fiction, but the historical base and accuracy make this both a thoroughly interesting listen and a story with an important lesson to learn. Highly likely that you'll go and research the facts of this case, if you haven't done so already. The performance is excellent as the narrator has an attractive reading voice and a real knack for accents. Very highly recommended!
"History in colourful"
Possibly, in many years time. Knowing the story would lessen the experience. .
A larger part of this book’s quality is the story line rather than the characters. I’m not suggesting the characters do not have “character”, they do. But the actual story and relevance in a tense pre-war Europe is remarkable.
This is a dramatization of history “The dreyfus affair”. It’s a spy thriller and a courtroom thriller. The key points of the book are true. In between the author has made a gripping story with the main character having an admirable personality. If not a bit overdone towards the end
I have not heard a better narrator than David Rintoul. .
I often wonder if he has to rehearse or if he can do this off the bat.In my opinion this is one of his best performances. Also because there are few female characters and no love scenes. They always sound sickly from any male narrator
Don’t research the history of the The dreyfus affair before listening. .
Surprised the author didn’t lean more on what a flash point Alsace Lorraine was and the paranoia between France and Germany before WW1
"Light reading material with historical facts"
The story is well described and one can imagine how it was. Having no military knowledge or much of an interest it managed to keep me interested for 2/3 of the part. I believe I'm not the main target audience for the book as I would prefer a little more romance. However I think it's a great book for people with an interest in history and how France's military/ court work in the late 1800 onwards.
"Great piece of French history"
A story you have heard about but never in depth. This case explains so much which happened afterwards. Great fascinating book.
"great story - great reader!"
I always wanted to know the détails about the Dreyfus affair - this is an entertaining book that provides a good explanation
"I couldn't listen to it"
I can't explain it and don't remember all of why I stopped early on. I couldn't get into the style, with so many minute details and moment by moment description, some of it creepy. I suppose there could have been a good book waiting later, but I couldn't stomach it to find out.
"Excellent Read / Listen"
I wish I had this this all those years ago in O level history. At times I felt I was trapped in Kafka's "The Trial" such was the claustrophobic feel of the book.
The narration was like fabulous acting, excellent.
J' accuse !
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