Thursday, February 13, 2014

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris - 429 pages

An Officer and a Spy is an apt name for this novel.  The title phrase could belong to a number of characters/historical figures, though I think it is mainly intended to describe Colonel Georges Picquart.  Picquart is appointed head of the French Military's secret intelligence unit shortly after the Alfred Dreyfus' espionage trial.  After being in the position a few months, he discovers there is still a spy in the military reporting to the Germans and the spy may have never been Dreyfus all along. This begins an investigation into the new probably spy and a reopening  of the Dreyfus investigation.  Once this becomes widely known within the military's General Staff, Picquart finds himself in a tight spot.

If you are a history buff and know the final outcome of the decade-long Dreyfus Affair, you will know how part of this novel ends.  However, it is still a worthy read.  Not only does Harris provide accurate descriptions of events (intertwined with fictionalizing character's thoughts and conversations), but he also includes well chosen excerpts from case documents and letters of those involved.

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