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An Officer and a Spy: Book summary and reviews of An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy

by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris X
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
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  • Published Jan 2014
    448 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Robert Harris returns to the thrilling historical fiction he has so brilliantly made his own. This is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as a chillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage.

Paris in 1895. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of twenty-thousand. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that "proved" Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus's guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military. As evidence of the most malignant deceit mounts and spirals inexorably toward the uppermost levels of government, Picquart is compelled to question not only the case against Dreyfus but also his most deeply held beliefs about his country, and about himself.

Bringing to life the scandal that mesmerized the world at the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Harris tells a tale of uncanny timeliness - a witch hunt, secret tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, the fate of a whistle-blower - richly dramatized with the singular storytelling mastery that has marked all of his internationally best-selling novels.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Harris perfectly captures the rampant anti-Semitism that led to Dreyfus's scapegoating, and effectively uses the present tense to lend intimacy to the narrative." - Publishers Weekly

"Espionage, counterespionage, a scandalous trial, a coverup and a man who tries to do right make this a complex and alluring thriller. " - Kirkus

"This is an atmospheric and tense historical thriller, with a flawed but honorable protagonist fighting against entrenched complacence and bigotry." - Library Journal

"Against the odds, the result is both gripping thriller and Buchan-esque adventure: its revelations impeccably paced and its original material used to poignant effect (in particular, Dreyfus's own writings, evoking the prisoner as the ineradicable ghostly conscience of a degraded civilisation)." - The Guardian (UK)

"For the most part it is a gripping read, except for the period where Picquart is exiled from Paris, which tends to sag." - The Independent (UK)

"For a long time now, Harris has looked like the heir to John Le Carre, the popular yarn spinner with claims to permanence. In An Officer and a Spy he excels himself. Has this hack of highbrow penny dreadfuls actually tiptoed into the temple of art?" - The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

This information about An Officer and a Spy was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Robert Harris Author Biography

Robert Harris is the author of fourteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave, Munich, The Second Sleep and V2. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby.

Other books by Robert Harris at BookBrowse
  • The Ghost jacket
  • Pompeii jacket
  • Imperium jacket

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