The Dreyfus Affair by Piers Read
The Scandal That Tore France in Two


6 Critic Reviews

...under closer scrutiny Read’s supposition appears unlikely.
-Financial Times


July 20, 1894. The German Military Attache in Paris. Colonel Maximillien von Schwarzkoppen received a visit from a seedy-looking middle-aged Frenchman who would not give his name. He told Schwarzkoppen that he was a French army officer serving on the General Staff; that he was in desperate need of money; and was therefore prepared to sell military secrets to the Germans.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus, then aged 35, was a high-flying career artillery officer. Shy, reserved, sometimes awkward, but intelligent and ambitious, Dreyfus had everything he might have hoped for: a wife, two enchanting children, plenty of money and a post on the General Staff. However, Dreyfus' rise in the army had not made him friends. Many of them came from the impoverished Catholic aristocracy and disliked Dreyfus because he was rich, bourgeois and, above all, a Jew.

On October 13, Captain Dreyfus was summoned by the General de Boisdeffre to the Ministry of War. Despite minimal evidence against him he was placed under arrest for the crime of high treason. Not long afterwards Dreyfus was incarcerated on Devil's Island.

But how did an innocent man come to be convicted? And why was he kept locked up for so long?

The Dreyfus Affair uniquely combines a fast-moving mystery story with a snapshot of France at a moment of great social flux and cultural richness - the Belle Epoque, the Impressionists, novelists such as Flaubert, Zola, the Goncourts, Proust. It is a key to an understanding of later history; the Holocaust and Zionism: the virulent anti-Semitism of the anti-Dreyfusards and the decision that the Jews must have a state of their own.


About Piers Read

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Piers Paul Read was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He received his B.A. in 1961 and M.A. in 1962 from Cambridge University. In the years 1963-64, he spent a year in on a Ford Foundation Fellowship. This inspired his second novel The Junkers (1968). In the years 1967-68, he spent a year in New York - an experience he used in The Professor’s Daughter (1971). Read 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’s first notable success was his book Monk Dawson (1969), which won him a Hawthornden Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award and 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. Piers Paul Read lives in London
Published March 20, 2012 by Bloomsbury Press. 417 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Dreyfus Affair
All: 6 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 6


Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Nov 21 2011

A brisk, readable retelling with a slightly odd emphasis.

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Below average
Reviewed by David Bell on Feb 16 2012

...poorly timed and redundant... based on a very thin job of research.

Read Full Review of The Dreyfus Affair : The Sca... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Jan 02 2012

Read adds little to our understanding of this critical event in French and Jewish history.

Read Full Review of The Dreyfus Affair : The Sca... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Tobias Grey on Jan 27 2012

...under closer scrutiny Read’s supposition appears unlikely.

Read Full Review of The Dreyfus Affair : The Sca... | See more reviews from Financial Times

The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Keith Lowe on Jan 27 2012

There are no startling revelations here... The story also takes a while to get going

Read Full Review of The Dreyfus Affair : The Sca...

Rob Hardy

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Hardy on Mar 19 2012

Read's balanced account hasn't uncovered any new slant on the case

Read Full Review of The Dreyfus Affair : The Sca...

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