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An Officer and a Spy | [Robert Harris]

An Officer and a Spy

They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the bestselling 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 twenty thousand 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.
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Publisher's Summary

They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the bestselling 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 twenty thousand 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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (85 )
5 star
 (46)
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4.4 (80 )
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4.5 (79 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Cynthea Wellings 01-04-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
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    "Excellent Read"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 02-21-14
    Michael 02-21-14

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-10-14
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 08-10-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great story - great reader!"
    What did you love best about An Officer and a Spy?

    I always wanted to know the détails about the Dreyfus affair - this is an entertaining book that provides a good explanation


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 07-22-14
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 07-22-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    109
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    127
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Australia 06-19-14
    Andrew Australia 06-19-14 Member Since 2010

    I love listening in the car on the way to work. I like history and stuff.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Excellent Read / Listen"
    If you could sum up An Officer and a Spy in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The narration was like fabulous acting, excellent.


    If you could rename An Officer and a Spy, what would you call it?

    J' accuse !


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results
Sort by:
  • Anne
    Dunblane, United Kingdom
    10/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Absorbing, thrilling and authentic"

    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.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Julian
    swindon, United Kingdom
    10/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Fatmusketeer
    Warwick, UK
    11/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping book well read"
    Would you listen to An Officer and a Spy again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about David Rintoul’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were a number of points where I finished reading and coukldnt wait to start again just ot find out what happened.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    HEREFORD, United Kingdom
    11/19/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating and compelling - a great listen"
    If you could sum up An Officer and a Spy in three words, what would they be?

    Unbelievable but true


    Which character – as performed by David Rintoul – was your favourite?

    Picquart


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    If I had the time, yes


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • N
    Stockport, United Kingdom
    11/17/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A dark episode in history brough vividly to life"
    Where does An Officer and a Spy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Excellent re-telling of the Dreyfus affaire, comparable to Robert Harris's excellent "Lustrum" and "Imperium" books.


    What does David Rintoul bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    David Rintouls narration is eloquent and easy to believe you are listening to the real Picquart, albeit without a french accent.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I quickly realised this was a book to savour so rationed myself to a chapter a day to make it last.


    Any additional comments?

    For any Francophones Eric Cahms book "L'Affaire Dreyfus" gives more detail of this historical episode.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Valerie
    BRADFORD ON AVON, United Kingdom
    11/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enthralling story with superb narration"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stewart
    Gillingham, United Kingdom
    11/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Facinating story from a different perspective"
    Would you consider the audio edition of An Officer and a Spy to be better than the print version?

    Many of the names of people and places are of course French. The David Rintoul's pronunciation made it all the more real.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of An Officer and a Spy?

    There are many memorable moments, but the way in which the duel was read was excellent.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I really felt for Georges Piquant throughout as I found I knew him so well.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia White
    Kendal
    11/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Real Thriller"

    An excellently crafted narrative of a shocking historical conspiracy, superbly brought to life by David Rintoul. I was gripped from start to finish.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen W
    Hamburg
    11/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book, Where did the Title come from?"
    What did you like most about An Officer and a Spy?

    Although one knew the outcome from the beginning, the 'story' is told in an illuminating and fascinating way. It is also extremely well narrated with the reader adding to the story instead of being in the way as is often the case with Audiobooks.


    Any additional comments?

    The only thing that confused me at the beginning and still does after listening to the book, is the title. I presume it refers to the lead character Georges Picquart, however, I never saw his as a spy as such. Spymaster perhaps but not spy. Anyway, otherwise thoroughly enjoyed it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Antony
    NorwichUnited Kingdom
    10/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding"

    Truly outstanding. Encapsulates all that is best in historical fiction. Vies with 'This Boy' as my audiobook of 2013.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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