On October 13, 1894, 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 afterward 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.
This was a very interesting and in-depth look at the Dreyfus Affair. The author explains in detail the historical, social and political context in which the event took place. The roots of the affair trace back to the schism between the traditionalists and secularists in the French Revolution, and Dreyfus became a pawn between these competing forces. Very balanced in presenting the thoughts and motives of those on both sides of the issue, and very moving in describing Dreyfus's imprisonment. A fascinating look at how an injustice could both be perpetrated by those with noble motives and how decisions become self-perpetuating.
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In January 2005 Kirk Johnson, then twenty-four, arrived in Baghdad as USAID's only American employee who spoke Arabic. Despite his opposition to the war, Johnson felt called to civic duty and wanted to help rebuild Iraq. Appointed as USAID's first reconstruction coordinator in Fallujah, he traversed the city's IED-strewn streets, working alongside idealistic Iraqi translators - young men and women sick of Saddam, filled with Hollywood slang, and enchanted by the idea of a peaceful, democratic Iraq. It was not to be.
This is a heartbreakingly sad tale of bureaucratic negligence and political cowardice by both the Bush and Obama administrations. The US government abandoned the Iraqi citizens who tried to help the US in the aftermath of the war; those are left to fend for themselves against the insurgents who all too often kill and terrorize them. It is very simply and movingly told by Kirk Johnson, who worked with these Iraqis and then worked against the system to try to rescue them. Highly recommended.