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Publisher's 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 20,000. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus' 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 20th 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.

©2014 Robert Harris (P)2014 Random Hosue Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryan
  • Logan, Utah
  • 03-18-14

Top Notch Historical Fiction

Any additional comments?

For me, the best authors of historical fiction teach history without their readers knowing it. How? By making the facts come alive - by humanizing history. An engrossed reader comes away with a broader perspective of the world's events AND a good story.

An Officer and a Spy delivers on all accounts. And I must say I'm somewhat perplexed by a few of the negative reviews - I thought the book was excellent. It is the true story of Alfred Dreyfus, a French artillery man of German and Jewish descent, who is falsely accused and found guilty of treason - all of which remains today an unfortunate example of political injustice, aided largely by the court of public opinion. The story is suspenseful, engaging, emotional, and ultimately redemptive. A great listen for any audience - highly recommended.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua
  • Spring Mills, PA, United States
  • 03-05-14

One terrific spy story!

I really like spy novels which take place in well researched historical settings. (I'm a little lazy about reading straight history). Authors like Alan Furst, David Downing, Bernard Cornwell, or Phillip Kerr. If you like any of these authors, I believe you'll be very satisfied with this book.

This novel is one of the best I've ever read, and it's true! Before I was a quarter of the way through I was looking up the Dreyfus Affair, putting faces to the names in the book. Harris's research appears to be in depth and accurate. He freely admits to using the tools of the novelist to flesh out the characters, but he doesn't play around with facts. Very Cool! His characters are alive and engrossing and he makes a confusing, complicated plot lucid. A story about a hero. A true hero. Well worth reading.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • IRP
  • Bedminster New Jersey
  • 02-23-14

Excellent Historical Novel- A Few Inaccuracies

I thought that this was a very well written and narrated book about an historical subject and era that does not receive enough attention. The conviction and exoneration of Alfred Dreyfus by the French Army and Government marked a watershed event in the history of that country. The French had been defeated by the Prussians in 1870-71 and the army had performed poorly. When secrets had been leaked to the German government, the army turned on Dreyfus as a scape goat- and the fact that he was a Jew from Alsace/Lorraine whose relatives remained behind in the German occupied provinces was a perfect excuse for the withhunt. Harris does a great jog in telling the story through the eyes and narration of George Piquart who almost lost his military career and life as a result of his standing up for the truth- namely that Dreyfus was framed and the military covered up the framing. The book introduces the listener to some of the key political actors who played a part in saving Dreyfus- namely Clemenceau, Zola and Jaures. It is an exciting and worthwhile listen. The only problem I had with the story is that Harris identifies Moscow and not St. Petersburg as city in Tsarist Russia that was the hub of Russian military intelligence. Not a big deal- but to a student of history like me, it bothered me. Otherwise I would recommend the book- and as a result of my listening to it, I now find my interest piqued in the Dreyfus affair

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Adrian
  • Homestead, FL, United States
  • 02-08-14

History Alive!

What did you love best about An Officer and a Spy?

The story was gripping. Even though I knew the outcome Harris did a great job of building and sustaining that tension throughout. During the courtroom scenes, I found myself getting upset at what was going on.

Rintoul's narration is top-notch. Next to Will Patton's narration of "Tree of Life," this is my favorite audiobook.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Suspenseful, Absorbing and Shocking

What made the experience of listening to An Officer and a Spy the most enjoyable?

Being of French heritage, I knew of the Dreyfus Affair. But the author brings alive many parts of the Affair that were new to me. "Alive" is a key feature of Robert Harris' compelling style as he creates dialogues between key characters in this messy affair. This tale of incredible judicial corruption and personal malevolence in the highest ranks of the French Military and the Government, and the grievous harm these officials brought upon innocent people, is a lesson to be aware of today when there is still much duplicity and incompetence in the application of "justice" to ordinary citizens. The book is an exciting dramatization of the years-long struggle between crime and honor in high places.

What other book might you compare An Officer and a Spy to and why?

I don't know offhand.

Have you listened to any of David Rintoul’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to Rintoul before. I thought he was an excellent narrator, creating individual personalities for the various characters involved in the Dreyfus plot.

Who was the most memorable character of An Officer and a Spy and why?

Certainly Lt. Colonel Piquart.

Any additional comments?

Though the Dreyfus Affair took place between 1896 and 1906, the lessons to be learned from it are entirely relevant to the relationship between governments and citizens in 2014. Read this book for the pleasure of a gripping tale of suspense but also to arm yourself with a healthy dose of skepticism as you listen to today's protestations from officials trying to extricate themselves from a web of lies.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
  • 03-25-14

Absolutely Excellent!

A well writen, and excellently narrated historical book! One of the best I have read and a good example of how we never learn from or change the patterns and powers of politicians or the press.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 07-18-18

Fascinating

I am a big fan of Robert Harris and this book did not let me down. Harris is a master of historical fiction.

This historical fiction tells the story of French officer Georges Picquart (1854-1914) from 1896 to 1906. Picquart became head of the French Army’s Intelligence section after the conviction of Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) and his confinement on Devil’s Island. Picquart uncovers a spy and proof of Dreyfus’s innocents. Picquart has to fight bureaucracy, societal opposition as well as anti-Semitism in his attempt to free Dreyfus. Harris brings this period of history to life. I could hardly stop reading the book. I have read many books about the Dreyfus Affair, but this helps to bring the period after conviction to life. I enjoyed the descriptions of the state of spy craft of the period. I enjoyed the dramatic court scene that took place near the end of the book.

The book is just over sixteen hours. David Pintour does a good job narrating the book. Pintour is a Scottish actor.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Fascinating Story Told by An Excellent Narrator

This was one of my most enjoyable audiobooks. The story was so interesting and almost completely based on fact. The narrator had a perfect French accent and a wonderful way of expressing the emotions of the story. What an actor! After I finished, I read up on the facts of the case on the internet. I highly recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Very Good for first 2/3. Ok for the last

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Generaly a good listen. Excellent performance.

What about David Rintoul’s performance did you like?

Excellent characters and just the right tone.

Any additional comments?

The first 2/3 were excellent. Great suspenceand well written. The last part felt like a rush through time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marianne
  • PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States
  • 03-09-14

Compeling

Would you listen to An Officer and a Spy again? Why?

yes, it is so good and brilliantly explains a very important episode in French history

Who was your favorite character and why?

Picard. He is a hero

Which scene was your favorite?

the courtroom scenes

If you could take any character from An Officer and a Spy out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Zola and Clemenceau

Any additional comments?

Marvelous

2 of 2 people found this review helpful