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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 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 - 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By W. Brian Hall on 10-27-13
Gripping look at an important moment in history
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.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Richard on 04-10-16
Needs better narrator
I was unable to get past the second chapter--Mr. Pevsner is a very stilted reader of English, and he completely butchers the French language. The combination of these two issues led me to return the audio book and buy a print copy, because I really want to read this book!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mary Carnegie on 05-01-18
Had hoped to be able to hang on long enough to get an impression of the writer’s take on Dreyfus. Far too much explanation of why French Catholics might have been touchy, from the Revolution on; even though French Protestants had already been massacred or had fled abroad, with significant damage to the economy.
I can’t tolerate any longer the narrator’s bored, flat voice or his utter refusal to pronounce French names in any recognisable form.
By Mary on 11-09-15
Addresses us as though we were a public meeting
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Maybe, if you can stand being read to in the pompous, ponderous, portentous manner of this narrator.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Don't know. Couldn't get beyond Chapter 1.
How could the performance have been better?
Tone down the narrator or choose someone different.
Was The Dreyfus Affair worth the listening time?
Not for me. And it was expensive, too.
Any additional comments?
Piers Paul Read is a significant writer who deserves a better narrator