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Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  14 reviews
NationalJewish Book Awards Winner

In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was wrongfully convicted of being a spy for Germany and was imprisoned on Devil’s Island. Oxford historian Ruth Harris presents the scandal of the century in all its human complexity. Drawing on private letters and thousands of previously unconsidered sources, Harris offers a def
Paperback, 572 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Picador (first published 2010)
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Review first posted on BookLikes:

"The campaign for Dreyfus's final exoneration gathered pace in 1903 because it became linked to a partisan and bitter crusade against religious congregations, and not because there was a groundswell of support for his case. And even this campaign succeeded only because the Cour de cassation, the high court, used an obscure prerogative to take the case away from the system of military justice, which did not admit its error.
Emmanuel Gustin
There are two stories of Alfred Dreyfus. One is the legal story of a young officer who, after a botched and corrupt investigation, was wrongly convicted of treason and imprisoned on Devil's Island, and of the attempts to correct a judicial error. The other is the story of a political and cultural conflict that divided France in the two implacably opposed camps of Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards, often breaking earlier friendships and family ties. The two stories were necessarily connected, but ...more
Daniel Kukwa
It's heavy-going at times, but the sheer genius of this book lies in how well it captures the epic swath that was cut through French society by the Dreyfus Affair. So much so that it still resonates to this day. If you can make it through some of the middle sections (where a bit too much minor information to the Nth degree rules), this work will reward you with a solid understanding of an almost mystical time.
It is hard to identify a modern event which has had as much impact on society as the trials and imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus on what we now believe to be a trumped up espionage charge of relative insignificance. Having read recently Piers Paul Read's very detailed yet clear and moving account of this, from the arrest of Dreyfus in 1894 to his pardon and reinstatement in the army in 1906, I turned to Ruth Harris for a wider analysis of Dreyfusards versus anti-Dreyfusards.

In the promising introd
Used by Robert Harris as a source for his recent novel 'An Officer and a Spy.' Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French army who in 1894 was wrongly accused by the Army of spying for the Germans. The extraordinary efforts by the Army to frame Dreyfus followed by his imprisonment on Devil's Island is stunning. As the years went by another Army officer discovered that Dreyfus had been framed (the officer Picquart in the Robert Harris novelization of the Affair) and the Army turned on him as well ...more
Harris examines the Dreyfus Affair in the context of the political and social upheaval of the fin de siecle. Contesting a traditional reading of right-wing anti-Semitism joining with ultra-nationalism to create a monolithic anti-Dreyfusard movement, Harris explores a variety of differing philosophies held by the major players involved. The Dreyfusards as well featured an array of personalities that put aside historical differences to join the battle to overturn the Dreyfus conviction. Enemies be ...more
Helen Stanton
This is not a book for the faint-hearted.A very scholarly work and not an easy read. It is a fascinating dissection of a political scandal which still resonates in French life. Emile Zola emerged not just as a literary giant but also a man of principle.Alfred Dreyfus stood vigil over his coffin.......
I was a little disappointed by this book. I read it because I wanted to know more about the case. There was that, but there was a whole lot of French intellectual history that was not my cup of tea. Scholars of French literature probably would appreciate it more than did I.
Very well researched but perhaps too acedemic for the average reader (?)

I have always been interested in the Dreyfus Affair given my partial French background and was interested to have a go at this book which would give a thorough context to the drama that unfolded in France and more particularly its causes and effect on French society.

In that, there's no doubt that Ruth Harris' book give a thorough (and accurate?) account of this and will be of interest to people who want to understand the his
Czarny Pies
Sep 01, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: French lit graduates and former history students with a concentration in French history.
Recommended to Czarny by: Ms. Harris teaches at Oxford which is still a very high recommendation
Shelves: european-history
This book is an absolute joy for anyone who has studied French literature or history as an undergraduate. Ms. Harris helps you pull together all the novels you have read by Proust, France, Daudet, Zola, Veuillot, etc. into a coherent, integrated view of French intellectual and cultural life in the first two decades of this century.

I gather from some of the other Good Reads reviews that the extraordinary erudition of Ms. Harris makes this book a struggle at times for someone who is not fully acqu
Hilary Hicklin
Brilliant. Perhaps the definitive study of the Dreyfus Affair. Investigates every aspect of the episode, the various factions, their composition, their motives, the struggle for justice, the divisions and fall-out, the setbacks amd disappointments, and the after-effects, felt long into the 20th century. Hard to see how this can be bettered.

It however a scholarly approach that assumes some prior knowledge on the part of its readers so perhaps not for anyone new to this period of French history.
I should have read something about the case itself before, it was hard to keep many of the names straight without knowing much about the case previously
Jack Goodstein
Readable and scholarly. Full review on Blogcritics.
Jan Rice
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Dr. Ruth Harris is a Lecturer in History at Oxford University.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
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