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

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
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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 de
Paperback, 572 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Picador (first published 2010)
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Mar 26, 2014 BrokenTune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
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
Daniel Kukwa
Oct 27, 2012 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Michelle Huot
Read this a while back for research for a history essay. Not the best out of the many books on Dreyfus and French turn of the century culture/politics, but it was very well organized and concise.
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
Sep 10, 2010 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2012 Helen Stanton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.......
Sep 23, 2011 Rayrumtum rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.
Christopher Donaghue
The first and fourth sections of the book were quite enjoyable to read, but the middle was such a bore! Ruth Harris leaves many issues unexplored, most notably the "Panama Scandal" which is mentioned maybe a dozen times but never once explained, while exploring other matters with far, far too much depth that they often seem out of place, only slightly associated with the issue. Otherwise, it is a very important issue which resonates so very much in the 21st century and ought to be an Affair know ...more
Mar 04, 2017 Suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this - amazing that this case isn't known more widely or in more depth. Sometimes the sheer number of people involved in the case at any given time was difficult to follow; one to be studied rather than read on the train I think.
Jan 09, 2017 Wendell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a kid, I was gripped by Barbara Tuchman's account of the Dreyfus Affair in her The Proud Tower (a loose journalistic account of Europe and the US in the years before the First World War) and it always fascinated me, if from afar. Harris here takes a comprehensive look at the embattled French army captain and the convulsions that gripped both France and the world as a result of the trumped-up espionage case against him at the close of the nineteenth century. Dreyfus, a Jewish captain in the Fr ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Laurent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
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
Jul 27, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 06, 2014 Hilary Hicklin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.
Charles Kristofek
Fascinating insight into French society and politics in the late 19th century. The Affair launched the concept of "intellectuals" as the right defines it today with contempt. Lots of insights into antisemitism far before Hitler guided by the Church of Rome. Zola's defense of Dreyfus has lessons to understand today's fact free right wing. Zola exposed the almost sadomasochistic relationship that existed between insecure mobs and their adulation of "strong men" and the military.
Apr 28, 2011 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure
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
There are a million books on the Dreyfus affair, but this is the best one. It's a bit of a behemoth - it goes into a lot more detail than Burns' documentary history, but still worth it.
Jack Goodstein
Jun 17, 2011 Jack Goodstein rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Readable and scholarly. Full review on Blogcritics.
Robert Goss
Robert Goss rated it it was amazing
Oct 14, 2015
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Sep 23, 2012
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Mar 05, 2012
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Apr 17, 2011
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Dr. Ruth Harris is a Lecturer in History at Oxford University.

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