The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two

The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two

Piers Paul Read / Nov 29, 2020

The Dreyfus Affair The Scandal That Tore France in Two July The German military attach in Paris receives a visit from a seedy looking man who claims to be a French army officer in desperate need of money offering to sell them military secrets Ca

  • Title: The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two
  • Author: Piers Paul Read
  • ISBN: 9781608194322
  • Page: 269
  • Format: Hardcover
  • July 20, 1894 The German military attach in Paris receives a visit from a seedy looking man who claims to be a French army officer in desperate need of money, offering to sell them military secrets.Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a rising star in the French artillery command Reserved yet intelligent and ambitious, Dreyfus had everything a family, money, and a clear path toJuly 20, 1894 The German military attach in Paris receives a visit from a seedy looking man who claims to be a French army officer in desperate need of money, offering to sell them military secrets.Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a rising star in the French artillery command Reserved yet intelligent and ambitious, Dreyfus had everything a family, money, and a clear path to a prestigious post on the General Staff However, Dreyfus had enemies as a result of his ambition Many of them came from the impoverished Catholic aristocracy and disliked Dreyfus because he was rich, bourgeois, and, above all, a Jew.On the basis of flimsy evidence, Dreyfus was placed under arrest for the crime of high treason Not long afterward, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life on the legendary, lethal Devil s Island The saga of Dreyfus s many trials he was not exonerated until 1906, twelve years after first being arrested the fight to free him, and the intrigues on both sides, is a fast moving mystery story rife with heroes and villains, loose women, loyal wives, bisexual men, tricksters, and charlatans But this was no mere sideshow The anti Semitism and deceit on display in the Dreyfus case was an ominous prelude to the Holocaust and the long, bloody twentieth century to come.In an era when religious conflict, fierce patriotism, and charged debates over national identity pervade the public sphere, the scandal of Captain Dreyfus still has much to teach us In the hands of prizewinning novelist, biographer, and narrative historian Piers Paul Read, this real life morality tale comes alive for a new generation Using his storytelling skills and a nuanced, deep knowledge of French history, Read rediscovers l affaire Dreyfus as a rich, riveting tale.

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    About "Piers Paul Read"

      • Piers Paul Read

        British novelist and non fiction writer Educated at the Benedictines Ampleforth College, and subsequently entered St John s College, University of Cambridge where he received his BA and MA history Artist in Residence at the Ford Foundation in Berlin 1963 4 , Harkness Fellow, Commonwealth Fund, New York 1967 8 , member of the Council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts 1971 5 , member of the Literature Panel at the Arts Council, 1975 7 , and Adjunct Professor of Writing, Columbia University, New York 1980 From 1992 7 he was Chairman of the Catholic Writers Guild He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature FRSL.His most well known work is the non fiction Alive The Story of the Andes Survivors 1974 , an account of the aftermath of a plane crash in the Andes, later adapted as a film.


    1. Marcel Proust introduced me to the Dreyfus Affair. While reading his masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu, I grew interested on this political scandal who seemed to have divided France in two opposing sides - the Dreyfusards and the anti-Dreyfusards - because, for being such an important part of French history, it was largely present throughout Proust’s story and characters.The Dreyfus Affair, by Piers Paul Read, depicts the sad but unfortunately true story of French captain Alfred Dreyf [...]

    2. A decade ago I attempted a tandem read of Proust's In Search of Lost Time with a reading friend; he made it through all of the books, I hit the wall in Guermantes Way and fell out. My issues began with the Dreyfus Affair - I just had no idea what the fuss was about, and in the days before , any of the online resources about the Affair were thin, at best. Not able to wrap my mind around the Affair, I soon lost my way amongst Proust's description of Parisian society and ultimately slogged my way t [...]

    3. Where I got the book: my local library. Yay for the local library, because this one might be thought of as a bit of an obscure subject in America.You can't do any reading about late nineteenth-century France without stumbling across the Dreyfus Affair. So I knew the basics: a Jewish army captain was wrongly accused of passing military secrets to the Germans (Enemy #1 at the time, not that long after the Franco-Prussian War), interned on Devil's Island, and subsequently released and repatriated w [...]

    4. The Dreyfus Affair pops up time and again when reading French books from the end of the nineteenth century. I've recently been reading Proust's In Search of Lost Time in which the characters keep discussing the Affair and anyone who has read anything about Zola will realise that Zola played a significant part in the Affair. Up to now I've just read around the Dreyfus Affair and have only been aware of the bare bones of the story; but the topic is a fascinating story in its own right and I though [...]

    5. Having only heard shortened versions in history class, my original understanding of the affair was that Dreyfus was wrongly convicted of espionage because someone had planted evidence against him in a trashcan. I knew he was in jail for about 10 years but was finally declared innocent but I did not know anything else.What actually happened was so much worse that is almost seems unreal. Although no one originally set Dreyfus up, he was named as a possible suspect early on and those who were convi [...]

    6. So, as I read it, there are at least three levels on which to understand the Dreyfus Affair, a complex series of events that convulsed France at the end of the nineteenth century. The first is as a story of a wrongful conviction, of a man accused, convicted of, and punished horribly for a crime he didn't commit. On that level, it reminds me of other, more recent stories of investigations gone horribly wrong. Investigators fix too quickly on a single suspect, get tunnel vision, start reading all [...]

    7. If I remember correctly, even though I've known of the Dreyfus Affair since school days and have definitely went on to educate myself about it, this is the first book I've read that is wholly dedicated to the subject. And it is a good one. It tracks the pre-Dreyfus situation, up through all of the individuals responsible for the affair, then discusses some of the fallout. For anyone interested in history, and specifically historical moments of a certain magnitude and importance to certain peopl [...]

    8. I hadn't read a book on the Dreyfus affair before, and if you're in a similar position and would be interested in reading about the scandal which caused a political crisis in France in the closing decade of the 19th century (and whose reverberations were still being felt at least through the Great War and perhaps as late as WW2 and the Vichy government) this is a highly readable introduction. Read is a journalist and novelist, not an academic, and he writes in an enjoyable, novelistic style. Par [...]

    9. An excellent telling of one of the strangest, most influential, and least remembered judicial-political scandals of the 19th century. Read deftly navigates the twists and turns of "The Affair", as it became known, with its cast of shady characters, officers, politicians, forgers, and spies.It's an anti-Semitism that comes across most shockingly, letters-to-the-editor type abuses of Jews that would be unsurprising in a history of Nazi Germany but are unexpectedly vehement in a history of France. [...]

    10. What a prolonged agonizing cause célèbre! This dismal tragic biography is placed in the aftermath of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War. The Affair years of the 1890s are set in a sociological, moral, religious, humanistic era of French history. There was no ostensible motive for Dreyfus' alleged treason, and no incriminating evidence. His military chief officers framed him against a backdrop of nationalist, anti-Semitic sentiment. High-ranking military personnel conspired to frame an innocent [...]

    11. If you ever wondered what the Dreyfus fuss was about, this book is for you. I found it a very interesting and in-depth look at the events surrounding the scandal that retains name recognition to this day.

    12. I wrote a review of this book for the journal The History Teacher, which should appear in an issue or two. Here are parts of that review:For over a century, the ordeal endured by Captain Alfred Dreyfus has fascinated, appalled, and inspired generations well beyond the borders of France, where the events of “the Dreyfus Affair” transpired. So much has been written about the Affair that a reader might reasonably ask what any new book has to contribute to our knowledge of it. Piers Paul Read, a [...]

    13. I've put this on a shelf called "Didn't finish" but it could also be listed under, "Barely got started." By page 39, I was bored and I'd not even got to the main story.I know a bit about Alfred Dreyfus; that he was falsly accused of treason and was imprisoned on the notorious Devil's Island off the coast of French Guiana. I know he was Jewish and this is widely accepted as the probable reason for his set-up. He was eventually cleared of all charges.Read's book does not start with a background of [...]

    14. Very good with lots of research. I thought I knew a bit about this but it turns out I knew little. In a nutshell: around 1900, intrigue results in Dreyfus being falsely convicted of being a traitor and was sent to Devils Island for four years. He was framed. Some said from anti-Semitism, some said because he wasn't well liked, some said to deflect from their own culpability. In truth, all of the above. The result was that several governments fell, other rose and fell, and a near civil war result [...]

    15. I enjoyed reading this historical account of the Dreyfus Affair. It gave me a lot of insight into nineteenth-century French politics and culture. I found the battles between the Catholics and the secular government over education very interesting, especially in light of the present-day battles between the United States government and the anti-science, anti-intellectual educational agenda of the Religious Right. I also learned a great deal about the development of anti-Semitism in modern European [...]

    16. Fantastically written. Although full of historical data, the author manages to weave a story that hardly let my put the book down. I found the beginning a bit hard-going with the massive contextual background to the facts but I think it was necessary to understand what happened and the spirit of the time.I really liked that at the end each of the characters involved had a little summary of what happened to them after the affair and I wish he'd write Lucy's story, as it seems she was quite a char [...]

    17. It's hard to say you liked a book that was so frustrating to read. But the frustration was in the subject, not the writer -- he did a great job at not only telling the story but putting it all in context (as if this much stupidity and stubbornness could be put into a proper context -- "Yes, everyone acted like a bunch of jackasses, but here's why they did!")

    18. A very interesting, enlightening and highly readable account of a sordid chapter in the history of France. There are alot of funny jokes about the merits of the French military over the years but this "joke" is of a different sort. Distinctly not-funny and shameful. I would think this is a work that will be considered definitive of it's subject.

    19. This book was a very good accounting of the Dreyfus Affair and how it affected France. I'm glad I read it, but I must say that the author seemed to get carried away naming individuals, and their connections, that had little or no relevance to the main topic of the book. I also though there were too many needless references to French terms, some repeatedly.

    20. Dry and tediousI've had to force myself to finish this book and I love history. The amount of tangents this author goes on is ridiculous. If you are just dipping your feet in French history this is not the book for you. I will definitely not buy another book by this author. For every interesting part of the Dreyfus Affair there are pages of tedious tangents to match.

    21. Klar, edrueleg og oversynleg framstilling av ei sak som stadig er eigna til å sjokkere. Ei av dei klart beste populære historiebøkene eg har lese.

    22. Does Justice supersede the State or vice-versa? You can have a state without justice, but can you have justice without a state?If you know a little history this book will help you weave together many strands. The Dreyfus debacle touches on: the French Revolution, the reign of terror, World War I & II, the rise of modern democracy, corrupt bureaucracy, Freemasonry and racism including: antisemitism, anti-Catholic and Zionism.It is a lot, and the book drags in many places but is full of good i [...]

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