Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century By Ruth Harris (448 Pages)Publisher: Metropolitan Books, 2010
The definitive history of the infamous scandal that shook a nation and stunned the world
In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was wrongfully convicted of spying for Germany and imprisoned on Devil s Island. Over the next few years, France was torn apart as attempts to correct the injustice broke up families, set off anti-Semitic riots, and came close to triggering a coup d etat.
Drawing upon thousands of previously unconsidered sources, Ruth Harris goes beyond the conventional narrative of truth-loving left-wing democrats mobilizing against right-wing proto-Fascists to explain how violently reactionary forces could overtake a country that viewed itself as the flagship of progressive enlightenment. She shows how complex emotions and interlocking influences the tension between the military and the intellectuals, the clashing demands of justice and nationalism, and a tangled web of personal connections shaped both the coalitions working to free Dreyfus and the alliances seeking to protect the army that had convicted him.
Sweeping and engaging, Dreyfus offers a new understanding of one of the most contested and consequential moments in modern history.