I’d heard of the Dreyfus Affair, but I’d never realised what a miscarriage of justice this was. After completing this book, I realised two things: how far the authorities can go in order to cover up their mistakes and how much difference one person can make when they can be bothered to pursue what they know to be right.
Major / Colonel / General Picquart is a hero, an example to everyone who knows when there’s been a miscarriage of justice and errors have been made.
This book applies the techniques of a novel to retell the story of the Dreyfus Affair between 1894 and 1906. None of the characters are wholly fictional and most of the events described in the book happened in real life. There are dramatisations and many ‘personal’ conversations are imagined, because this is a novel.
However, the central tenet that the French Army was anti-semetic and easily took to the idea that a particular person had to be the spy because of his religion rather than because he was the guilty party holds true. The lengths they went to cover up this miscarriage of justice are repellent and yet believable. This makes the book so readable, what would the authorities do next to deter Picquart? Whatever they threw at him, even potential suicide missions into the Tunisian Sahara, didn’t succeed.
Picquart is a shining example of what can be achieved by those who care and believe in the truth.